Public Consultation and Decision-making in Local Government.

Requirements for and expectations of local authority consultation have increased dramatically over the past 10 years. But what is “consultation”? And when and how are local authorities required to consult?

Some local authorities are experiencing difficulties in interpreting and applying the legal requirements concerning consultation. In addition, there may be different expectations and understandings of what consultation requires – both among local authorities and between local authorities and their communities.

Recognising that local authorities may find some guidance on the subject timely and helpful, we commissioned an analysis of the current statutory requirements and relevant case law from law firm Simpson Grierson.1

Our intention is to add to the current understanding of consultation requirements affecting local government. However, consultation requirements under the Resource Management Act 1991 and consultation with iwi are not covered by this report as they have been comprehensively addressed by other agencies.2

D J D Macdonald
Controller and Auditor-General

2 December 1998

1: A copy of the Simpson Grierson analysis can be obtained by writing to us at Private Box 3928, Wellington.

2: For example, Public Participation under the Resource Management Act 1991 – The Management of Conflict 1996 and Kaitiakitanga and Local Government: Tangata Whenua Participation in Environmental Management 1998, both published by the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.