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District & City Councils

There are 67 district and city councils in New Zealand, of which 5 are unitary authorities with the regional and district council functions. Of the district and city councils, 43 are located in the North Island and 24 in the South Island. Local Government New Zealand website has the full list of all councils.

Functions of district (and city) councils under the RMA

Under section 31 of the RMA Districts and City councils control the effects of

  • land use;
  • land development; and
  • land protection.

The effects of land use controls are managed in the context of natural hazards, hazardous substances, contaminated land and indigenous biodiversity management. Under the RMA a new subdivision development or a new land use may require a district council consent.

Under the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011 district councils have to regulate land disturbance activities such as removal of underground fuel storage tanks or subdivisions of land that had or currently has an activity/activities listed in HAIL (Hazardous Activities and Industries List held by the Ministry for the Environment) to ensure human health is not compromised. Information related to any historical land contamination can be accessed by obtaining LIM (Land Information Memorandum) from your district or city council.

Functions of district and city councils under other Acts

The district and city councils have wider functions and powers under a range of other statutes (e.g. Local Government Act 2002, Health Act 1956, Building Act 2004, Land Transport Act 1998, Hazardous Substance and New Organisms Act 1996 etc).

For example under section 25 of the Health Act district councils are required to provide a range of sanitary services (works) such as water, sewage collection (sewerage) and disposal, refuse collection and disposal, public toilets, crematoria, cemeteries, swimming pools etc. Building a new house or alteration of a house is processed under the Building Act.

Many of the above activities require district or city councils obtaining discharge or water take consents from the regional councils.