Ways to Participate in Local Democracy

In a healthy democracy, it’s important to take part and share your views.

This is an extract from the June 2024 e-Newsletter

New Zealand has two tiers of government: central and local. Both are elected through representative democracy.

In a representative democracy, you vote for the people you want to represent you on the issues that matter.

Central government is made up of members of parliament who are elected from across the whole country every three years to make laws and decisions affecting all New Zealanders.

Local government is made up of the mayor or chair, councillors, and community board members and are also voted in by ratepayers and residents every three years.

Don’t worry – the elections of central and local government don’t overlap!

You could think of central government as the directors of a large company and local government is like a department within that company. Local government delivers on the central strategy for a specific area and generally make sure everything runs smoothly.

In Waimakariri, residents are represented by a Mayor and ten Councillors who represent the three wards in the District.

Local government is all about community. The Council is responsible for making decisions to ensure a healthy environment, great community facilities, reliable infrastructure and services, safe spaces for all, and a culture that supports each individual’s sense of belonging.

Council’s work hard to ensure that the needs and wants of residents are heard and considered when decisions are made.

The way local government achieves this is through community engagement. This includes public forums, consultations on major decisions, and opportunities for citizens to provide feedback on council policies and projects.

When making decisions, elected representatives consider the interests and viewpoints of residents while also considering broader regional or national policies.

How you can get involved:

There are three main ways to make sure your views are heard, and you are represented:

  1. Make a submission on consultation topics. Before making any big decisions, the Council seeks feedback and input from the community so your views can be considered. If you register on our Let’s Talk website you’ll be kept up to date with all topics for input that interest you – visit Let’s Talk Waimakariri here.
  2. Vote during local government elections. Local government elections are held every three years, and we encourage you to learn about the candidates, what they believe and stand for, and get out and vote! Make sure you’re enrolled to vote in the next election – visit the Electoral Commission site.
  3. Become an elected member. Become a decision maker for Waimakariri. Any New Zealand citizen who is enrolled to vote can run for an elected member position.

Stay informed, stay involved.
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