Topics

Concept

Name
Regional council
Description

The regional council is the top tier of local government in New Zealand. Regional councils are defined under the Local Government Act 2002. They were established in November 1989 after the abolition of the 22 local government regions. Regional council boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under the Local Government Act 2002.

In 2018, there are 16 regional councils that cover every territorial authority in New Zealand, with the exception of the Chatham Islands territory. Five regions are administered as unitary authorities, which function as both regional councils and territorial authority.

Regional councils are based largely on water catchments, such as rivers, lakes, and harbours. The seaward boundary of the regions is the 12-mile (19.3km) New Zealand territorial limit. In determining regions, consideration was also given to regional communities of interest, natural resource management, land use planning and environmental matters.

The standard classification of regional council is a flat classification and contains 17 categories (including ‘99 – Area Outside Region’). It is released annually on 1 January to coincide with the update of meshblocks, but there are not always changes from the previous classification.

See also ‘Meshblock’, and ‘Territorial authority’ in this definitions group.