Wards are the voting districts for territorial authorities and were first established in November 1989. They are defined under the Local Electoral Act 2001 and boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries. The ward system was designed to allow communities within a territorial authority to be recognised, and to increase community involvement in local government.

In 2018, the following 12 territorial authorities do not have wards: Rotorua district, Kawerau district, Wairoa district, Whanganui district, Palmerston North city, Upper Hutt city, Carterton district, Nelson city, Kaikoura district, Chatham Islands territory, Dunedin city, and Invercargill city.

The Local Electoral Act 2001 provides for ward boundaries to be reviewed before every second triennial local government election.

See also ‘Territorial authority’ in this definitions group.