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This report looks at the reasons for creating the unitary Auckland Council, and asks whether it has solved the problems of the old local government structure. The report notes mixed results, with one key goal being met while the other has not. Five years on, the new design is still very much a work in progress.

This report (commissioned by the Committee for Auckland) is an inquiry into the governance of Auckland Council. Governance includes the structure of Council (governing body, Council-Controlled Organisations, the mayor, local boards) and the distribution of duties and decision-making. It examines the location of power but not the personalities of office holders.

Getting structures and decision-making rules right makes good outcomes more likely. Structures and rules, however, are not the only determinants of good outcomes; good outcomes also depend on the implementation of decisions and the judgement of people involved in the process.

This report has not covered the quality of decision-making or the implementation of decisions and processes. For this reason, some areas of Council activity that are of concern to the public – such as whether the Council is focusing on the right areas of spending or its management of the unitary plan process – are not addressed in this report.

This report places the creation of the unitary council in the context of decades of fragmented local government across the region, a lack of coordination with and investment by central government, an infrastructure deficit and a rapidly growing and changing population.

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