The Local Government Act 2002 requires all local authorities to facilitate a process, at least once every six years, to identify community outcomes. This identifies the social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes that communities want for their future well-being.
The Department of Internal Affairs has analysed the community outcomes identified in the draft long-term council community plans of the 85 New Zealand councils. The analysis offers a high level summary only of the information included in councils’ community outcomes and is not intended to supersede its sources. The community outcomes themselves should be referred to for the most accurate picture of the outcomes communities want.
The analysis identified 11 key themes:
- Natural Environment;
- Urban Environment;
- Arts, Culture and Recreation;
- Services; and
- Maori Specific Outcomes.
When analysed according to different community characteristics, with the exception of Maori Specific Outcomes, these themes were generally consistent across all communities. Five themes in particular were consistently among the most frequently referenced. These were the Natural and Urban Environments; the Economy; the Community; and Arts, Culture and Recreation.
Where variations did occur, they most commonly involved shifts in the frequency of references to the Economy, Natural Environment and Urban Environment. In general, a proportionately higher frequency of references to the Urban Environment was associated with a proportionately lower frequency of references to both the Natural Environment and Economy and vice versa. For example, the communities of metropolitan councils made proportionately fewer references to the Economy and Natural Environment and more references to the Urban Environment than provincial and rural communities. The situation was similar for the most urbanised communities in comparison with the least urbanised communities.
There is no standard approach to presenting community outcomes. Councils have used up to three layers of detail, and while the median number of outcomes was seven, the minimum number was four and the maximum number was 62.
A key challenge for councils is to make sure the meanings of the outcomes are clear to local communities. This is because, while the themes are relatively constant, there is some variation in the meanings of each theme between different communities. This also elevates the importance of the implementation of community outcomes reflecting the unique characteristics of local communities.