How to vote in your local elections

You can vote in the New Zealand local elections from 16 September to 8 October 2022.

You vote by post

You vote in your local elections by filling out voting papers sent to you in the mail. Voting papers will arrive in the mail between 16 and 21 September 2022, provided you’re enrolled and your details are up to date.

If you didn’t receive an enrolment update pack in the mail in the first week of July, it means you’re not enrolled to vote or your details are not up to date. You can enrol to vote at the Electoral Commission website.

If you enrol to vote after 12 August, you won’t get your voting papers sent to you in the mail. To vote, you’ll have to request special voting papers from your local council’s electoral officer. Local Government New Zealand keeps a list of electoral officers.

Different elections have different voting systems

Most elections use the First Past the Post (FPP) voting system. Under FPP, you vote by putting a tick next to the name of the candidate you are voting for. The candidate with the most votes wins.

Some elections use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. Under STV, you vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference by putting a number next to their name. “1” for your favourite, and so on. You can rank as many or as few candidates as you like.

Your voting papers will include instructions on how to vote in your local elections.

If you’re of Māori descent, you might be able to vote in a Māori ward or constituency

This year, 35 councils will have Māori wards or constituencies to ensure Māori have dedicated electoral representation in that area. To vote in a Māori ward or constituency you must be on the Māori electoral roll, rather than the general roll. You can find out more about the Māori roll on the Electoral Commission website.

In some cases, you can vote in two areas

If you own property in one electoral area but usually live somewhere else, you can apply to go on the ratepayer roll. This allows you to vote both in the area where you pay rates and in the area where you live.

To apply to go on the ratepayer roll, contact the electoral officer for the area where you pay rates but don’t live.

What are candidate affiliations?

On some candidates’ profiles, you’ll see an affiliation listed beneath the candidate’s name. The affiliation shows the candidate is associated with the named group. Affiliations are specified by candidates when they are nominated for election, along with an official statement, and appear on the official voting papers.

Candidates can put pretty much anything they want down as their affiliation – it does not need to be an existing group or political party. Affiliations are optional too, so if you see a candidate without one, it simply means they’ve chosen not to specify one.

What does local government do?

Local government is how communities make democratic decisions about their towns, cities and regions. In each area of New Zealand, different organisations share responsibility for local government.

City or district councils (also known as territorial authorities) have the widest range of responsibilities, including for roads, libraries, parks, council housing, and water infrastructure (the so called ‘Three Waters’). They are also responsible for town planning, regulating new building, economic development, and supporting the arts. There are 11 city councils, and 50 district councils. These councils are governed by elected councillors, including a mayor.

Some of these councils also have community boards, which aim to bring decision-making closer to citizens. Community boards are made up of elected members and work with the council on issues affecting the area which the board represents.

Regional councils help manage natural resources and the environment for an area. The functions of regional councils vary from place to place, and many territorial and regional councils provide some services together. There are 11 regional councils. They are governed by elected regional councillors. There is no mayor for a regional council, but the councillors elect a chair of the council from among themselves.

In some places, the council is both a regional and a territorial authority. Councils of this kind are called unitary authorities. The unitary authorities in New Zealand are Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, Gisborne District Council, Marlborough District Council, Tasman District Council and the Chatham Islands Council.

Auckland Council is unique. It’s made up of a governing body of councillors, plus 21 local boards, which represent different areas around Auckland. Local boards are similar to community boards but have a larger range of powers. Local boards have direct decision making over local issues, such as libraries, pools, and parks, while the governing body makes decisions affecting the whole city.

You may also be able to vote for a licensing, health or community trust. Because of the way these are administered, they are not included in Policy.nz.

In previous elections you could also vote to elect members of district health boards (DHBs). But these have now been placed by Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, which is not elected.

How to vote in your local elections

You can vote in the New Zealand local elections from 16 September to 8 October 2022.

You vote by post

You vote in your local elections by filling out voting papers sent to you in the mail. Voting papers will arrive in the mail between 16 and 21 September 2022, provided you’re enrolled and your details are up to date.

If you didn’t receive an enrolment update pack in the mail in the first week of July, it means you’re not enrolled to vote or your details are not up to date. You can enrol to vote at the Electoral Commission website.

If you enrol to vote after 12 August, you won’t get your voting papers sent to you in the mail. To vote, you’ll have to request special voting papers from your local council’s electoral officer. Local Government New Zealand keeps a list of electoral officers.

Different elections have different voting systems

Most elections use the First Past the Post (FPP) voting system. Under FPP, you vote by putting a tick next to the name of the candidate you are voting for. The candidate with the most votes wins.

Some elections use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. Under STV, you vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference by putting a number next to their name. “1” for your favourite, and so on. You can rank as many or as few candidates as you like.

Your voting papers will include instructions on how to vote in your local elections.

If you’re of Māori descent, you might be able to vote in a Māori ward or constituency

This year, 35 councils will have Māori wards or constituencies to ensure Māori have dedicated electoral representation in that area. To vote in a Māori ward or constituency you must be on the Māori electoral roll, rather than the general roll. You can find out more about the Māori roll on the Electoral Commission website.

In some cases, you can vote in two areas

If you own property in one electoral area but usually live somewhere else, you can apply to go on the ratepayer roll. This allows you to vote both in the area where you pay rates and in the area where you live.

To apply to go on the ratepayer roll, contact the electoral officer for the area where you pay rates but don’t live.

What are candidate affiliations?

On some candidates’ profiles, you’ll see an affiliation listed beneath the candidate’s name. The affiliation shows the candidate is associated with the named group. Affiliations are specified by candidates when they are nominated for election, along with an official statement, and appear on the official voting papers.

Candidates can put pretty much anything they want down as their affiliation – it does not need to be an existing group or political party. Affiliations are optional too, so if you see a candidate without one, it simply means they’ve chosen not to specify one.

What does local government do?

Local government is how communities make democratic decisions about their towns, cities and regions. In each area of New Zealand, different organisations share responsibility for local government.

City or district councils (also known as territorial authorities) have the widest range of responsibilities, including for roads, libraries, parks, council housing, and water infrastructure (the so called ‘Three Waters’). They are also responsible for town planning, regulating new building, economic development, and supporting the arts. There are 11 city councils, and 50 district councils. These councils are governed by elected councillors, including a mayor.

Some of these councils also have community boards, which aim to bring decision-making closer to citizens. Community boards are made up of elected members and work with the council on issues affecting the area which the board represents.

Regional councils help manage natural resources and the environment for an area. The functions of regional councils vary from place to place, and many territorial and regional councils provide some services together. There are 11 regional councils. They are governed by elected regional councillors. There is no mayor for a regional council, but the councillors elect a chair of the council from among themselves.

In some places, the council is both a regional and a territorial authority. Councils of this kind are called unitary authorities. The unitary authorities in New Zealand are Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, Gisborne District Council, Marlborough District Council, Tasman District Council and the Chatham Islands Council.

Auckland Council is unique. It’s made up of a governing body of councillors, plus 21 local boards, which represent different areas around Auckland. Local boards are similar to community boards but have a larger range of powers. Local boards have direct decision making over local issues, such as libraries, pools, and parks, while the governing body makes decisions affecting the whole city.

You may also be able to vote for a licensing, health or community trust. Because of the way these are administered, they are not included in Policy.nz.

In previous elections you could also vote to elect members of district health boards (DHBs). But these have now been placed by Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, which is not elected.