Aging population will affect local government

University of Waikato demographer, Professor Natalie Jackson, presented the inconvenient truth on demographics to Local Government New Zealand’s annual conference.

Professor Jackson said over the next two decades, all growth in 56 of New Zealand’s territorial authorities (84 per cent of the total 78) will be in the 65 years-plus age bracket.

By 2031, an estimated 91 per cent of territorial authorities (TA) will have more elderly than children. This figure currently stands at just 15 per cent. This will have a major impact on employment, housing and infrastructure in much of New Zealand.

This, Prof Jackson says, is the inconvenient truth of population ageing, already well advanced across the developed world. . .

The government is not going to force amalgamations on councils but reorganisation was discussed.

. . . Ganesh Nana, Chief Economist at BERL said “Economies of scale make sense, where there is synergy and, importantly, where communities are comfortable with the change being proposed.”

The panel also recognised issues caused by changing demographics where some areas will have declining populations, whilst other grow.

LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, said “This makes it more of a challenge for smaller councils. The inevitability of change means that councils will be finding innovative approaches to deliver their services.”

“The answer to “is Bigger Better?” will be very different depending on where you are and what challenges you are facing as a council – but one thing is certain – there will be changes ahead for local government in New Zealand.”

Some amalgamations are inevitable to get economies of scale but could a different approach to doing what they have to do also work?

For example, do councils in close proximity have to duplicate everything they do, or could one specialise in certain areas and its neighbour or neighbours tackle others?

This wouldn’t work where each council had different policies but could it where policies are set by central government rather than councils or would distancing staff from elected representatives cause more problems than it solved?

53 Responses to Aging population will affect local government

  1. Andrei says:

    Homosexual “marriage” will fix this – Tui ad!

    We are witnessing the fall of the West as degenerate politicians drag us all kicking and screaming into their squalid mire.


  2. Mr E says:

    Few points.
    After the Berl report on Southland I am surprised they are encouraged onto panels. It really was a joke in my opinion.

    Secondly I see some bigger factors than age influencing councils. The urban drift is significant. Begs the question of if urban people still have a big enough say. If was wasn’t convinced that our local government and media was trying to sabotage economic growth, I would say we need more urban influence on the council

    Finally. Remuneration of councillors is completely out of date. We tend to pay a flat fee for regardless of experience and education. In my opinion we pay a measly sum and it attracts a certain ‘type’ of applicant. The ‘retired type’, and the ‘don’t care what I am paid because I eat berries type’. If we want our councillors to reflect the community we need to pay more. Allow for young up coming professionals, allow for lawyers, accountants etc. We could have less councillors and pay them more as has been suggested. That would be an option. Perhaps still not fair though. We at least need to consider remuneration to ensure appropriate representation is achieved.


  3. TraceyS says:

    “…councils will be finding innovative approaches to deliver their services…”

    Expect some pretty major changes then to traverse the long, long journey from punitive to “innovative” (Eg.

    I wonder, do they really even know what innovative means? A common definition across all councils is needed. Here is a start:

    Innovative is not picking on old people.

    Innovative is not having such complicated rules that ordinary good people can’t help but land themselves in the crap.

    Innovative is not making things so difficult in a region that people are afraid to spend money trying to do stuff.

    Innovative is not ignoring problems in the hope that no one complains.

    Innovative is not spending heaps of ratepayer funds to legally defend council cock ups.

    Innovative is not suing ratepayers for doing harmless activities.

    Innovative is not sending a customer satisfaction survey to someone they have treated like gum stuck to the sole of their shoe.


  4. robertguyton says:

    Three of the councillors on my council are retired. 3 out of 12. We don’t fit your odd view at all, Mr E. Your ‘less’ councillors’ (I suppose you mean ‘fewer’ – being a well-educated professional, one of your criteria for a good councillor, I notice these things) is an old Fed Farmers chestnut and was shown the door at the last round of submissions on local government changes. Give it up, it’s not going anywhere fast. Your view of the Berl report is another Fed-fed prejudice that makes you seem out of touch with the real world. Come on Mr E, you can do better than this! Maybe you need to talk with some young, up-coming professionals and broaden your world-view.


  5. robertguyton says:

    “Innovative is not picking on old people.”
    See, Mr E! Tracey and I agree. Your slight on older, retired people isn’t helping at all.


  6. robertguyton says:

    Btw – I’m the youngest councillor on the Southland Regional Council and while that does advantage me in terms of flexibility of thinking, I’d never criticise my elder councillors because of their age. That would be ageist.


  7. TraceyS says:

    Sure, pay more by all means. But also increase accountability by removing council indemnification of it’s elected ‘directors’. There’s no way ratepayers should be paying top dollar only to indemnify elected reps to make stuff ups on their behalf.

    It would sort the men from the boys too. Council’s a convenient platform for certain types who know they can’t be sued personally for what they say or do in the role. These are not the sort needed for the job. Nothing like a bit of personal risk to send the incompetent running.

    We need to consider responsibility before representation.


  8. Andrei says:

    Older people have the benefit of experience and wisdom as well as the time to put into the duties of being councilors – I don’t know why Mr E thinks yuppies would do a better job


  9. TraceyS says:

    I’d say your council is quite aged then Robert, if you are the youngest. Hardly a spring chicken are you?

    Flexibility of thinking? Oh my word I am worried now…


  10. Andrei says:


  11. TraceyS says:

    “You’re comments put me in mind of a gritted-oyster” (

    It’s *your* Robert. Being a well-educated professional, I notice these things.

    Such a …. no I don’t do names, can’t say that.

    You are a lot of fun.


  12. TraceyS says:

    I meant older ratepayers. Couldn’t give a stuff if older councilors get picked on, or younger ones for that matter. The good ones can handle it, in fact they welcome criticism.


  13. jabba says:

    I almost chocked on my coffee with that line as well TraceyS


  14. robertguyton says:

    “Chocked” – that’s lovely, jabba. Tracey will be thrilled to ping you on your (alt: you’re) terrible spelling. Me, I don’t pick on those who are ‘hardly spring chickens’, as Tracey does. Ageism, it’s an ugly thing, eh, jabs! “Couldn’t give a stuff if older councillors get picked on” – charming! Like pushing old ladies over as they endeavour to cross the road as well do you Tracey?


  15. Mr E says:

    Picking on people? How do you get that Robert? You yourself said we have 3 out of 12 councillors who are retired. You yourself said you are the youngest. I am simply pointing out that the councils don’t often reflect the community from a demograph point of view. It is not rocket science Robert.

    I have spoken to people who would love to stand for councillor, they don’t, citing their main reason being lack of remuneration. People that I would in fact vote for, community leaders. That’s fact Robert. Not some Feds theory I am repeating. You can ignore it all you like, but that simply makes you look like a Councillor who doesn’t listen.

    Why you are upset I don’t know. I used to care. But you seem to get upset at the drop of the hat these days and it is baffling me. I can only assume it has something to do with your beloved Green’s getting tortured left right and centre on blogs. For that I feel a little sorry for you. But please try and keep it together and take some solace from my sympathetic point of view.

    So Feds support my views. Thanks for pointing that out. In contrast to your theory of ‘out of touch’, support means that I am not the only party to come to this conclusion(s). It perhaps does suggest you’re ignoring a significant number of voices possibly the majority. I am not sure how many votes inconsiderate Councillors get.

    I have read the BERL report from cover to cover. In my opinion it lacks quantification of it’s findings and it reeks of “pay me what to say”. With a lack of quantification, I have tried to put their findings into context and they fail the logic test.

    Tracey, your suggestion of council responsibility leads me to wonder if councils are acting irresponsibly. As most of them are self governing and bad behaviour seems to be levelled by a slap with a wet fish, do councils need an independent governing body?

    The presence of commissioners does beg the question of accountability.


  16. Mr E says:

    Proportions Andrei. Its about proportions. Do we really want to limit our council applicants of a Demograph or two?


  17. Mr E says:

    So often – The grammar (Grandma) Police need to go to Jail.


  18. TraceyS says:

    I said older and younger Robert. If people put themselves up as candidates and others put their faith in them they should expect criticism sooner or later. Do you think I’m picking on you? Should I not pick up on your errors because of your age?

    You fussed over Mr E’s error. Not jabba. If he’d fussed over someone else’s little mistake then yes, I’d point it out to him.


  19. Mr E says:

    You have to give him credit for that one. I like people who take the mickey out of themselves.
    Good one Robert.


  20. jabba says:

    bOb has had so many errors that he wouldn’t dare point them out due to his fear of the H word.
    Regarding the pay councillors get, I know of one where they got “rewarded” with a pay increase of 18% and an increase of $20 (133%) per travelling hour. If the labour/Green/Mana/Winny1st parties heard about that they would be outraged.


  21. jabba says:

    some of the smaller councils pay $30600 pa which isn’t too bad for what is a part-time job .. add allowances and hey. I read somewhere, indeed it may have been here, that councillors are well trained so if they are out of touch, maybe the training isn’t too flash.
    I wonder if councils have a gender rule .. aim for 50-50. bOb said 3 of his fellow trained councillors have retired so there is an chance for woman in the Southland region.


  22. Mr E says:

    I would love to see a time sheet if accurately kept of a councillor. There is a lot of reading and communication that goes unseen I am sure. I suspect that time requirement is well more than most people think. Reading a fair proportion of what comes out of the council keeps you pretty busy.

    I think Robert means retired from the private sector not from the council.


  23. Andrei says:

    The President of the United States of America has to be at least 35 years old but the youngest President was 42 on accession. Kennedy was just shy of 44 and is one whose posterity was assured by being assassinated which saved his reputation I’d posit

    The best president of our times was probably Ronald Reagan who was nearly 70 when he took the Oval office.

    Be that as it may – This post highlights the fact that our society has a serious problem in that that age structure of our Nation is seriously skewed toward the old and that this means that resources that should be going into the young (the future) are being diverted to the old (the past) but as usual rather than confronting the issues the thread has jumped the shark and descended into inane bickering.

    All of which is hardly surprising given that our intellectual elites have yet to grasp the basic fundamentals surrounding the life-cycle of the human species


  24. TraceyS says:

    This is just an example of extraordinarily flexible thinking. It works like this. A writer makes a grammar/spelling mistake and it is perfectly acceptable and warrants no mention by them. In the time it takes to notice a similar small error by someone else the agile mind has experienced a change of position and it’s no longer OK so must be highlighted and ridiculed. The position quickly changes back again. It’s called quick thinking, not hypocrisy at all.

    I actually didn’t notice jabba’s mistake at first. Now I can’t stop laughing about it. Thanks for pointing out Robert, you have improved my day. I can only assume that jabba also has a sense of humor and doesn’t get hung up on such stuff. But be warned jabba, if you start fussing over my errors you become fair game.


  25. robertguyton says:

    Thanks, Mr E. They won’t (give me credit) as they can’t see it. Tracey’s obsessiveness about spelling and her desperate need to explain every tiny detail, is … disturbing. How about you (Tracey) and jabs get back to the substance of the post and stop wasting our time. It’s concerns around the ’65 years-plus age bracket’ that define our councils now that should be being discussed here. Tracey, best you say nothing, given your anti-elderly bias.


  26. TraceyS says:

    You are right I think jabba. See:

    Councilor quotes from that news item follow:

    “If you’re talking about every page, no, but I don’t think this is about me reading reports. We’ve been obviously kept up to date along the way with different briefings about where things are at.”

    “There’s nothing that can be done, really. I guess wiser minds than mine know what they are doing.”

    If they can’t read the financials, or don’t even realise that they SHOULD read them before signing off then send them down to the MBA programme at Otago for a couple of days immersion. Urgently! I would not mind paying for that as a ratepayer. But if I were in that situation then I would get the training myself. The problem is there are no real consequences for Councilors for getting things terribly wrong. What’s the worst that can happen – fail to win a seat in the next election? Even that’s not very likely in Dunedin because generally there is no good competition.

    Interestingly, one of the responsible ones is a farmer.

    Back to you Mr E.


  27. TraceyS says:

    I also picked up on your recent correction regarding the Angelica, Robert. Didn’t really matter to listeners who couldn’t see the plant concerned did it? They’d have been none the wiser if you had let that one slide too.

    You asked me to listen Robert, and I did.

    Fussy is as fussy does.

    Happy to engage in more productive discussion. See my comment @2:28pm. There is a place for fussiness for sure.


  28. jabba says:

    another thing that worries me about councils, and bOb’s is one, they have discussions that are secret .. wow, the Gweens oppose secrets from “elected” officials and that includes local councils .. what is the story bOb?
    I also note that councillors have to declare financial interests .. Southland have 2 missing


  29. robertguyton says:

    Oh, jabs! I’ll say nothing.
    Mr E, your call for yuppies to usurp the ‘old crocks’ on our councils doesn’t sound reasonable to me. Sure, I’d like to hear the sound of younger voices around the boardroom table, rather than the squeal of un-tuned hearing aids, but that’s up to the young people in the first instance, and the voting public in the second. Your claim that the Berl report ‘reeks’, isn’t supported by anyone here – in fact, Ele has endorsed it through here post. Perhaps you’re not able to bear the thought of innovation and change? I was going to suggest that you stand for the Te Anau seat, but perhaps you’re too died-in-the-wool for the job. As I said before, flexibility of thought is a must-have for an effective councillor.


  30. jabba says:

    I don’t blame you for saying nothing .. the H word follows you everywhere bOb.
    Massive pay rises, secret agendas, sexism and possibly not declaring financial interests ALL things the Gweens are dead against and you are in the middle .. the increase in travel must be a gold mine (no pun intrended) for you. I mean how long does it take to ride your horse to meetings?


  31. robertguyton says:

    My financial interests! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
    Go for it, jabs. You’ll catch me out on that one!
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I’m a gonner!


  32. jabba says:

    maybe it was an oversight by the Councils site admin. Strange yours isn’t there though with you being in favour of open Govt.
    Nice little earner there bOb .. shhhhhhh $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    You love attacking the Govt for things you do yourself .. the H is all over you.


  33. Mr E says:

    I’d not made such claims Robert. I’d made claims that the remuneration scheme doesn’t encourage all walks of life to consider the councillor role. If you can’t see that Robert I can’t help you.

    I’d consider putting my name in the hat but the job doesn’t pay enough and I’d be letting the family down. Politically speaking I’d be better running for Invercargill not Te Anau. Then again I don’t think it matters too much. My locals don’t hate me.

    I wonder how many bloggers here have read the BERL report in question. Sounds like I have support for my point of view from the Feds. Who supports yours? The people who paid for the report?


  34. TraceyS says:

    “…doesn’t encourage all walks of life to consider the councillor role.”

    But more importantly, Mr E, doesn’t attract the much needed skill set which is in great demand elsewhere of course.

    So we tend to get the disaffected.


  35. robertguyton says:

    The disaffected, Tracey?
    All but three councillors on my council of 12 are or have been, farmers.
    What do you say to that?


  36. jabba says:

    mmmmm “my council”


  37. TraceyS says:

    Oh LOL Robert, why do you think farming is the skill set I’m referring to?


  38. Armchair Critic says:

    Innovative is not a very long list of things. It’s a wonder you stopped there. Rather than defining something by what it is not, you could stop beating around the bush and tell us what you think innovation is, in the context of local government. It interests me that the reforms to local government that have been brought in or are proposed by the current government have an underlying theme of local government sticking to its core business, which is not really something that encourages or even requires innovation. Innovation is, after all, associated with risk.
    The article you linked to is over three years old, according to the ODT website. Do you know how the situation evolved? I hope DCC pulled their head in and decided to take no further action.


  39. TraceyS says:

    Innovation wasn’t my suggestion AC. I’m quite happy with them sticking to core business, if only they did! You are right about the article, my how time flies. No I’m not aware of how it turned out but here’s another more recent, slightly different I sometimes wonder if the council would pull it’s head in without the help of the ODT in publicising such issues.


  40. Armchair Critic says:

    While we are being grammar freaks, the correct expression is …of its elected ‘directors’.
    On your more substantial points:
    There’s no way ratepayers should be paying top dollar…
    ‘top dollar’ is hyperbole. Councillors are reasonably well renumerated.
    …only to indemnify elected reps to make stuff ups on their behalf.
    Allowing councillors to be sued would have a chilling effect on democracy. Given your stance on surveillance of private individuals by the government, it doesn’t surprise me that you support this.
    Rather than interpret what you are saying, perhaps you could explain who might be sued (all councillors? just the ones that voted for the stuff up? if multiple votes lead to it, only the ones that supported every vote? the staff, consultants and contractors that prepared the reports and recommendations?). It sounds to me that you have a simplistic solution to a complex problem and rather than carefully consider it, you are on the verge of resorting to slogans.
    As I see it, even if you do have a workable solution, the outcome would be:
    People with something to lose (the ones who can read financial statements that you praise below) will either not stand, or arrange their affairs so that there is no point in suing them.
    People with nothing to lose (or who have lost everything, perhaps due to an inability to read financial statements :)) will stand, and because they have nothing to lose they won’t care about being sued.
    All up it’s a lose-lose situation.
    It would sort the men from the boys too.
    It’s not just for men; women have a place in politics.
    We need to consider responsibility before representation.
    That’s meaningless twaddle. In a democracy government is meant to be democratic first. Ideals like responsibility and efficiency follow on.


  41. Armchair Critic says:

    As you probably know, it’s good practice to get a surveyor to confirm boundary peg locations before finalising a sale and purchase agreement. Having said that, I’ve never done it because I’ve never owned a property in town, and out in the country there are very few houses anywhere near a boundary with a reserve. My guess is that the best use of ratepayers money would be to grant a temporary easement until the building is demolished (as they all will inevitably be) and tag the property file.


  42. TraceyS says:


    While we are being spelling freaks, the correct expression is “remunerated”


  43. TraceyS says:

    There are women in politics……really? I have been living in the country too long.


  44. TraceyS says:

    “Ideals like responsibility and efficiency follow on.”

    Yes always, don’t they AC?

    Come on, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim that democracy always works when you openly criticise the present one.


  45. Dave Kennedy says:

    Which bit of the BERL report was a joke?


  46. TraceyS says:

    What does democracy look like when councils, or countries, go broke AC?

    Asking for accountability is about ensuring the long-term future of democracy. It’s a very reasonable thing to want.


  47. robertguyton says:

    Hey, Jabba. You are a coward, hiding behind a fake name and repeatedly calling me a hypocrite. Coward.


  48. Mr E says:

    How do you know Jabba is fake? Assumptions?


  49. robertguyton says:

    I know for certain, Mr E, just as Kim Dotcom knows that Key knew.


  50. Armchair Critic says:

    I liked it when Reagan said “They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost. They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.“.
    Now, who’s up for another round of employment law reforms and an update of the GCSB legislation?


  51. Mr E says:

    Certain like Norman was about printing money?


  52. robertguyton says:

    Why are you nosing into the discussion between jabba and me, Mr E?


  53. Mr E says:

    Do you have an issue with people challenging your point of view?


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