What powers do local authorities have?

Everything a local authority does is governed by a legislative framework. This framework is established by Parliament. Some of the key laws that govern and empower the system of local government are the:

  • Local Government Act 2002 (sets out the general powers of councils, planning and accountability requirements)
  • Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (sets out the methods by which councils raise revenue through rates)
  • Local Elections Act 2001 (sets out the process for council elections)

In addition, many local government activities are governed by separate Acts of Parliament, such as the Resource Management Act 1991, the Building Act 2004 and the Bio-security Act 1993.


Local bylaws
A local authority has the power to make local bylaws. These enable the council to enforce local rules that help to:

  • protect the public from nuisance
  • protect, promote and maintain public health and safety
  • minimise the potential for offensive behaviour in public places
  • regulate activities, such as waste management

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