Local Governance Statement
Environment Southland’s activities involve an area that is serviced by three other local authorities: Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council and Southland District Council. The four authorities work closely and collaboratively together, both formally through a “shared services” approach, and informally through workshops, discussions and joint projects. We have a very effective relationship with iwi and a positive relationship with many government and community organisations that assist and complement our role.
The Local Governance Statement supports the purpose of local government by promoting local democracy. The statement provides the public with information on the ways to influence local democratic processes, and is a requirement of section 40 of the Local Government Act 2002.
Use this page to access information about how we make decisions, and how members of the public can influence the decision-making process.
The purpose of local government
The purpose of local government is:
- to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and
- to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses.
In the Local Government Act 2002, 'good-quality' (when talking about local infrastructure, local public services, and the performance of regulatory functions) means infrastructure, services, and performances that are efficient, effective and appropriate to present and anticipated future circumstances.
Functions and responsibilities
The purpose of Environment Southland is to enable democratic decision-making at the appropriate level, to promote sustainable development for the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of the community for now and the future.
Our specific responsibilities include environmental management, water quality, flood protection and land management, public transport planning and funding, biodiversity management and biosecurity, harbour management and responding to marine oil spills.
The Council is responsible for developing policies that direct the activities of Environment Southland.
The Local Government Act and the Resource Management Act state what activities the Council should, or may, be involved with. It is the Councillors' role to decide how the activities should be carried out.
The Long-term Plan 2021-31 sets out the activities and services we intend to deliver to the community over a 10-year period and how these will be funded. It also outlines our long-term vision.
Local legislation and bylaws
Our key documents are available on our website.
The electoral system and processes
Environment Southland's councillors are elected triennially. Any candidate must be a New Zealand citizen enrolled as a parliamentary elector. Candidates cannot self-nominate. They must be nominated by 2 electors who reside in the constituency the candidate is standing for, although candidates themselves do not have to reside in that constituency.
The Chairman of the Council, Deputy Chair and committee chairs are selected by members at the Inaugural Council meeting following the triennial election.
Environment Southland has chosen to use the First Past the Post (FPP) system of electing our members.
You can find out more about the electoral system and processes on our Elections page.
A review of constituency membership and representation must be undertaken at least every six years or for every second local body election. A review was required prior to the 2019 election, resulting in only minor adjustments to the 2013 constituencies to retain commonality with territorial authority wards. These were confirmed by the Local Government Commission on 1 April 2019. The next review of membership and representation will happen in 2025.
The map below shows the final constituencies that were confirmed by the Local Government Commission, and their boundaries. You can use our online constituency map to find out which Councillors represent those areas, with a link to their contact details.
Members' roles and conduct
The links below provide information on the roles and responsibilities of regional councillors, including the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, as well as Council’s committees and the Chief Executive.
Governance structure, membership and delegations
Some committees and subcommittees are given statutory powers necessary for them to fulfill their terms of reference. The terms of reference of each of Council’s committees and subcommittees may be found below.
The full Council and our standing committees generally meet six-weekly, or quarterly.
All meeting dates and times are advertised in our Enviroweek advertisement in the Southland Express, The Ensign, and on our website. Most meetings are held in the Environment Southland council chamber, located at the corner of North Road and Price Street in Invercargill, and are generally open to the public. Agendas and minutes for these meetings are available online at the link below.
Time is allocated at the beginning of each meeting for any public forums, petitions or deputations. These sessions are an opportunity for the public to bring matters, not necessarily on the meeting’s agenda, to the attention of the local authority.
If you'd like to speak at a Council or committee meeting, find out how in this handy factsheet. You can contact the Executive Assistant if you have any questions or to arrange attending or speaking at one of our Council or committee meetings.
We routinely consult with ratepayers and stakeholders on key decisions and plans. Details of current consultations can be found on our online engagement hub.
Te Tiriti partnership
Environment Southland has a long-standing and highly valued relationship with Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku through the four Southland papatipu rūnanga, Te Ao Mārama Inc (the entity representing Southland rūnanga for resource management and local government matters) and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (the iwi authority).
We have mana whenua representatives on our Strategy and Policy Committee and Regional Services Committee, and we work in partnership with Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku on a variety of programmes and projects, acknowledging their special status in terms of our resource management activities. These relationships are foundational to our journey towards treaty partnership and bringing a Te Ao Māori lens to the way we work.
The Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku Iwi Management Plan - Te Tangi a Tauira - provides a resource for all and ensures mana whenua issues and policies are provided for in natural resource and environmental policy and planning.
Environment Southland is made up of two key bodies:
Made up of twelve councillors, elected democratically by the Southland public every three years to represent six constituencies. The Council decides the range of services and activities the organisation provides, and sets the policy for these. It delegates implementation to the staff, and monitors their performance.
The corporate organisation, led by the Chief Executive who is responsible to the elected Council for ensuring the effective, efficient and economic management of all Environment Southland's activities. The Council currently employs around 170 staff.
Equal employment opportunities policy
We place a high value on maintaining a skilled, motivated and diverse workforce working in a safe environment. The Council and management are committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity in the recruitment, employment, training and promotion of the Council’s employees. A philosophy of acceptance without prejudice of differences in race, colour, ethnic or national origin, gender, religion, marital status, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, age or disability is encouraged throughout the organisation.
- To select job applicants on the basis of merit, verifiable experience and ability to deliver our programmes to the community.
- To provide job training programmes fairly and without bias to enable employees to best meet the requirements of their current positions and to develop additional skills.
- To maintain a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.
Policy and planning documents
We've adopted a suite of governance policies, which outline in detail the roles, rules and responsibilities of the organisation and its members. We also have a number of planning documents that provide details on our functions, goals and how we plan to achieve them.
Official information requests
Official information requests are governed by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. This supports our Council’s approach to transparent and accountable decision-making. The link below provides information on how to request information.