Why should you stand?

The 2022 election is your chance to run as a candidate and help make decisions that will strengthen local communities and ultimately shape Southland’s future.

How to become a candidate?

Here’s an important checklist to start with. To be a candidate for an elected member position, you must be:

  • a New Zealand citizen
  • over 18 years old
  • enrolled on the electoral roll.

If you tick all the eligibility boxes, it’s a straightforward process to officially become a candidate. Just follow these simple steps:

The decision to stand in an election should be applauded as it shows you want to make a difference. It’s always a good idea to do your homework and find out what’s important to your local community. Chat to a variety of people and discover what matters to them.

Take the time to learn more about Southland’s local government structure and the role of councillors and community board members. If you haven’t already, tune in to a Council or community board meeting and see what it’s all about.

The aim of an election is to get votes. Simple, right? Actually, a lack of knowledge about candidates and their views is one of the main reasons people don’t vote. So, if you want to run a successful campaign, it’s important to create a public profile which informs voters about the key issues you stand for. Here’s a few tips:

  • use social media channels like Facebook and Instagram for wider reach
  • door knock, address public meetings and talk to the public in town or at community markets
  • look for interview opportunities in local media such as on the radio, local newspapers, or magazines
  • advertise your views in newspapers or on billboards.

Be aware there are regulations around campaigning, including how much you can spend and how and when you can display signage in public. Check out  The Local Electoral Act 2001 (external link)  for full details.

What’s involved in being an elected member?

Let’s face it, running an entire district is no easy task. You can guarantee no two days are the same for Southland’s elected members in this challenging and rewarding role.

You will play a key part in the future direction of New Zealand’s largest district geographically by helping to manage Southland’s assets worth $1.5 billion, deciding how money is spent on projects, supporting our communities and local businesses to prosper and determining how to meet the current and future needs for infrastructure, public services and regulations.

Some typical scenarios of the type of work elected members might do on any given day:

  • read and prepare for upcoming meetings
  • making decisions at meetings and engage with the public 
  • attend events like public meetings, citizenship ceremonies or the opening of a new park or cycleway
  • represent the council at community and cultural events 
  • take part in community activities, like a working bee, for a local project.

On top of this, there will be responsibilities that relate to your specific role. 

Skills and qualities needed

Diversity in local government is important and elected members come from an array of backgrounds. While there are no special qualifications needed, an effective elected member has a broad range of skills and experience to bring to the role, including:

  • decision making and strategic thinking
  • communication and community engagement
  • relationship building and collaboration.

When it comes to making decisions, you will have a range of sources to tap into, including advice from council staff. 

As an elected member, make sure you listen to the views of your community, together with considering your own experience and opinions. Focus on building productive relationships and engaging respectfully with people from different cultures and all walks of life, who proudly call Southland home.

Opposing views also need to be considered, along with the financial and long-term consequences of decisions, so always keep an open mind.

It’s not your regular 9-5 gig. In fact, you will need to be flexible and dedicate time to your elected role outside of normal working hours, in the evenings and on weekends.

Time management is a vital skill as there’s plenty of information to absorb when you read documents like:

  • agendas and minutes
  • plans and policies
  • bylaws
  • reports
  • submissions

Knowledge of local iwi, te ao Māori and tikanga is an asset in your role as an elected member as Southland District Council is dedicated to developing a strong partnership with Māori, and committed to its meeting our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi together with broader statutory obligations.   

As an elected member, being in the public eye goes with the territory. You will often be called on to speak publicly at meetings and events. The media will seek your opinion on issues that arise. You should be able to confidently communicate your own views when engaging with the public. 

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, but being tech savvy definitely makes life easier. Technology used will include a smartphone, computer or tablet, email and online meeting platforms like MS Teams, Skype and Zoom. 

Roles, responsibilities and remuneration for elected members

There are a range of roles at Southland District Council which will be filled after the 2022 elections. 

Mayor

The mayor leads Southland District Council and chairs the governing body.

Key responsibilities: 

  • promoting a vision for Southland
  • providing leadership to achieve the vision
  • leading the development of council plans, policies, and budgets.
  • ensuring effective engagement between Southland District Council and the people of Southland
  • appointing the deputy mayor
  • establishing committees of the governing body and appointing a chairperson for each committee.

Deputy mayor

One of the elected ward councillors, the deputy mayor is appointed by the mayor and covers for the mayor if he/she is absent. 

Councillors

All councillors are members of the governing body. Key responsibilities:

  • attend governing body and  committee (external link)  meetings.
  • attend hearings conducted by local boards in their  ward (external link)  areas
  • attend meetings and workshops with  local boards (external link) , council employees and external parties as required for individual projects
  • read plans, reports and agendas, and other meeting preparation work
  • engage with the public, including attending events and public meetings, and liaising with residents and community groups
  • work alongside the chairperson and members of local boards in their ward to address issues raised by their constituents.

Committees 

Council currently has five committees that councillors can be appointed to. They are:

Finance and assurance committee:

This committee, led by a Council-appointed external person, presently Bruce Robertson, is responsible for ensuring Council has appropriate financial, risk management and internal control systems in place. It also monitors the financial and non-financial performance of Council against budgeted and forecasted outcomes; compliance with legislative requirements; and risk management framework

Services and assets committee: This committee is responsible for overseeing transport, property management including community facilities, forestry, water supply, wastewater and stormwater; solid waste management.

Community and strategy committee:

This committee is responsible for assessing and providing advice on key strategic issues, community development, developing, recommending, monitoring and implementation of strategies, plans and policies, allocation of grants, loan, scholarships and bursaries, and international relations.

Regulatory and consents committee:

This committee is responsible for overseeing Council’s role under various pieces of legislation including the Resource Management Act and consent hearings. 

Executive:

This committee is responsible for dealing with code of conduct issues and reviewing the performance of the chief executive and recommending remuneration levels. 

Community board members

A vital component of community representation is Southland’s nine community boards – Ardlussa, Northern, Oreti, Waihopai Toetoe, Wallace Takitimu, Oraka Aparima, Fiordland, Tuatapere Te Waewae and Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Elected at the same time as Council, the community boards have either six or seven members and a councillor representative. Each board elects a chairperson.

Key responsibilities:

  • make decisions on local matters
  • develop and adopt local board plans
  • engage with the local community
  • provide information to Council
  • make recommendations on various issues to Council
  • propose local bylaws and local targeted rates.

Remuneration 

The Remuneration Authority issues a determination for the remuneration of elected members each year at 30 June. Elected members are classified as self-employed and are paid an annual salary.

There are different levels of remuneration depending on the specific roles and responsibilities of elected members.

Elected members may incur expenses while on council business, for which they can be reimbursed. The Remuneration Authority sets the allowances and expenses which may be reimbursed.