The purpose of the SOLGM Democracy and Governance Support Working Party (DGS) is to
a. Assist the local government sector to achieve high standards in the conduct of democracy services and governance support activity

b. assist the local government sector to achieve high standards in the planning, management and conduct of elections and polls under the Local Electoral Act 2001

c. in conjunction with other agencies, enhance public understanding of the role of local democracy within New Zealand’s system of governance, and public participation of local democracy


  • monitoring the environment within which local authorities operate for relevant issues impacting on the democracy and governance support function including proposed legislative change and developments in overseas jurisdictions
  • preparing and presenting submissions representing local government sector concerns from a management and operational perspective to appropriate organisations and Ministers
  • providing advice to local authorities and Electoral Officers on issues within its area of focus. This may involve the preparation of good practice guidance, tools and training
  • participate in programmes that build community understanding of, and capacity to contribute to the local democratic process
  • participate in or undertake national programmes to help promote awareness of and participation in local elections and polls, subject to the approval of the Chief Executive and
  • develop and maintain co-operative working relationships with the local government sector and other organisations that have related interests

View/download the Democracy and Governance Support Working Party

Current Members:


Geoff Williams Chief Executive, Rotorua District Council

Deputy Chair; Chair of the Electoral Subcommittee:

Dean Heiford, Manager Economic, Community & Support Services, Marlborough District Council


Marguerite Delbet, General Manager Democracy Services - Auckland Council

Karl Ferguson, Director Communications and Engagement - Auckland Council

Sandy Graham, General Manager Corporate Services - Dunedin City Council

Anusha Guler, Head of Governance - Wellington City Council

Francis Ryan, Manager Democratic Services - Greater Wellington

Melissa Short, Manager Strategy and Policy - Invercargill City Council

Julie Straka, Governance Lead - New Plymouth District Council

Fleur Sweeney, Democracy Management Advisor - Western Bay of Plenty District Council

SOLGM Electoral Subcommittee :


Dean Heiford, Manager Economic, Community & Support Services, Marlborough District Council


Mali Ahipene, Manager Democracy Services - Waikato Regional Council

Rick Dunn, Governance Lead - Rotorua District Council

Pam Jordan, Electoral Officer - Dunedin City Council

Warwick Lampp, Electoral Officer -

Mark Low, Corporate Planning Manager - Timaru District Council

Sarah Nichols, Governance Manager and Deputy Electoral Officer - Waimakariri District Council

Dale Ofsoske, Electoral Officer - Election Services Ltd.

Clare Sullivan, Governance and Democracy Manager - Southland District Council

2015/16 Report from Electoral Working Party Chair

Darryl Griffin, Christchurch City Council

During the 2015-16 year the Electoral Working Party (EWP) was very focused on preparing the sector for the local body elections in October 2016. The revision of the Code of Good Practice in Local Elections was completed in April 2016. The process of reviewing each of these code parts was a significant undertaking, including an external legal review, and EWP members showed a tremendous amount of dedication ensuring the revision was completed in a timely manner.

In addition to the Code of Good Practice, EWP has:

  • produced and circulated an Electoral Officers Readiness Checklist;
  • updated Local Elections Branding including the brand style guide;
  • reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding for use with Regional Councils, Licensing Trusts and DHBs;
  • updated the standard voting documents for use in local elections;
  • updated the list of Frequently Asked Questions for Electoral Officer use;
  • undertaken a complete revision of the Electoral Officers Scale of Fees;
  • worked with Jardines to procure electoral insurance on behalf of the sector; and
  • carried out, on behalf of the sector, the national non-resident ratepayer enrolment campaign.

In October 2015 EWP assisted in the delivery of the National Electoral Officers Training held in Wellington over two days.Over 100 people attended the training and feedback received from delegates was very positive and will help steer future training programmes.

EWP have continued their role in advocating for the online voting trial so it was disappointing to hear of Cabinet’s decision not to support the online voting trial at the 2016 local elections.EWP was however heartened by the message from the Associate Minister of Local Government, Louise Upston that the Government will work with local government in locally led initiatives to clear the way for online trials, perhaps in a by-election.

During the year we had an approach from the Public Service Association. They raised a concern that SOLGM’s guidance on staff protocols during local elections may contravene the Bill of Rights Act. EWP sought legal advice on this matter which led to an update of the model staff protocol in Part 1 of the Code of Good Practice.

For the last three elections, on the advice of EWP, the sector’s Electoral Officers have used branding developed by EWP for use with the Ratepayer Enrolment campaign and election collateral. This year we became aware that LGNZ had also developed branding for use with their social media campaign to encourage voter turnout.SOLGM was, and is, very supportive of this initiative but we were aware that the two initiatives, and their corresponding branding, were potentially confusing for the general public. Both SOLGM and LGNZ worked hard to ensure that the public’s perceptions of both campaigns were that they had distinctly different purposes and they were about politically neutral election management.

Much of the work of EWP has involved many of the key agencies that play an important role in local body elections. EWP acknowledges the tremendous work undertaken by Peter Avison and the NZ Post group in the election preparation process. Regular inputs from observers such as the Local Government Commission, NZ Post, DIA, LGNZ and Ministry of Health has enabled EWP to remain abreast of electoral matters and where needed collaborate, support and advocate for changes. We also acknowledge the valuable feedback and advice received from electoral service providers, and Electoral Services. In addition support provided by Simpson Grierson with respect to legal advice and review requires acknowledgment.

Note: In October 2016 this working party became the Democracy and Governance Working Party.

EWP Members in 2015/16 year:

Darryl Griffin (chair), Dale Ofsoske (deputy), Pam Jordan, Jude Pani, Mark Low, Dean Heiford, Marguerite Delbet, Margaret Meek (from September 2015) and Anusha Guler (from September 2015)

Observers: Warwick Lampp (, Donald Riezebos (LGC), Samantha Lay Yee (DIA), Mike Reid (LGNZ) Jonathan Morgan (MoH), Anastasia Turnbull (EC). Peter Avison (NZ Post Group)

SOLGM Staff:Ilana Batchelor (lead), Raymond Horan