The Sector Policy and Outlook Working Party (SPO) supports achievement of SOLGM’s vision by identifying policy issues and trends with the potential to impact on local authorities and/or communities now and in the medium to long-term future and advising the sector on these issues and trends. The intent is that SPO will act as the sector’s thinktank.


  • monitor developments in the environment in which local authorities, both internal and external to the sector and provide the Chief Executive timely identification of these developments
  • monitor international literature (journals, websites, blogs) for issues or thinking that is relevant to New Zealand local authorities
  • consider the implications of anything identified from a. and b. for the sector both now, in the medium term and long term
  • present SPO’s thinking to the sector in an appropriate manner
  • make recommendations for inclusion in the SOLGM’s programme of good
  • practice and capability building initiatives
  • build relationships with those stakeholders with interests in, or the ability to influence local government’s operating environment.

View/download the Sector Policy and Outlook Working Party Terms of Reference.pdf

Current Members:


Mary-Anne MacLeod, Chief Executive - Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Deputy Chair:

Ross McNeil, Chief Executive, Rangitikei District Council


Blair Bowcott, Executive Director – Special Projects, Hamilton City Council

Rex Capil, Group Manager Community and Futures, Southland District Council.

Denise O’Shaughnessy, Manager Strategic Advice, Auckland Council.

Gillian (Gill) Payne, Strategic Advisor, Western Bay of Plenty District Council

Kathryn Ross, General Manager-Strategic Planning and Policy, Far North District Council.

Urlwyn Trebilco, Principal Strategic Advisor, Strategy, Waikato Regional Council.

2015/16 Report from Sector Futures Working Party Chair

Bill Bayfield - Environment Canterbury

The main focus for the year for the Sector Futures Working Party (SWP) was the delivery of three ‘Think Piece” reports. These were completed and released in the 14/15 year:

  • Fit for the Digital Future – technological change and local government (in conjunction with ALGIM)
  • Working Shoulder to Shoulder – co-governance and collaborative approaches and engagement skills
  • Climate Change: Local Government Can Make a Difference

The working party also undertook research for a piece of thought leadership around managing demographic changes, particularly the challenge of declining population. While undertaking this work SWPbecame aware of the good work being done by Waikato region councils and out of that came the Managing Demographics one day workshop which was held in early July 2016.

Work also started during the year on further ‘Think Piece’ reports, the first of which was the ‘Austerity: Creating Service Resilience’ (released on 21 July 2016). That report considered the strategies that the UK have employed to manage the impact of fiscal constraints and significant and on-going reductions in funding from central government. The strategies adopted by councils in the UK include service design and identification, co-production, increased community engagement, and shared service arrangements.The work included a literature review prepared and the resulting report provides a managerial perspective for New Zealand councils.

An exposure draft report on the issue of managing retreat is, at the time of writing, about to be released. This follows the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s November 2015 report which highlighted the impacts of sea level rise on local communities. These impacts will be felt in some communities starting at a point in the life of the current infrastructure strategy. There is little clear guidance or support for local authorities around having a conversation with their community where managed retreat is an option and SWP’s work has highlighted the complexity of retreat on a large scale, and that the policy framework is far from supportive of large scale retreat.

SWP commissioned Dr Roger Blakeley to review the latest international thinking on resilience, such as the work of the Rockefeller Foundation and the lessons that the two local authorities involved in this research are generating.His report, a practical piece of guidance on building resilient communities, was released in August 2016. It reflects the fact that resilience thinking is moving from the traditional civil defence oriented definition to one focussed on a community’s capacity to adapt to stresses and shocks.I also draws together initiatives underway in New Zealand, and makes recommendations on what further work SOLGM should undertake in this area.

SWP have been pleased to see some of our reports circulating amongst the policy community (see photo of our Climate Change Report being highlighted at a BECA event).Out of the work that has been done by SWP SOLGM has received invitations to speak at events such as the Environmental Defence Society, Antarctic Foundation, ALGIM and Water NZ.

Note: On 1 July 2016 this working party became the Sector Policy and Outlook Working Party.

SWP Members in the 2015/16 year:

Bill Bayfield (Chair), Sue Bidrose (Deputy), Mary-Anne Macleod, Blair Bowcott, Blair Dickie, Cameron McIntosh, Gill Payne, Denise O’Shaughnessy and Stephanie Rose (to May 2016)

Observer:Clare Wooding (LGNZ)

SOLGM Staff:Raymond Horan (lead), Shivani Makwana