The Australasian Management Challenge


Each year SOLGM runs the New Zealand leg of the Management Challenge, Australasia’s premier forum for current and emerging local government leaders. The winners of the New Zealand leg then go on to represent New Zealand at the Australasian Finals. There they compete against the winning teams from the seven Australian states. New Zealand teams have an exceptional record at the finals with three firsts during recent years. Our sister organisation, LGProfessionals Australia administers the Challenge while SOLGM runs the New Zealand leg of the Challenge.

The 2019 NZ Leg of the Australasian Management Challenge will take place on the 21 and 22 of May 2019 at Silverstream Retreat.

Consider entering a team! Find out how to register

Picking a Challenge Team

Teams have six members and a mentor. Councils that have taken part in the Challenge for many years will usually have a strategy for selecting their team members. For councils new to the Challenge the team members typically come from a variety of departments across the council. This means the team can not only draw on a range of skills and knowledge, it importantly adds to the collaborative experience - some past participants have said they've learned more about their wider council at a Challenge than while at work! We recommend that the team include someone who has communications experience as the day’s tasks usually include at least one where reporting or external communications is a very useful skill.

Team members are usually, though not exclusively, in mid-tier roles. The final selection of team members will depend on each council’s objectives for the Challenge so it's perfectly legitimate to select someone with leadership potential but who is still at the start of their local government career. Conversely very senior managers have taken part and found it a valuable experience.

Please email if you'd like more information on the Challenge.

About the 2018 Management Challenge

The 2018 Management Challenge – New Zealand leg

The New Zealand leg of the Challenge again took place at Silverstream Retreat on 13 and 14 March 2018, this time with 15 council teams taking part. The winning team, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, was announced on 12 April 2018 at the SOLGM Gala Dinner . They then competed in, and won, the Australasian Finals which were held in conjunction with LGProfessionals Australia's National Congress in Canberra from 22-24 August 2018.

The councils that entered in 2018 were:

Christchurch City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Taupo District Council, Tauranga City Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, Whakatane District Council, Otago Regional Council, New Plymouth District Council, Hastings District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato District Council, Hauraki District Council, Otorohanga District Council, Auckland Council and Wellington City Council.

The judges said:

2018 was a hotly contested challenge with a very high calibre of teams. This year 15 teams from across the country competed to win the New Zealand leg of the Australasian Management Challenge and the right to represent New Zealand in the finals in Canberra in August. A competitive, fun spirit was apparent this year and the high standard of previous years was once again evident. As always there can only be one winner of the Challenge. This year’s winner is Bay of Plenty Regional Council. An extremely close run second goes to Hastings District Council, and third to Otago Regional Council.

The judges were impressed by the calm, business like attitude and well thought through team management of Bay Of Plenty Regional Council. This group produced high quality reports across a number of areas, successfully using evidence based research and information to back up their recommendations. The Silverstream venue once again provided a centralised working space for teams that engendered high levels of energy and focus.

The judges would like to congratulate all of the teams. Every team put 100% effort into every challenge which reflects their commitment to the Local Government sector. We believe all the teams would agree that using The Management Challenge as a part of the Council’s overall training strategy is of significant benefit to the Council and the participants.

Australasian Management Challenge Grand Final

Bay of Plenty Regional Council then went on to compete in the Grand Final of the 2018 Australasian Management Challenge held in Canberra and were announced as the winner at the LG Professionals Australia National Congress 2018 on Thursday 23 August 2018.

Lead Facilitators of the 2018 Australian Management Challenge, Jim Myhill and Jane Trotter, commented on the winning team: "The teams that competed in the Final of the Australasian Management Challenge in Canberra were the eight regional Challenge winners. These teams were the best of the best, so we expected a high standard. Even against such high-calibre competition the Bay of Plenty team shone through. They displayed outstanding professionalism, problem-solving, attention to detail and teamwork - they were very worthy winners."

Bay of Plenty Regional Council also won the best "Risk Task" award. This task was a component of the Management Challenge and was developed and judged by the Principal Partner of the National Congress and Management Challenge - JLT.

More about the Management Challenge

The Challenge is designed to enhance leadership and management skills of managers and staff in local government. This team-based learning and development programme which has been running for more than 20 years, is delivered in New Zealand and in Australia.

This is not just a one day event. Councils can use the Management Challenge to achieve strategic professional development outcomes for staff. It is recognised for its hands-on and real-life approach to leadership development. Participants come away with new and practical insights into excellence in leadership and management. More info can be found here.

The Challenge is different to other seminar or traditional training programmes and benefits councils by:

  • Growing inter-departmental relationships
  • Breaking down silos
  • Building capacity
  • Attracting and retaining staff
  • Improving organisational culture, and
  • Promoting team-work.
  • The teams participate in a huge range of activities all designed to test management skills both as a group and as individuals. The Australasian Management Challenge is developed in Australia by LG Professionals Australia and delivered by SOLGM in New Zealand. It is sponsored by JLT.
  • Want to know more? For more information please contact:

The Australian Management Challenge website also has more information.

Who Should Enter

All council organisations. Come up with a team of 5-6 members plus appoint a team mentor.

The team members can be:

  • Any council staff who you have identified as having potential to be a leader or manager in your organisation
  • Any up and coming managers or emerging leaders in your organisation
  • May also include elected members or staff working in your CCOs

More accessible for smaller councils

There are at least two approaches to make the Management Challenge more accessible for smaller local authorities who may not have enough staff to form a team.

Joined Up Council teams

You can join up with a neighbouring council to form a team. In the past, we have seen joined up teams from Gore and Waitaki District Councils and Rangitikei and Manawatu District Councils.

This approach can promote team work across two different councils and more importantly, share the costs of entering.

Guest team members

If you are from a territorial authority with population under 30,000 or a regional council with population of 100,000 and you find it difficult to form a team of 6 from within your organisation, you can now invite up to 2 guest members to join your team.

Your guest members can come from any organisations, such as CCOs, private companies or government or community organisations you work with on a regular basis.

And you can negotiate with them to share the cost of entering. This is a great opportunity to promote cross organisational team work.