Horowhenua on the rise with second CouncilMARK™ report

Published on September 23, 2021

LGNZ logo - thumbnail image for CouncilMARK report.

Local Government New Zealand’s CouncilMARK™ programme is giving Horowhenua District Council’s performance a tick of approval in its second independent assessment.

LGNZ President Stuart Crosby says Horowhenua ratepayers can be pleased with their council’s efforts and trajectory.

“Horowhenua District Council has displayed competence, maturity and improvement over a three-year period, and is operating at a level where their ratepayers are receiving good value for money.

“Since their first CouncilMARK™ assessment in 2016, the Council has particularly improved in the areas of financial management, infrastructure strategy, and community engagement,” he says.

Horowhenua District is in a period of rapid population growth and infrastructure development which is unlikely to slow in the short to medium term. The Council has faced challenges including an accelerated infrastructure programme, increasing housing demand, and a need to diversify revenue sources.

Horowhenua District Council Mayor Bernie Wanden says “It’s our mission to constantly listen to and learn from our community and what they need from us.  CouncilMARK™ reports along with community feedback and research are some of the tools we use to help us improve.  It’s heartening to know that the actions we’ve taken and continue to take, are starting to pay off and be recognised.”

The CouncilMARK™ report says Horowhenua District Council and its elected members are generally experienced, motivated, engaged, and are effectively led by a consensus-seeking Mayor. It also commends the council finance team’s improved financial planning, which provides a clearer picture of challenges ahead and areas for improvement.

The Council’s progress on infrastructure has been made through improved management capability and a clear infrastructure strategy. The report also found there to be an effective alignment between infrastructure developments and spatial planning.

The Council underwent the first independent CouncilMARK™ assessment in 2016 and was awarded a “B”. In this year’s assessment, which was conducted in March, the Council has received an improved “BB” grade.

CouncilMARK™ is an independent assessment programme that evaluates how councils are performing and is designed to help them improve the service and value they provide their communities. The CouncilMARK™ Independent Assessment Board rates councils’ overall performance from C to AAA, and provides analysis on performance.

The Horowhenua report notes areas for improvement include a need to further rationalise strategies under the Horowhenua 2040 strategy, and that elected members and senior staff need to review their approach to risk to become a more risk-aware organisation.

The report also says relationships with iwi seem to be growing stronger, however, agreements with tangata whenua should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure effectiveness and consistency in a rapidly evolving growth environment.

Horowhenua District Council serves a population of 36,100 and is responsible for 583km of road and 853km of water pipes.

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