9.1.2 Roles and responsibilities


  1. The chief executive has overall responsibility for Auckland Council’s operational management. As the administrative head, he/she may be referred to as the council’s principal administrative officer [1].

  2. The chief executive is expected to be apolitical and not to make political or policy decisions. This is the role of the elected members. The chief executive may engage with politicians (including Ministers of the Crown and their offices) on matters in which the council has an interest and is often the ‘face of the council’. 

  3. The chief executive also has a number of specific roles and responsibilities set out in legislation [2] which should be carried out within the budgetary constraints set by the council in the Long-term and Annual Plans.

  4. Implementing council decisions

    • One of the chief executive’s main roles is to implement the council’s decisions, [3] i.e. decisions made by the governing body, local boards [4] and co-governance entities.

    • As the employer, the governing body can direct the chief executive. However, as the operational head of the council the chief executive has autonomy as to how those directions are carried out, provided he or she acts within the scope of his or her powers.

  5. Advising elected members

    • It is also part of the chief executive’s role to provide advice to governing body or their delegated committees, local board members and co-governance groups  [5].

    • The chief executive and/or council staff attend governing body (including committees) meetings, local board meetings and co-governance entities to advise members in person.

    • Council staff also advise elected members, either informally [6] or through formal reports provided prior to meetings. Where reports are provided, the council employee may also attend the relevant meeting to answer questions or speak to the report.

    • The chief executive is responsible for ensuring the best possible advice is provided to elected members.

  6. Supporting local boards

    • Each local board makes an agreement with the governing body every year covering the delivery and funding of services in the relevant local area. The chief executive is responsible for implementing each of these local board agreements on behalf of Auckland Council [7]

    • The chief executive must provide the necessary administrative facilities for each local board to carry out its functions and duties [8].

    • While the chief executive is accessible to all elected members, it is not practical, given their number, to maintain regular personal engagement with all members. For general matters, the chief executive engages with local board members through the Local Board Chairs Forum [9] and is accessible by email or writing for specific matters.

  7. Management of Auckland Council

    • The chief executive is ultimately responsible for the management of Auckland Council, including its administration, operations and service delivery. In particular, it is the chief executive’s role to ensure the proper performance and exercise of all responsibilities, duties and powers delegated to, imposed or conferred (by an Act, regulation or bylaw) on him/her or any council employee [10].

    • It is also up to the chief executive to ensure that the council’s activities are managed effectively and efficiently [11]. This includes ensuring powers and functions are appropriately delegated to ensure effective and efficient conduct of council business.

    • Similarly, the chief executive is responsible for maintaining systems to enable effective planning and accurate reporting of Auckland Council’s financial and service performance [12].

    • The chief executive must also ensure, so far as practicable, that the council’s management structure reflects and reinforces the separation of regulatory responsibilities and decision-making processes, and is capable of delivering adequate advice to facilitate the explicit resolution of conflicting objectives [13].

    • This statutory role gives effect to the principle of separating governance functions, which requires responsibility for regulatory functions to be distinct from other non-regulatory functions [14]. It also emphasises that any trade-offs between conflicting objectives should be made in an open and transparent manner. 

    • Council staff (such as the Audit and Risk units) can investigate where such conflicts arise; processes are in place to manage such conflicts.

  8. Leadership and management of staff

    • The chief executive is responsible for employing and negotiating the terms of staff employment [15]. This is carried out by the chief executive on behalf of and in the name of Auckland Council, and must be done in accordance with the council’s recruitment and remuneration policies.

    • The chief executive is also responsible for providing leadership to staff [16]. Attributes for this role are set out in statute, particularly the chief executive’s responsibility to instill a spirit of service to the community in staff and maintain appropriate standards of integrity and conduct [17].

    • The chief executive’s leadership role is implemented through various mechanisms, including the council’s business planning, organisational strategy and performance plan, standards of employment, and various policies and staff code of conduct.

  9. Other powers conferred by statute

    • The chief executive also has a number of other powers conferred directly under various statutes.

    • For example, under the Public Works Act 1981, the chief executive is given specific powers, including signing certain documents [18] and executing certificates of grants of land [19].

    • Where a statute directly confers a power on the chief executive, he/she may delegate that power to any other council officer (there can be exceptions to this general rule) [20].



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