" The paths to the future are not found but created"

Forthcoming book publication


Handbook of Research on Sub-National Governance and Development MDL Executive Director Peter McKinlay and Jenny Hodgson, Executive Director of the Global Fund for Community Foundations, are co-authoring a chapter for this handbook on the theme of the emerging role of trusts and foundations in community governance. Anticipated publication: late-2016.


Current projects

Council controlled organisations. We have been taking a fresh look at the role, place and governance of Council controlled organisations within the Council 'family'. It's very timely given the government's declared intention of encouraging greater use of CCOs. At MDL, we regard CCOs as accountability models at least as much as efficiency models and are working to encourage a greater understanding of the value they can add in enhancing democratic accountability. This work has drawn on our research published in the June 2015 issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration as Innovation in local government and governance: observations on emerging practice in New Zealand.

Completed Projects

Reviewing Council services. We have recently undertaken a critique of the obligation in section 17A of the New Zealand Local Government Act for councils to undertake service reviews. We have concluded that, although the section is written on a 'service by service' basis, both the Local Government Act as a whole, and international practice, support a more holistic approach, placing service reviews in the context of a council's overall approach to the way it works with its communities, and the outcomes it is seeking to achieve (an approach consistent with good practice in scrutiny in English local government, or with best value reviews in Victoria). For more information contact us.

Local and community governance. We have recently completed a piece of work on this topic drawing on our network of international researchers and practitioners. It highlights the very significant differences between New Zealand councils and councils in other jurisdictions in how they work with and engage their communities. For more information contact us.


What's New?

Local Government Amalgamation. The NSW state government is pressing ahead with a series of forced amalgamations of local councils both in Sydney and in rural/provincial NSW. In a fascinating initiative, two former Queensland state ministers, one from the Labour Government which led forced amalgamation in Queensland in 2007, and one from the Liberal Government which managed a number of de-amalgamations, have recently published a critique of local government amalgamation which is strongly critical of the conventional approach to amalgamation.

MDL's people
We’re thrilled to post that Principal Consultant Adrienne von Tunzelmann is the recipient of a Queen’s Service Order, awarded in the NZ 2016 Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list. Adrienne received the QSO for services to governance and the community.

Adrienne has also been appointed to the Governance Group for the NZ’s Ageing Well National Science Challenge. One of 11 Government-funded National Science Challenges, Ageing Well aims to harness science to sustain health and well-being into later years of life.     

This follows her election as Vice President of Age Concern New Zealand.

New local government resources on our website
We have significantly extended our website resources pages by uploading a selection of papers representative of our recent work relating to local government, including a number of conference keynote addresses, and presentations for individual councils and groups of councils. The collection can be found in our pages covering international, local governance, and a new page dedicated to local government reform.


Must Read

Look here for links to recent international publications to keep up-to-date with what's going on in areas related to our fields of work. Our current favourites are:

Engaging Citizens at the Heart of Power The Royal Society of the Arts, England's oldest and one of its most influential think tanks, has recently established an Economic Council as a catalyst for sparking a broader public discussion about the goals and priorities of economic policy, through an open online course and by promoting citizen deliberation over economic policy at events in communities up and down the country. This essay discusses three of the principal themes which the Council will explore.
The Real Deal: Pushing the parameters of devolution deals reviews the UK government's devolution initiatives for English local government and argues the devolution on offer is too constrained by the Treasury’s economic and social model, and cowed by the ongoing austerity agenda. Devolution should be about enabling local authorities to forge a progressive social, economic, democratic and environmental future. At the moment, it is not and it should and can be. It's a useful overview of the current state of local government reform in England.

Technology, Globalisation and the Future of Work in Europe: Essays on Employment in a Digitised Economy This recent publication from the London-based think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of employment. It's an excellent collection from a cross-section of leading European authorities on employment.



MDL has been recognised for its thought leadership across a number of sectors.  You can follow our latest thinking by clicking on the blog link below:

Latest Blogs

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Upcoming Events

Peter McKinlay has accepted an invitation to be a keynote speaker at the annual conference of Local Government NSW which takes place in Wollongong over 13-16 October. His theme will be 'Rethinking the Role of Local Government', looking forward at the extraordinary changes which are likely to take place over the next 10-20 years.

The Global Summit on Community Philanthropy will take place in Johannesburg on the first and second of December 2016. This event will bring together people from the community foundation movement, with people innovating with new forms of community governance. It will explore the coming together of philanthropy and development and among other things will showcase the role of community foundations in building community capability. Learn more ...

Auckland Conversations
Our recommendation for those in or near Auckland: the  Auckland Conversations series. Attendance is free. Top international and New Zealand speakers cover topics as wide-ranging as placemaking and neighbourhoods, liveable sustainable cities, urban transport, economic development, climate change and population trends. Enquiries to: aucklandconversations@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

NZ Institute of Public Administration
MDL supports the activities of the New Zealand Institute of Public Administration IPANZ.To see future events or to register, go to the IPANZ website.


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