" 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: mid-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
Principal Consultant Adrienne von Tunzelmann (CFInstD, New Zealand) has been elected 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:

More Effective Social Services The New Zealand Productivity Commission recently released its final report. It makes wide ranging recommendations on rethinking the way we design target and deliver social services especially for with complex needs. Although its recommendations do not specify any particular role for local government, MDL believes this is one of the most significant reports in recent years for councils concerned about the effective governance of their communities.

Local Early Action: how to make it happen. Report from the Southwark and Lambeth Early Action Commission. The theme of this report is both the benefits which come from early intervention to deal with a very wide range of social problems, and the role of community action. It's written in the context of the social service obligations of English local government but has some valuable insights for New Zealand councils concerned about the well-being of their own communities.

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

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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