Frequently asked questions


What's the difference between a petition, a submission and a referendum?

A petition is a formal request to Council on behalf of a number of people about a particular issue or concern around Council business – it is generated by the community to Council and is usually presented in writing by a person to Council or the Community Board.

A submission is response to something Council has out for consultation, like a plan or bylaw or strategy. Submissions are usually written on a form or in an email to Council.

A referendum is a formal process by Council to gauge the community's response on an issue that affects the whole district or a specific area in the district (i.e. for a township).

Can anyone make a petition?

Yes, as long as they follow the guidelines (50 words max, in English or Te Reo, be respectful, and have the name & address and signatures).

Can anyone make a submission?

Yes, as long as they respond either on the form provided or on Council's online submission process.

Can anyone make a referendum?

No. Only Council can decide to make a referendum.

Can we submit a petition as a submission?

Yes, however each submission is taken on its own merit and no matter how many signatures are on a submission, it only counts as one.  So if a petition with 50 signatures are included in a submission, Council sees that as one submission and it's the content of the submission itself that is considered more important. Remember a petition is 50 words or less so that may not be adequate enough in a submission to respond to the issue being consulted on.

Is it true you need at least 10 signatures on a petition to Council?

No. A petition can have any number of signatures and there is no requirement for a minimum or maximum.

Does Council have to take action on a petition?

Legally, Council's only requirement is to acknowledge the petition has been received. Council does consider each request made through a petition, although they may not agree with it.  Petitions to local government are non-binding, i.e. Council is not legally bound to do what the petition is asking for. Given that petitions can come from anybody over any topic in the district, it is not feasible that Council will have to follow what it says – for instance, a petition requesting that only yellow flowers are planted in all Council parks is probably not something that the whole community would agree to. 

Does Council have to take action on a submission?

Legally Council's only requirement is to acknowledge it has been received and respond to the submitter.  Council does consider each submission received as part of the deliberation process after a consultation round.

Does Council have to take action on a referendum?

No. Referenda are not binding unless Council has decided to make it so at the start.

Is there any other way to get my point across for Council to hear?

Yes. Anybody can request to make a community deputation to Council. This is a formal process of being given permission to speak at a Council meeting on an issue or concern that is usually being discussed at that meeting.  Agendas for the meetings are available online beforehand and people can see the topics coming up and are free to attend the public meetings.  However, you cannot speak at a Council meeting unless you have been formally invited or given permission to do so.  This is easy to arrange through contacting the Committee Secretary via email.

Page reviewed: 09 Oct 2015 1:15pm