There is a public seating area at meetings where you can observe the meeting, and many meetings have a public forum where you can speak if you wish.
Each Council meeting has a formal agenda of items for discussion that is completed one week before the Council meeting takes place. This agenda is made public two working days prior to the meeting.
The agenda includes any supporting reports and information required to assist Councillors during the meeting.
Meetings are organised and run by the regulations set in statute. These include the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, and the Local Government Act 2002.
At the beginning of ordinary meetings up to 30 minutes is set aside for public forum. Each speaker is allocated five minutes.
You don't need to pre-register your intention to speak - just take your turn when invited by the chairperson.
Members of the public may speak on any item within the delegations of that meeting provided the matters are not subject to legal proceedings, or subject to a consultation process which provides for submissions to be heard.
With the permission of the Chairperson, committee members may ask questions in public forum, but questions must be to obtain information or clarify of matters raised by the person speaking. Members won't engage in debate or make decisions about matters raised.
These presentations don't form part of the formal business of the meeting - a brief record will be kept of the matters raised. Any matters requiring further investigation may be referred to staff by the Chairperson.
Where two Committee or Subcommittee meetings are scheduled for one day, ordinarily only one public forum will be offered at the start of the first meeting.
If you intend to address the meeting in New Zealand Sign Language or in te reo Māori; notice must be given no less than two working days prior to the meeting being held.
Presentations are another way the public or community groups can address meetings.
Presentations may not be given on matters subject to legal proceedings, or subject to a process which provides for submissions to be heard. Presentations are limited to 10 minutes, unless the members of the meeting decide otherwise.
Presentations exclude presenting petitions.
We require at least one day's notice to the Chairperson or Chief Executive for an individual or community group to present during the 'public forum' part of the meeting.
Alternatively, presentations about any matter on the agenda for that meeting may also be received and heard during the normal course of the meeting, providing you have applied to, and received approval from, the Chairperson or Chief Executive at least two working days before the agenda is sent out to members.
The Chairperson can refuse a presentation, and also has the discretion to allow a late presentation, if it is an item of urgency or major public interest. Other stipulations also apply - please contact us if you intend to apply to give a presentation.
Any petition presented to the Council must be less than 50 words (not including signatories) and may not be disrespectful, malicious or use offensive language.
Where a petitioner wants to present a petition to a meeting, a limit of 5 minutes is placed on that person. Alternatively, a petitioner can ask a member to present a petition on their behalf. Petitions are normally taken during the 'public forum' part of a meeting.
It is recommended that the Chairperson or Chief Executive is notified in advance of a meeting that a person intends to present a petition.
Contact Council for other rules that may apply to petitions.
While all Council meetings are open to the public, sometimes parts of the meeting are kept confidential and the public are asked to leave (this is also known as 'In-Committee' meetings).
The meeting must agree that one or more of the reasons listed in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 apply for the public to be excluded and for the reports for that part of the agenda be kept confidential.
Ordinarily the items to be considered confidentially are listed in the publicly available agenda, along with the reasons why staff recommend they are kept confidential.