The Codes of Conduct for Councillors and Community Board Members at Christchurch City Council.

Council Code of Conduct

Download the Council Code of Conduct [PDF, 112 KB]

1. Introduction

This Code of Conduct (the Code) sets out the standards of behaviour expected from elected members of the Christchurch City Council (the Council) in the exercise of their duties. Its purpose is to:

  • enhance the effectiveness of the Council and the provision of good local government of the Council’s district;
  • ensure effective decision-making and community engagement;
  • promote the credibility and accountability of the Council to its communities; and
  • develop a culture of mutual trust, respect and tolerance between the members of the Council and between the members and management.

This purpose is given effect through the values, roles, responsibilities and specific behaviours agreed to in this Code.

Where referred to in the Code: 

The “governing body” consists of the mayor and members elected in accordance with the Local Electoral Act 2001 and responsible, and democratically accountable for, the decision-making of the Council. 

A “community board” consists of the members of each board elected in accordance with the Local Electoral Act 2001, and members of the governing body appointed to that board. 

The code applies to all members of the governing body and community boards, with any modifications necessary to reflect, where appropriate, that a reference to the Council is also a reference to a community board.

2. Scope

The Code has been adopted in accordance with clause 15 of Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA 2002) and applies to all members of the Council and community boards. The Code is designed to deal with the behaviour of members towards: 

  • each other;
  • the chief executive and staff;
  • the media; and
  • the general public.

It is also concerned with the disclosure of information that members receive in their capacity as elected members and information which impacts on the ability of the Council to give effect to its statutory responsibilities. 

For the purpose of ensuring consistency across the organisation members elected to community boards are requested to adopt this code without amendments.

Once it is adopted this code can only be amended (or substituted by a replacement Code) by a vote of at least 75 per cent of members present at a meeting of the Council. When an amendment to the Code is being considered. The Code should be read in conjunction with the Council’s Standing Orders.

3. Values

3.1 The Code is designed to give effect to the following values: 

  1. Public interest: members will serve the best interests of the people within their community, or district and discharge their duties conscientiously, to the best of their ability.
  2. Public trust: members, in order to foster community confidence and trust in  their Council, will work together constructively and uphold the values of honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency.
  3. Ethical behaviour: members will not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, will not behave improperly and will avoid the appearance of any such behaviour.
  4. Objectivity: members will make decisions on merit; including appointments, awarding contracts, and recommending individuals for rewards or benefits.
  5. Respect for others: will treat people, including other members, with respect and courtesy, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Members will respect the impartiality and integrity of officials.
  6. Duty to uphold the law: members will comply with all legislative requirements applying to their role, abide by this Code of Conduct, and act in accordance with the trust placed in them by the public.
  7. Equitable contribution: members will take all reasonable steps to ensure they fulfil the duties and responsibilities of office, including attending meetings and workshops, preparing for meetings, attending civic events, and participating in relevant training seminars.
  8. Leadership: members will actively promote and support these principles and ensure they are reflected in the way in which the Council operates, including a regular review and assessment of the Council’s collective performance.

These values complement, and work in conjunction with, the principles of s.14 of the LGA 2002 and the governance principles of s.39 of the LGA 2002. 

3.2 Values

Members also agree to reflect the following shared values in their dealings with each other in order to ‘respect the contest of ideas’, ‘balance the dual focus’, cultivate and strengthen trust amongst members (‘trust the team’).

  1. Respect: for each other and the perspectives, ideas, and experience members bring, consistently maintaining professionalism (including: investing energy preparing for, punctually attending, giving full attention to, and meaningfully contributing to, meetings);
  2. Trust: to ensure members can have confidence in the honesty and integrity of each other, and an expectation that confidentiality will be maintained when required;
  3. Empathy: for other members, expressed through being supportive, offering encouragement, and being prepared to offer forgiveness – we all make mistakes;
  4. Commitment: members will consistently seek to balance the ward view and the city-wide perspective, and take collective responsibility for the decisions reached by the Council;
  5. Effective Communication: members will engage and communicate through inclusive, assumption-free, informed, and reasoned debate, and outcome-focused deliberations, in order to achieve efficient decision-making, while valuing feedback between members.

The shared values set out in clause 3.2 are separate to those in 3.1. A breach of shared values will not constitute a breach of this Code of Conduct.

4. Role and responsibilities

Good governance requires clarity of roles and respect between those charged with responsibility for the leadership of the Council and those responsible for advice and the implementation of Council decisions. The key roles are:

4.1 Members

The role of the governing body of the Council includes:

  • representing the interests of the people of the Council’s district;
  • developing and adopting plans, policies and budgets;
  • monitoring the performance of the Council against stated goals and objectives set out in its long term plan;
  • providing prudent stewardship of the Council’s resources;
  • employing and monitoring the performance of the chief executive; and
  • ensuring the Council fulfils its responsibilities to be a ‘good employer’ and meets the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

The role of a community board includes:

  • representing, and acting as an advocate for, the interests of its community;
  • considering and reporting on all matters referred to it by the Council, or any matter of interest or concern to the community board;
  • maintaining an overview of services provided by the Council within its community;
  • preparing an annual submission to the Council for expenditure within its community;
  • communicating with community organisations and special interest groups within its community;
  • undertaking any other responsibilities that are delegated to the board by the Council.

4.2 Chief executive

The role of the chief executive includes:

  • implementing the decisions of the Council;
  • ensuring that all responsibilities delegated to the chief executive are properly performed or exercised;
  • ensuring the effective and efficient management of the activities of the Council;
  • maintaining systems to enable effective planning and accurate reporting of the financial and service performance of the Council;
  • providing leadership for the staff of the Council; and
  • employing staff on behalf of the Council (including negotiation of the terms of employment for those staff).

Under s.42 of the LGA 2002 the chief executive is the only person directly employed by the Council itself. All concerns about the performance of an individual member of staff must, in the first instance, be referred to the chief executive.

5. Relationships

This section of the Code sets out agreed standards of behaviour between members; members and staff; and members and the public.

5.1 Relationships between members

Given the importance of relationships to the effective performance of the Council, members will conduct their dealings with each other in a manner that:

  • maintains public confidence;
  • is open and honest;
  • is courteous;
  • is focused on issues rather than personalities;
  • avoids abuse of meeting procedures, such as a pattern of unnecessary notices of motion and/or repetitious points of order; and
  • avoids aggressive, offensive or abusive conduct, including the use of disrespectful or malicious language.

Any failure by members to act in the manner described in s.5.1 represents a breach of this Code.

Please note that nothing in this section of the Code is intended to limit robust debate within the Council as long as it is conducted in a respectful and insightful manner.

5.2 Relationships with staff

An important element of good governance involves the relationship between the Council and its chief executive. Members will respect arrangements put in place to facilitate this relationship, and:

  • raise any concerns about employees, officers or contracted officials with the chief executive;
  • raise any concerns about the performance or behaviour of the chief executive with the mayor;
  • make themselves aware of the obligations that the Council and the chief executive have as employers and observe those requirements at all times, such as the duty to be a good employer;
  • treat all employees with courtesy and respect and avoid publicly criticising any employee;
  • observe any protocols put in place by the chief executive concerning contact between members and employees;
  • avoid doing anything which might compromise, or could be seen as compromising, the impartiality of an employee.

Any failure by members to act in the manner described above represents a breach of this Code.

Please note: Elected members should be aware that failure to observe this portion of the Code may compromise the Council’s obligations to be a good employer and consequently expose the Council to civil litigation or affect the risk assessment of the Council’s management and governance control processes undertaken as part of the Council’s audit.

5.3 Relationship with the public

Given that the performance of the Council requires the trust and respect of individual citizens, members will:

  • interact with members of the public in a fair, respectful, equitable and honest manner;
  • be available to listen and respond openly and honestly to community concerns;
  • consider all points of view or interests when participating in debate and making decisions;
  • treat members of the public in a courteous manner; and
  • act in a way that upholds the reputation of the Council.

Any failure by members to act in the manner described above represents a breach of this Code.

6. Contact with the media

The media play an important part in the operation and efficacy of local democracy. In order to fulfil this role the media needs access to accurate and timely information about the affairs of the Council.

From time to time individual members will be approached to comment on a particular issue either on behalf of the Council, or as an elected member in their own right. When responding to the media members must be mindful that operational questions should be referred to the chief executive and policy-related questions referred to the mayor or the member with the appropriate delegated authority.

Paragraphs 6.1 and 6.2 deal with the rights and duties of elected members when speaking to the media on behalf of the Council or on their own behalf. 

6.1 Media contact on behalf of the Council

  • the mayor is the first point of contact for an official view of the governing body on any issue, unless delegations state otherwise. Where the mayor is absent requests for comment will be referred to the deputy mayor, relevant committee chairperson, or community board chairperson;
  • the mayor may refer any matter to the relevant committee chairperson, community board chairperson, or to the chief executive for their comment;
  • A community board chairperson is the first point of contact for an official view in relation to local matters where decision-making, public consultation, or advocacy is the responsibility of the community board.
  • no other member may comment on behalf of the Council without having first obtained the approval of the mayor or deputy mayor, relevant committee chairperson, or community board chairperson.

6.2 Media comment on a member’s own behalf

In this paragraph ‘media’ includes ‘social media’ such as Facebook, Twitter, or other electronic means of communication. 

Elected members are free to express a personal view in the media, at any time, provided the following rules are observed:

  • media comments must not state or imply that they represent the views of the governing body, committee, or community board.
  • Where an elected member is making a statement that is contrary to a governing body, committee or community board decision or Council policy, the member must not state or imply that his or her statement represents a majority view.
  • media comments must observe the other requirements of the Code; for example, comments should not disclose confidential information, criticize, or compromise the impartiality or integrity of staff; or be derogatory in respect of another elected member. and
  • media comments must not be misleading and should be accurate within the bounds of reasonableness.

Any failure by members to meet the standards set out above represents a breach of this Code.

7. Information

Access to information is critical to the effective performance of a local authority and the level of public trust felt by the public.

7.1 Confidential information

In the course of their duties members will receive information that they need to treat as confidential. This is information that staff will have judged should not be publicly available for any one of more of the reasons set out in sections 6 and 7 of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings act 1987. Often the information is either commercially sensitive or is personal to a particular individual or organisation.

The information will be clearly identified as being confidential. Members must not disclose or use confidential information for any purpose other than the purpose for which the information was supplied to them. Also, members must not disclose to any person, other than another member, Council staff, or person authorised by the chief executive, any information that has been, or will be, presented to a meeting from which members of the public are excluded, or it is proposed they be excluded.

Members may be offered, in their capacity as elected members, information from other sources on condition it remains confidential. In this situation, the provider of the information must be advised that if the information is concerned with a function or activity of the Council, the member has a duty to disclose confidential information to other members, Council staff and/or the chief executive. The offer should be declined if that duty is likely to be compromised. 

An example may be an alleged misuse of funds provided to a community group for a project.

Any failure by members to act in the manner described above may constitute a breach of this Code. Members should also be aware that such failure will impede the performance of the Council by inhibiting information flows and undermining public confidence in the organisation. It may also expose the Council to prosecution under the Privacy Act and/or civil litigation.

7.2 Use of Council Resources

Digital resources (for example mobile phones, digital devices, internet and email services) may be provided to elected members to support the efficient and effective performance of their duties. Reasonable personal use of these resources is allowed, provided such use does not compromise the Council’s systems, nor breach the general standards expected of a responsible digital citizen. Put simply, being a responsible digital citizen means respecting yourself, protecting yourself, respecting others, protecting others, respecting intellectual property, and protecting intellectual property.

8. Conflicts of Interest

Elected members will maintain a clear separation between their personal interests and their duties as elected members in order to ensure that they are free from bias (whether real or perceived). Members therefore must familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968 (LAMIA).

Members will not participate in any Council discussion or vote on any matter in which they have a pecuniary interest, other than an interest in common with the general public. This rule also applies where the member’s spouse contracts with the Council or has a pecuniary interest. Members shall make a declaration of interest as soon as practicable after becoming aware of any such interests. 

If a member is in any doubt as to whether or not a particular course of action (including a decision to take no action) raises a conflict of interest, then the member should seek guidance from the chief executive immediately. Members and/or the chief executive may contact the Office of the Auditor General for guidance as to whether a member has a pecuniary interest, and if so, may seek an exemption to allow that member to participate or vote on a particular issue in which they may have a pecuniary interest. The latter must be done before the discussion or vote. 

Please note: Failure to observe the requirements of the LAMIA could potentially invalidate the decision made, or the action taken, by the Council. Failure to observe these requirements could also leave the elected member open to prosecution (see Appendix A). In the event of a conviction, elected members can be ousted from office.

9. Register of Interests

The mayor and councillors (together referred to in this section as councillors) shall annually make a declaration of interest, to be recorded in the Register of Pecuniary and other Specified Interests adopted by the Council in 2013. This is based on the model used by members of parliament. 

The purpose of the Register is to provide transparency in the governance of the Council, and to increase public confidence in the democratic process. It is not intended to be a means by which the individual value or specific location of interests can be assessed. 

Details of the Register are set out in the ‘Register of Interests’ page of the Council’s website. The information required from councillors includes:

  • companies or other entities in which they have an interest (whether financial, as an owner, or as a member of the governing body);
  • employment;
  • trusts in which councillors are trustees and/or beneficiaries;
  • organisations or trusts that receive (or seek) funding from the Council or a community board and in which councillors may have an interest (whether financial or as a member of the governing body);
  • interests in property (whether as owner, lessee, or as beneficiary);
  • debtors and/or creditors, if the amount is greater than $50,000;
  • debts greater than $500 that are owed by councillors and paid by third parties;
  • payments received, and not previously declared for activities in which councillors are involved (such as directors’ fees, speaking engagements, and book royalties).

The Council has appointed an independent person as Registrar of Pecuniary Interests to assist with the completion of returns, receive returns, and arrange for the Register to be posted on the Council’s website. The Registrar will also receive and deal with any complaints raised by councillors about other councillors not complying with their obligations to complete returns. 

If the matter cannot be resolved by the Registrar to the satisfaction of the affected parties the member making the complaint may raise it as a complaint made against another member under para. 12.2 of this Code. 

Please note: where a councillor’s circumstances change he or she must ensure that the Register of Pecuniary and other Specified Interests is updated as soon as practicable.

10. Ethical behaviour

Members will seek to promote the highest standards of ethical conduct. Accordingly members wi