This dataset is the definitive set of regional council boundaries as at 1 January 2018 as defined by the regional councils and/or Local Government Commission and maintained by Stats NZ. This version contains 16 regional councils.The regional council is the top tier of local government in New Zealand. There are 16 regional councils in New Zealand (defined by Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Local Government Act 2002). Eleven are governed by an elected regional council, while five are governed by territorial authorities (the second tier of local government), who also perform the functions of a regional council and are known as unitary authorities. These unitary authorities are Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, and Gisborne, Tasman, and Marlborough District Councils. The Chatham Islands Council also performs some of the functions of a regional council, but is not strictly a unitary authority. Unitary authorities act as regional councils for legislative purposes. Regional councils are responsible for administrating many environmental and transport matters, such as land transport planning and harbour navigation and safety.Regional councils were established in 1989 after the abolition of the 22 local government regions. The Local Government Act 2002 requires the boundaries of regions to conform, as far as possible, to one or more water catchments. When determining regional boundaries, the Local Government Commission considered regional communities of interest when selecting which water catchments to include in a region. It also considered factors such as natural resource management, land use planning, and environmental matters. Some regional council boundaries are coterminous with territorial authority boundaries, but there are several exceptions. An example is Taupo District, which is geographically split between four regions, although most of its area falls within the Waikato Region. Where territorial local authorities straddle regional council boundaries, the affected area is statistically defined by complete regional councils. In general, however, regional councils contain complete territorial authorities. Auckland Council unitary authority was formed in 2010, under the Local Government (Tamaki Makarau Reorganisation) Act 2009, replacing the Auckland Regional Council and seven territorial authorities.The seaward boundary of any coastal regional council is the twelve-mile New Zealand territorial limit. Regional councils are defined at meshblock, statistical area 1 (SA1), and statistical area 2 (SA2) levels.Regional councils included in the 2018 digital pattern are:Regional council codeRegional council name01Northland Region02Auckland Region03Waikato Region04Bay of Plenty Region05Gisborne Region06Hawke's Bay Region07Taranaki Region08Manawatu-Wanganui Region09Wellington Region12West Coast Region13Canterbury Region14Otago Region15Southland Region16Tasman Region17Nelson Region18Marlborough Region99Area Outside RegionDigital boundary data became freely available on 1 July 2007.
Regional councils are based on the meshblock pattern. Non-alignment of meshblock and cadastral boundaries are one of a number of reasons for meshblock boundary adjustments. Other reasons include requests from local authorities, Local Government Commission, Electoral Representation Commission and to make census enumeration processes easier. From the meshblock pattern, higher geographies, including the 2018 regional council pattern, were dissolved using the dissolve tool in the Arc GIS suite.