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 s