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Requests for official information

On this page: Information the council holds, who can request information, how the council responds, dealing with requests for information, charges for the supply of information, complaints to the Ombudsman, how to contact us

Information the council holds

Waikato Regional Councilis bound by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA) and the Privacy Act 1993 (which covers requests for personal information).

The key purpose of LGOIMA is to:

  • make information held by local authorities more freely available
  • promote more open conduct of meetings
  • allow people proper access to information
  • protect information where it is in the public interest to do so, and for the sake of personal privacy.

What is ‘official information’?

Everything Waikato Regional Council holds in any form – written, computer generated, video or audiotapes, films, slides or photographs.

Who can request information

Any individual or groups/organisations can request information.

Requests can be made in person, by phone, fax, email or in writing.

Requests must be reasonably specific (but often people don’t know exactly what they want).

We can’t insist that people tell us why they want the information, however, we can ask them to clarify to help establish what information they want and determine if there are any reasons for withholding it.

How the council responds

Procedures are set out in Part II of the act, which covers responses to requests. We must give reasonable assistance to people making requests.

There are time limits on:

  • transferring requests if Waikato Regional Council is not the right agency
  • deciding whether or not to grant a request and notifying the person (within 20 working days)
  • providing the information.

Information should be available unless there’s a good reason for withholding it.

There may be privacy, confidentiality, legal, cultural and/or commercial factors or reasons that affect a decision to supply information.

Dealing with requests for information

Sections 10 to 18 of Part II of LGOIMA set out the procedures for dealing with requests.

We have a duty to help people asking for information, including:

  • helping the person to make a request under LGOIMA
  • helping the person to clarify exactly what information they want
  • transferring the request to the right agency or holder of the information if we are not
  • dealing with urgent requests for the information – the person requesting urgency must identify the reason for urgency.

We have time limits on:

  • transferring requests (within 10 working days)
  • deciding whether or not to grant a request and advising the person (within 20 working days).
    • If ‘yes’, there may be issues about how the information is to be provided and any charges to be made. In some cases the timeframe can be extended (particularly if a large volume of information or significant staff time is involved). The person must be advised with reasons and what the complaint procedures are.
    • If ‘no’, the advice must include reasons – the valid ones are contained in LGOIMA – and what the complaint procedures are.

Information generally means giving the person a copy of the document, but sometimes it may be more appropriate to allow the person to see the information.

There are only two conclusive reasons for withholding information – where providing the information would be likely to:

  • prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation and detection of offences and the right to a fair trial
  • endanger the safety of any person.

There are a number of ‘other’ reasons for withholding information, which must be weighed against public interest.

Charges for the supply of official information

Reasonable costs may be charged for requests for official information. Regard will be given to the amount actually incurred in responding to the request, including cost of the labour and materials involved in making the information available (section 13(3) Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987). The first 2 hours will not be charged, after which time staff will contact the requester to discuss charging for any further work required. Council reserves the right to waive all or some of the charges.

Complaints to the Ombudsman

If a requester is unhappy with a decision made under the act, they can ask the Ombudsman to investigate and review the decision.

Contact us

Official information requests should be addressed to the Chief Executive.

You can submit your request in writing, and send to:

Waikato Regional Council
Private Bag 3038
Waikato Mail Centre
Hamilton 3240

or email your request to official.information@waikatoregion.govt.nz

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