Submissions 101: A guide to giving feedback
What is a submission
A submission is feedback. It is your chance to present your opinions, observations, and recommendations on a matter before Council, to help councillors make an informed decision. Any individual or group/organisation can make a submission. Your submission can support, oppose, or express a point of view on the matter.
Councillors make decisions about the Taupō District – some decisions may impact a small community while other decisions can affect the entire district. Community involvement and feedback are an important part of Council's decision-making process.
When can you make a submission?
When Council decides to run a consultation and ask for submissions, this will be listed on our Consultation - have your say page. We will also advertise it in a range of places which will typically include local newspapers, our Facebook and Instagram social media pages, our Connect email newsletter and Antenno app.
Some examples of when the council might run a consultation and ask for submissions are:
- Draft strategies and plans
- Long-term Plan/Annual Plan
- Reviews of bylaws and policies
- Specific projects, e.g. new drinking water supply scheme
- Speed limit changes
To see current consultations, go to www.taupo.govt.nz/haveyoursay.
For more formal consultations, we may also give you the option to attend a hearing which is where you get the opportunity to speak to the decision-makers (usually the Mayor and Councillors) about your submission. In these cases, we will make your individual feedback (submission) public, as part of a hearing report.
Submissions may be presented in English or Te Reo Māori. For non-English speaking persons, an interpreter may be used.
Any person, organisation or group can make a submission.
If you are submitting on behalf of an organisation or group (e.g. a sports club), make sure you have permission to do so and that you are presenting the views of the group correctly. Only one submission per organisation/group can be accepted.
If an organisation or individual provides multiple submissions, we will combine the feedback into one submission. This means, if you wish to speak to your submission, you will only get one time slot – you will not get multiple timeslots for the multiple submissions that have been submitted.
If you are submitting on behalf of a group, it is good to indicate the number of people who support the submission, but please note it will be treated and processed as a single submission. So, if you list 20 people on the submission, it will not be counted as 20 individual submissions.
Every year we consult on a number of issues that may affect the community. Your feedback is important to us. Making a submission is the best and most important way for you to be heard.
While the consultation process is not a vote, your submission ensures your views are taken into account by those making the decisions. Also, by making a submission, you will have the chance to speak directly to the council during public hearings – only submitters have this opportunity.
It is important, as a member of the community, to take the opportunity to have your say. Not every decision will go the way you want it to, but the least you can do is let your voice be heard before a decision is made.
If you are an organisation or submitting on behalf of a group, provide some background information, such as the aims and structure of your group/organisation, how many members you have, and what consultation you have undertaken with your members to put this submission together.
As for your feedback, what you say is up to you. You can write as little as you wish or as much as you want. If the submission form contains questions, you can answer as many or as few of these as you wish. It is important that you keep your feedback focused on the issue at hand to ensure your submission is as relevant as possible.
It is also a good idea to keep feedback short and to the point – some consultations receive many submissions, so the easier and clearer they are to read, the easier it is for the elected members to do their job.
It is handy to remember that it is often not a ‘numbers game’ when the elected members are making a decision. One submission with a good idea, backed up with good reasoning and explanations, can have more effect than multiple submissions providing little or no explanation for the view.
You do not have to use the submission form. You are welcome to attach and upload any extra information alongside the submission form.
- That a submission process is a vote.
It is only part of the decision-making process, used to help inform the council. Council also considers things like expert advice, laws, and regulations.
- That a submission must be highly technical and/or written by a lawyer.
A submission can be made in plain language, it does not need to use fancy language or be written a lawyer or similar professional.
- That the submission process is simply a box-ticking exercise.
We review and analyse all feedback we receive and it plays an important role in decision making, along with advice from technical experts and other relevant evidence.
Review of your feedback
We review and analyse all feedback we receive, along with advice from technical experts and other relevant evidence.
Public feedback comes from a range of sources. These may include:
- online and paper feedback forms
- emails and letters
- comments on Taupō District Council social media posts
- comments made at public meetings.
For each individual project we will clarify up front:
- who will make the decision
- who will analyse your feedback and prepare the report
- what can or can't be changed
- what other sources of information we will consider
- what the timelines are for reporting and decision-making.
Making your feedback public
The feedback form you fill out will always specify whether your feedback (including name and contact details) will be made public.
For more formal consultations, we may also give you the option to attend a hearing and speak to the decision-makers.
In these cases, we will make your individual feedback (submission) public, as part of a hearing report.
Someone from council will contact you with a time and date on when the hearing is.
Once we have analysed all feedback and other relevant information, we provide a summary report of key findings to decision-makers. This report may include a copy of the feedback received.
We make a copy of the decision and report available for anyone to see. If you would like more information about why the decision was made, you have a right to ask for it. We will publish the reports as soon as they are available. If you give us your contact details, we may also send you an update by email or post.
Once a decision is made, we will publish the outcome on this website. We may also let you know by email or post.
We have a responsibility to show our communities how we try to include the views of people affected by the issue or project, what feedback we received and how that led to the decisions that were made.
Submission – Feedback given to council to help understand the community’s feeling towards a decision.
Consultation – The formal process of collecting feedback from the community to help council make decisions.
Council – Includes the Mayor, councillors, and all other operational council staff such as parks and reserves, transport and engagement teams.
Councillors – The elected members who sit on the council and make decisions for the district.
Elected representatives – The Mayor and councillors.
Long-term Plan – Council’s guiding document for the next 10 years. It outlines our plans and priorities for the district over this period.
Annual Plan – The Annual Plan is based on Council's main strategic planning document, the Long-term Plan (LTP). It details the activities Council intends to carry out over the coming financial year, how much these activities will cost and how they will be funded.
Hearing – An opportunity for submitters (those who provided feedback) to speak to their submission in front of the elected members.