Three Hawke's Bay councils are striving to deliver better outcomes for their communities by signing up to the Local Government Excellence Programme.

Local authorities in Hastings, Napier and Wairoa have come on board as part of 21 metropolitan, rural, provincial and regional councils set to lead the local government standards system.

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said this support - from 27 per cent of New Zealand's councils - showed a desire from the local bodies to raise performance and improve outcomes.

"To me it shows a commitment from the sector to lifting and demonstrating our performance so that the communities we serve can have greater confidence in what we do," Mr Yule said.

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According to LGNZ, the new programme will see councils assessed by independent experts, given an A, B or C rating and the results shared with the public.

Mr Yule said whether this is financial decision-making, the way councils communicate and engage with the community, their governance and leadership or their service delivery and asset management, all councils will likely have areas they can improve on and areas they excel in.

Wairoa District Council chief executive Fergus Power said his local body signed up because it was always "looking for ways to improve".

"I am very proud of the team in terms of not having any hesitation about stepping forward because obviously there is always risk when you do this sort of thing that maybe you will be found wanting," he said.

Napier City Council chief executive Wayne Jack said his authority was keen to be part of the programme as soon as it was introduced.

"So to be selected as a foundation council at this early stage is fantastic," he said.

Assessment began on an initial group of councils at the start of this month and will continue into 2017, with the results to be shared from around the middle of next year.