Much of the initial attention on Jacinda Ardern's new Cabinet focused on Nanaia Mahuta's role as Foreign Affairs Minister.
Undoubtedly, there are some tough situations to negotiate - not the least China's latest bristling at New Zealand's involvement with the Five Eyes alliance - but some testing times also lie ahead in her other portfolio of Local Government Minister.
High-profile Tauranga City mayor Tenby Powell quit last Friday after the council voted to bring in a Crown manager over disunity among elected members. Powell's resignation speech called for commissioners to replace the council, claiming a "DNA of incompetence" among elected members needed to be "cauterised". Mahuta said she was expecting to be briefed on Thursday, November 26, before making a recommendation to Cabinet next month.
One of the critical moments in last month's General Election was the way the National Party declared a need to review Auckland Council, with party leader Judith Collins vowing to run a rule over the authority's performance and singling out Watercare and Auckland Transport (AT) for special attention.
The attempt to focus on the Supercity's apparent failings was lost, however, after a leaked email from National's Auckland Council spokeswoman Denise Lee called the policy a "highly problematic idea", "another working group", and decried bypassing her as "incredibly poor form and displays a shockingly bad example of poor culture".
Frustratingly, many Auckland ratepayers would share Collins' concerns but the conversation was lost in the political ruck.
Local government tumult isn't new but more is visible in the information age. Emotions range from mistrust to full-blown anger at local territorial authorities the length of the country.
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A Department of Internal Affairs review has found increasing problems at the Invercargill City Council and claimed veteran mayor Tim Shadbolt was unable to fulfill his duties, a claim he dismisses.
Wellington mayor Andy Foster is engaged in a heated dispute with several of his own councillors after being photographed apparently helping protesters occupy disputed Shelly Bay land, which the council had voted to sell and lease to developers.
One of the issues vexing many is the provision to establish Māori wards. While Māori electorates have long been a feature of national politics, until recently only three of New Zealand's 78 local authorities had Māori wards - Wairoa District Council and Bay of Plenty and Waikato regional councils.
Expect wards to flourish further, as Mahuta has promised to remove the requirement for the public to be polled before they can be established. She expressed such a wish in the previous Government but was apparently stymied by the presence of coalition partner NZ First. No such impediment remains.
While the desire to improve representation for tangata whenua is admirable, it's questionable whether this will improve overall efficiency, particularly among councils already displaying overt symptoms of malfunction in Covid-stressed times.
Mahuta has earned her place in Cabinet. Negotiating her way through the international tempests while steering local authorities into getting down to the business of better delivery of services for their catchments would be an achievement indeed.