Government plans to abolish Auckland's seven territorial councils and centralise power in a Super City has received a mixed bag of plaudits and criticism.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday confirmed the Government would create a single super council and single mayor for Auckland, as recommended by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

But he announced that the Government had rejected a key recommendation for six local councils under the main body, and would instead set up 20-30 "local boards" to address grassroots democracy. Mr Key said the model would allow Auckland's civic leaders to think regionally and plan strategically while protecting and enhancing local democracy.

Rodney Hide, the Local Government Minister, said the model of six local councils would mean unnecessary and costly duplication of services and be too large to allow for effective community representation.

The proposed local boards will have more power and functions than the current 30 community boards, but it will still be minimal.

They will have responsibility for such things as dog control and graffiti but will not be able to hire staff, set rates, manage local roads or hear and decide resource consents. They will be able to advocate for their local community and have an input into the Auckland Council plans. National and Act have also rejected a commission recommendation for three Maori seats on the Auckland Council, much to the anger of their Maori Party coalition partner.

Another proposal, for a social issues board to plan the use of $12 billion of tax spending in Auckland, has been rejected.

The region's mayors, with the exception of Auckland City's John Banks, have criticised the end of local councils in Auckland.

Papakura Mayor Calum Penrose said the structure "rips the guts out of local democracy" and focused power in the Auckland Council.

Labour leader Phil Goff said it was all about vesting local government in the glass towers of Queen St, while Labour's MP for New Lynn, David Cunliffe, called it a blatant gerrymander that worked against the west and south. "The retention of eight councillors elected at large underwrites a rightward bias. Only the rich and famous need apply to fund a city-wide campaign," Mr Cunliffe said.

Business organisations generally welcomed the structure, although the Employers and Manufacturers (Northern) group said local councils should be allowed to set rates.

Mr Hide said more work would be done on the roles and functions of locals councils. Local boards could have powers delegated from the Auckland Council and the ability to ask the council to set targeted rates for special projects in their communities.

Mr Hide acknowledged that the Auckland Council mayor and councillors could get sidelined on issues that are too big for local boards and too small in a regional and strategic sense.

Good examples include development of the Orakei Peninsula and a wastewater plant for Helensville. The Government has announced that Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands will each get their own local board because of the distinctive needs of both islands.

The boundaries for the other boards and the 12 ward councils will be determined by the Local Government Commission by April next year.

The transition from seven territorial councils and one regional council to the Super City will be handled by an independent establishment board appointed by the Government.

The Government has budgeted $13 million to start the process, but this sum and the rest of the transition costs would be paid by Auckland ratepayers, Mr Hide said. Both he and Mr Key were at pains not to promise any cost savings to ratepayers.

* The changes

What the Government has done differently from the Royal Commission report:

Rejected plans for three Maori seats.

Rejected six local councils below the Super City.

Rejected a city centre and waterfront community board.

Installed 20-30 local boards below the Super City.

Kicked for touch a social issues partnership between Auckland and Wellington.