To the reader

Independent auditor’s report on Horizons Regional Council’s consultation document for its proposed 2024-34 Long-Term Plan

I am the Auditor-General’s appointed auditor for Horizons Regional Council (the Council). The Local Government Act 2002 (the Act) requires the Council to prepare a consultation document when developing its long-term plan. Section 93C of the Act sets out the content requirements of the consultation document and the Council requested me to audit the consultation document. I have carried out this audit using the staff and resources of Audit New Zealand. We completed our audit on 20 March 2024.


In our opinion:

  • the consultation document provides an effective basis for public participation in the Council's decision about the proposed content of its 2024-34 long-term plan, because it:
    • fairly represents the matters proposed for inclusion in the long-term plan; and
    • identifies and explains the main issues and choices facing the Council and region, and the consequences of those choices; and
  • the information and assumptions underlying the information in the consultation document are reasonable.

Emphasis on matter - uncertainty over funding of planned new transport services

  • Without modifying our opinion, we draw attention to this section, which outlines the high level of uncertainty over Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's (the Agency's) expected funding of planned new transport services. If the Agency does not provide funding or provides less funding than assumed, the Council will reconsider its options depending on the level of funding received, which will either affect the proposed levels of service or increase rates over the 10-year period.

Basis of opinion

We carried out our work in accordance with the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (New Zealand) 3000 (Revised) Assurance Engagements Other Than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information. In meeting the requirements of this standard, we took into account particular elements of the Auditor-General’s Auditing Standards and the International Standard on Assurance Engagements 3400 The Examination of Prospective Financial Information that were consistent with those requirements.

We assessed the evidence the Council has to support the information and disclosures in the consultation document. To select appropriate procedures, we assessed the risk of material misstatement and the Council’s systems and processes applying to the preparation of the consultation document.

We did not evaluate the security and controls over the publication of the consultation document.

Responsibilities of the Council and auditor

The Council is responsible for:

  • meeting all legal requirements relating to its procedures, decisions, consultation, disclosures, and other actions associated with preparing and publishing the consultation document and long-term plan, whether in printed or electronic form;
  • having systems and processes in place to provide the supporting information and analysis the Council needs to be able to prepare a consultation document and long-term plan that meet the purposes set out in the Act; and
  • ensuring that any forecast financial information being presented has been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice in New Zealand.

We are responsible for reporting on the consultation document, as required by section 93C of the Act. We do not express an opinion on the merits of any policy content of the consultation document.

Independence and quality management

We have complied with the Auditor- General’s independence and other ethical requirements, which incorporate the requirements of Professional and Ethical Standard 1 International Code of Ethics for Assurance Practitioners (including International Independence Standards) (New Zealand) (PES 1) issued by the New Zealand Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. PES 1 is founded on the fundamental principles of integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality, and professional behaviour.

We have also complied with the Auditor- General’s quality management requirements, which incorporate the requirements of Professional and Ethical Standard 3 Quality Management for Firms that Perform Audits or Reviews of Financial Statements, or Other Assurance or Related Services Engagements (PES 3) issued by the New Zealand Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. PES 3 requires our firm to design, implement and operate a system of quality management including policies or procedures regarding compliance with ethical requirements, professional standards, and applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

In addition to this audit and our report on the Council’s 2022-23 annual report, we have carried out engagements in the areas of of a limited assurance engagement related to the Region Council’s debenture trust deed, which is compatible with those independence requirements. Other than these engagements we have no relationship with or interests in the Council or any of its subsidiaries.

Andrew Clark

Audit New Zealand

On behalf of the Auditor-General, Wellington, New Zealand