Official Information Requests

Official Information Requests are usually made to organisations and government departments under The Official Information Act 1982. In the case of local authorities, official requests for information are made under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 which contains similar provisions to the Official Information Act.

Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 - In 1987, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 extended the law about official information to cover information held by District councils and to cover meetings of public bodies, including those not open to the public.

The Office of the Ombudsmen describes the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 as:
"An Act to make official information held by local authorities more freely available, to provide for proper access by each person to official information relating to that person which is held by local authorities, to provide for the admission of the public to meetings of local authorities, to protect official information held by local authorities and the deliberations of local authorities to the extent consistent with the public interest and the preservation of personal privacy, and to establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes."

The guiding principle of the Act is that information must be made available if requested, unless a reason exists under the Act for withholding it. Requests for official information can be made under the Act and you are entitled to make the following requests:

(Ministry of Justice, Directory of Official Information, 1999)

Making a request

Requests to the Hurunui District Council under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 can be made by contacting the Council Secretary (graham.sutherland@hurunui.govt.nz ). It is best to make requests in writing, but this is not essential.

Some common questions about Official Information Requests

How much does it cost?

There may be a charge for official information but this must be reasonable and related to the cost involved.

How long does it take?

Requests must be answered within 20 working days. If the time is extended, you must be told about the delay and the reasons for it. 

Can I get a copy of the information?

You may ask for a copy of the information or you may inspect it, for example, if it is a large file.

Personal Information

Any personal information about you held by the Hurunui District Council is not covered by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. You may apply to the Hurunui District under the Privacy Act 1993 if you wish to obtain a copy of, or otherwise have access to, information held about you. You may also ask for it to be corrected.

Refusals

According to the Ministry of Justice, requests for information can only be refused for one of the reasons detailed in the Acts. You must be told the reason for the refusal and informed of your right to appeal to the Ombudsman. There are several interests which may lead to a refusal, including:

(Ministry of Justice, Directory of Official Information, 1999)

You can make an appeal or complain to the Ombudsman if you are refused access to information, if the request is not answered within the time limit, or if you are charged an unreasonable fee.

If the Ombudsman feels your complaint is justified, they can make a recommendation to the organisation concerned. There is no charge for making a complaint to the Ombudsman. To find out more about making an appeal, please refer to the Office of the Ombudsman website.