'Let's have a shot' - mayors in NZ's poorest regions want power and funds to tackle poverty

Three mayors of the poorest regions in the country want the freedom to call the spending shots in their own districts.

The idea involves creating special zones where locals are in charge of funding decisions. Source: 1 NEWS

The idea involves creating special zones in the Far North, Rotorua Lakes and the Gisborne district, where locals will be in charge of local decisions.

They believe it's a game-changer in the fight against poverty.

"We can do it, I'm absolutely convinced we can make a huge change," Far North District Council mayor John Carter said.

"It won't happen in two minutes, it might take five, 10, 15 years, but I'm certain we can, give us a go, we're going downhill anyway, let's have a shot."

Half of the Far North population live in the most deprived conditions in New Zealand, and residents say too many struggle to find work locally.

Within the proposed areas, officials would be empowered to make decisions on welfare, health, education and employment, putting existing money where it would be most effective.

"We've created subcultures of people who now don't live in our society," Mr Carter said.

"The sad part is a majority of New Zealanders don't know about it."

The Government isn't ruling the idea out.

"Certainly as Prime Minister I'm keen to see progress on it," Bill English said.

"Because a lot of the hard issues around improving services are detailed and local."