Horowhenua District drives digital uptake

How did a small regional council with a one person digital team drive 90% digital uptake?

With technology that puts user experience front & centre. 

Like many cities, many of Horowhenua's key services were hard for customers to find and complete, or weren't available online at all. For most people, transacting with the city meant having to call or visit their customer service centre during working hours, or print and mail requests.

HDC needed an online forms solution that could deliver Councils vision of digitizing every over the counter service, whilst being easy to use without specialist skills, for Councils 1 person digital team.

Since partnering with OpenCities, HDC has digitized over 60 services ranging from animal registration renewals and LIM applications, through to request forms and rates payments, measuring a significant uptake of online services by its community.



Within the first month of launching, Horowhenua saw an unprecedented shift from customer service calls to clicks. Online services like dog registrations, a high-touch request that residents frequently needed help completing, saw almost 600 online renewals from customers, who served themselves entirely unaided. 33% of customers served themselves after business hours, and 78% of these completed and paid for their renewal in under 10 minutes.”

Joanna Cooney, Website Officer, Horowhenua District Council


Many other popular services have also seen a significant digital uptake, with 90% of Property File Requests and LIM applications now being submitted & paid for online. By making payments more convenient and accessible, Horowhenua District Council has processed over $1.8M in transactions via OpenForms.  

Making online forms easier for customers has benefited city staff as well. “Our Records Processing team like receiving online applications as they know all of the required fields have been completed in full, meaning less time is spent chasing up information that is missing. And our Compliance team has benefits too – with less processing and manual matching of internet banking payments”, adds Joanna. 

With out of the box support for HDC’s payment gateway, setting up payment forms didn’t require any technical effort. And by connecting OpenForms with internal systems, HDC can validate information in real-time before finalising payments. For example, the dog registration renewal form checks registration reference numbers against Councils internal records, before allowing customers to finalise their renewal.


The platform we now have through OpenCities is agile, and we can get in there and do things really quickly. We don't have to think about what could be, we can actually just go and do it.”

David Clapperton, Chief Executive, Horowhenua District Council



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