The Council was established by a number of Acts of Parliament, and an Auckland Transition Agency, also created by the central government. Both the means by which the Council was established and its structure came under repeated criticism from a broad spectrum during the establishment period.
The initial Council elections in October 2010 returned a mostly centre-left council with Len Brown as mayor. Brown was re-elected in October 2013, again with a largely supportive council. The 2016 mayoral election was won by Labour MP Phil Goff, who had a landslide victory with his nearest rivals, Victoria Crone in second place, followed by Chlöe Swarbrick.
The Auckland Council took over the functions of the Auckland Regional Council and the region's seven city and district councils: Auckland City Council, Manukau City Council, Waitakere City Council, North Shore City Council, Papakura District Council, Rodney District Council and most of Franklin District Council.
The Auckland Regional Council was formed in 1989, replacing the Auckland Regional Authority. One of the mainstays of its work was expanding the parks network, and it brought into the Auckland Council 26 regional parks with more than 40,000 hectares, including many restored natural habitats and sanctuaries developed in co-operation with the Department of Conservation and volunteers. A variety of often public transport-focused projects like the Northern Busway as well as significant rail and public transport investments were realised through the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, much of it supported by retaining Ports of Auckland in public hands (after the deregulation of the Auckland Harbour Board) to fund the improvements with the dividends.
Until 2010, the Auckland Region had seven "City/District" authorities, plus one "Regional" authority. In the late 2000s, New Zealand's central government and parts of Auckland's society felt that this large number of Councils, and the lack of strong regional government (with the Auckland Regional Council only having limited powers) were hindering Auckland's progress, and that a form of stronger regional government, or an amalgamation under one local council, would be beneficial. Others pointed to the fact that a previous integration of the many much smaller Borough Councils did not bring the promised advantages either, and reduced local participation in politics, with editorialists pointing out that the (supposedly mainly Wellingtonian) proponents of the 'super city' have carefully not made any promises of savings in light of past rises in rates and utilities bills.