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A clear submission with a whole Auckland point of view

Committee Secretariat  

Auckland Governance Legislation Committee  

Parliament House  

Wellington  

 24 June, 2009 

 

 

Tena koutou katoa, 

Submission to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on the Local 

Government (Auckland Council) Bill. 

 

Introduction 

1) Thank you for the opportunity to submit on the provisions of the Local 

Government (Auckland Council) Bill.  This submission is made on behalf 

of… 

 

2) I wish to appear before the select committee to speak to this submission. 

 

3) I am opposed to the bill in its entirety. 

 

4) The primary reason I am opposed to the bill is that I do not believe that 

major restructuring of local government is necessary in the first place.  Any 

issues with governance in Auckland could be resolved with relatively minor 

changes in existing legislation to more clearly delineate council roles and 

responsibilities, so that conflicts from overlapping functions can be avoided.  

The shake-up proposed in this bill and the associated legislation is heavy 

handed; it lacks an appropriate level of analysis and rationale, and the 

expense its implementation will incur to ratepayers is likely to be 

extortionate. 

 

5) In addition, I do not believe that the council structure proposed would 

provide well for the democratic and effective governance of the Auckland 

Region and its diverse communities, or for the sustainable use and 

protection of its natural resources. 

 

6) The proposed top-heavy structure will have little hope of fulfilling the 

purpose of local government in accordance with the Local Government Act 

2002.  I agree with the purpose of local government defined in the Act, and 

consider it important that Auckland local government achieves that purpose: 

i.e. to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf 

of, communities; and to promote the social, economic, environmental, and 

cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future. 

 

7) I am opposed to the creation of a single large government edifice to govern 

all of Auckland. A range of government levels from national to local is 

necessary to allow democracy, effective communication, resourcing and 

decision-making at a local level, as well as to provide appropriate scale and 

resources to deal with larger matters (e.g. integrated protection of 

indigenous biodiversity, sustainable energy, water, wastewater and public 

transport).  

 

8) Consequently, I am opposed to the concentrated power envisaged for the 

Mayor and the executive in the proposed Auckland Council.  In addition I 

consider that the proposed model of numerous small, powerless and non- 

autonomous community boards is flawed and will be ineffectual. 

 

9) The greatest challenges facing Auckland, and indeed the world today are 

related to environmental quality and sustainability.  No measure of economic 

success will allow the Auckland region or New Zealand to avoid dealing with 

environmental sustainability issues.  The result of any review of Auckland 

governance must be designed to tackle the growing resource and 

environmental issues that we will be facing in future years, not be focused 

on the issues or politics of the past.  Any future governance structure for 

Auckland should be tailored towards implementing original, small scale and 

distributed solutions for sustainability.  Similarly, it will need to effectively 

deliver small scale, empowered governance for sustainable communities.   

 

10) Should the government persist with this legislation, specific clauses of the 

Bill that I wish to submit on are as follows: 

Clause 8 – Governing body of Auckland Council 

 

11) All Councillors should be elected from wards, with none voted at-large. 

Auckland is such a large region that at-large elections would favour only the 

wealthy or famous, and not necessarily the best representatives for 

Auckland’s communities.  

 

12) I strongly favour the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system for the election 

of mayor and councillors at any level.  This will ensure proportional and 

democratic representation across the region’s communities, and in particular 

will ensure ethnic groups and minorities are not disenfranchised. 

 

13) Twenty councillors cannot represent the population of Auckland, and would 

fail to provide ‘local’ governance in any sense of the word.  Regardless of 

the final council structure, the number of councillors should be increased to 

represent Auckland’s 1.4 million citizens fairly. 

 

14)  Crown sovereignty and thus all government organisations in New Zealand 

are built on the foundation of the Treaty of Waitangi.  Consequently, 

dedicated Maori seats must be included in future Council representation.  

With the complex and overlapping Maori interests in Auckland, three Maori 

seats would be a bare minimum in my view.  I would also support a more 

innovative formula for Maori representation than a simple seat count, if it 

would lead to better representation of the various tribal interests in the 

region. 

 

Clause 9 – Mayor of Auckland 

15) The notion of a single individual vested with the powers envisaged by this 

clause is anathema to me, as it would allow him or her to effectively control 

the Council without proper debate or scrutiny, and it would not provide for 

democratic representation of Auckland’s communities.  I strongly oppose the 

clause. 

 

16) If an ‘Auckland Council’ is created, the Auckland mayor should have the 

same powers as other mayors in New Zealand.  The full council, not the 

mayor, should appoint the deputy mayor and all committee chairs. 

  

Clause 10 – Local boards 

17) As discussed above, I do not agree that the general structure of Auckland 

councils needs to be changed to provide more effective governance for the 

region.  However, if the structure is changed, I am opposed to the model of 

numerous weak local boards.  These would be entirely ineffectual. 

 

18) Instead, I submit there should be several local councils, with boundaries 

based on existing communities.  (I am not overly concerned at the number of 

councils). 

 

19) It is important that the local councils are all autonomous, and resourced 

sufficiently to plan, fund and deliver services locally.  Only those services 

that must be delivered at regional level should be governed at a regional 

level (e.g. regional parkland, sustainable water, wastewater and public 

transport and integration activities to protect indigenous biodiversity). 

 

Clause 11 – Status of local boards 

20) Local boards or councils should be formally established as legitimate local 

authorities, not merely as powerless consultation committees reporting to a 

bigger council.  Local Boards should have clearly defined roles and powers 

under the Resource Management Act, Local Government Act 2002 and 

other relevant legislation. 

 

Clause 11 – Membership of local boards 

21) As I have submitted above, I strongly favour the democratic Single 

Transferable Vote (STV) system for the election of councillors and/or board 

members, to ensure proportional and democratic representation. 

 

Clause 18 – Local Government Commission to determine boundaries of 

Auckland 

22) I am opposed to sub-clause (2) of this section.  The proposed redefinition of 

the southern Auckland regional boundary would result in an administrative 

split of one of mainland Auckland’s most significant natural and ecological 

features – the native forest of the Hunua Ranges.  This area is currently 

managed mostly within one park by a single entity (Auckland Regional 

Council).   

 

23) Local government has the responsibility under the Resource Management 

Act to maintain indigenous biodiversity.  The proposed boundary shift would 

result in an unnecessary and inefficient splitting up of the management of 

the Hunua Ranges (including forest and parkland) between Auckland and 

Waikato.  The boundary should be left where it is, or alternatively moved 

further south to encompass the southernmost portion of the Hunua Range. 

 

Other matters 

25) Any other clauses that need to be changed in order to give effect to the 

preceding recommendations should also be amended. 

 

26) I oppose the privatisation of public assets.  Public assets such as parks, the 

buildings and contents of libraries, galleries and museums, water and 

wastewater infrastructure, public transport assets, and Auckland zoo have 

been paid for by Aucklanders, and should remain in their ownership and 

control. 

 

27) It is with considerable disquiet that I have observed the progress of 

government’s hasty efforts to reorganise Auckland governance since it 

received the Royal Commission report earlier this year.  If local government  

is about anything, it is about the fair and democratic representation of the 

views of local communities in decisions on matters that affect them. 

 

28)  The government has not consulted Aucklanders on whether they want to 

disestablish their existing democratically elected councils.  Nor has it fulfilled 

its legal obligation to poll Auckland citizens on whether or not they support 

the proposed reorganisation, as required by Schedule 3 of the Local 

Government Act 2002. 

 

29) Nevertheless, I trust that the select committee will hold the democratic right 

of Aucklanders to be fairly represented in local government foremost in their 

minds during their deliberations on this legislation.  I look forward to a 

governance model in Auckland that truly enables democratic local decision- 

making and action by, and on behalf of the region’s communities.  I also 

urge the select committee to develop a governance structure that will be 

innovative and flexible enough to solve the resource, sustainability and 

environmental issues that we increasingly face. 

 

Thank you for considering this submission. 

 

Yours faithfully, 

 

 <name withheld on request>

 

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