Together we can make our streets safer

In uniting against Covid-19, Aucklanders stayed home, stayed safe and went out of their way to be kind.  Local trips during lockdown for exercise and essential travel were on relatively quiet, stress-free roads. Low traffic volumes allowed Aucklanders to reclaim their neighbourhoods and gave many the confidence to take to walking and cycling.

We have an opportunity to embed this kindness into our collective culture; and extend it to our behaviour behind the wheel. The changes coming on 30 June 2020 will make for permanently safer streets for everyone and build on the enthusiasm for active transport.

New speed limits in the city centre from 30 June 2020

On this day Auckland Transport will roll-out safe new speed limits around the region designed to stop people being killed or seriously injured on our roads. In the first phase, more than 600 self-explaining and high-risk roads will have new and safe speed limits.

From 30 June 2020, most of Auckland’s city centre will have a speed limit of 30km/h (the current 10km/h combined pedestrian and vehicle zones will remain). Speed limits on Hobson, Fanshawe and Nelson streets will be reduced to 40km/h instead of 30km/h. In addition, AT will implement engineering treatments on these arterials to protect vulnerable road users like people walking and cycling.

Slower speeds in the city centre will create a safer environment for everyone and complement the initiatives already underway to create a people focused city centre.  Auckland is falling into line with international best practice and joining communities aspiring to a transport system where nobody dies if someone stuffs up.

Setting safe speeds is one the quickest and cost-effective ways to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

The work towards the roll out of lower speed limits began with the Auckland Council Planning Committee’s September 2018 resolution requesting Auckland Transport to accelerate the road safety and speed management programmes and seek input from partners to make Auckland a Vision Zero region.   In September 2019 Auckland Transport’s board approved the Vision Zero strategy for the Auckland region.

This was a major milestone that I had worked towards with many other road safety advocates advocates including Living Streets Aotearoa, Bike Auckland, Brake NZ the road safety charity and NZ School Speeds.  Sweden may have followed a fatally misguided response to Covid-19 but when it comes to a different kind of crisis Sweden’s Vision Zero road safety strategy, first introduced in 1995, has proved successful as a pathway towards eliminating road trauma. Vision Zero is an ethics-based approach that puts human life ahead of any other benefits and has now been adopted around the world.

Road crashes will happen but what we need to do is to make them “survivable” when people inevitably make mistakes. Survivable means that people involved in a crash should be able to walk away rather than be carried away by first responders.

No matter what causes a crash, speed is the undeniable factor in whether a crash is likely to occur and whether it kills or seriously injures those involved.   Evidence also shows that for every additional kilometre of speed, the chances of getting involved in a fatal crash are at least four times greater.

The benefits extend beyond lives saved.  Safer speeds are a pro-community and pro-business response. Lower speed limits have the potential to improve traffic flow, improve fuel efficiency, reduce pollution and noise. Fewer severe crashes mean less time delays and decreased business interruption.

Speed limit reductions are only one part of a package of measures that what will make our neighbourhoods more liveable, equitable, healthy and safe. We need to continue investment in road safety treatments, driver education that entrenches a “be kind” approach to everyone on the road and walking and cycling infrastructure to incentivise choosing active transport

30 June is an important date for Auckland. It marks the next stage of our journey to making our roads and streets kinder and safer for everyone.

 

A version of this article appeared in the July Ponsonby News

 

 

Councillor report June 2020

General update

This is my Councillor report covering the period from 21 April until 5 June.  It has been prepared for the Waitematā Board business meeting to be held on 16 June.

The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the local board regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events and meetings, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.

Positions

  • Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board
  • Board Member, LGNZ National Council
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee

Summary

  • Auckland Council lockdown activity

    In my previous written report to the local board, I reported on Auckland Council’s response as the pandemic unfolded and through the lockdown period.

  • As NZ moved from Alert Level 3 to 2 council facilities and venues opened up and planning was well underway for the post Covid-19 recovery.
  • The Emergency Committee was established as an ad hoc committee of the whole of the Governing Body due to the pandemic.  The final Emergency Committee meeting was held on 28 May. Workshops and Committees of the whole have recommenced meeting again from the beginning of June.
  • Following advice from Watercare, mandatory water restrictions came into effect on 16 May due to the ongoing drought
  • The first co-chaired Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting was held on 25 May
  • Consultation on the Emergency Budget 2020/2021 started on 29 May

Governing Body meetings

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only.

On 23 April the Emergency Committee approved the levy for funding Auckland’s regional amenities for the next financial year, appointed Phil Wilson as the Group Recovery Manager for COVID-19 and received its regular Auckland Emergency Management update.

Watercare Chief Executive Raveen Jaduram also provided an update on Auckland’s water shortage situation and the requirements for stage one water restrictions.

On 30 April the Emergency Committee received the regular weekly update on the Covid-19 pandemic and the Auckland Emergency Management response.

The committee approved the total levy applied for by the Museum of Transport and Technology of $14,890,578 for 2020/2021 and made appointments to the District Licensing Committee.  A governing body meeting was also held to approve Bylaw Panel recommendations on the proposed new Food Safety Information Bylaw 2020 and approve procedural plan changes.

On 7 May the Emergency Committee received the regular weekly update on the Covid-19 pandemic and the Auckland Emergency Management response.

Upper Nihotupu Dam, Waitakere Feb 7 vs May 8

In response to one of the most severe droughts in Auckland’s history, the committee voted unanimously to introduce mandatory water restrictions, which will come into effect across the region from Saturday 16 May.

Auckland Council’s submission on the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport was approved and the committee endorsed Auckland Transport’s applications to the first tranche of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets for People pilot fund. It also approved the process for developing a recommended package of projects for the second funding round closing on 3 July 2020, which will include Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and Panuku Development Auckland projects.

On 14 May the Emergency Committee received the regular weekly update on the Covid-19 pandemic and the Auckland Emergency Management response.

The committee unanimously endorsed the rationale, scope, and proposed process for updating the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) 2020 and its terms of reference.  Within the terms of reference, it was agreed to propose an additional objective for the shared government and council priorities for transport in Auckland to improve the resilience and sustainability of Auckland’s transport system and significantly reduce greenhouse gases.  The refresh will consider a number of emerging issues including the impact of Covid-19 on funding, any government economic stimulus packages, the New Zealand Upgrade Programme (NZUP) of transport investment in Auckland, climate change, mode shift and emerging brownfield and greenfield priorities.

The committee considered the reappointment of three directors of the Tāmaki Redevelopment Company (TRC).  Of the directors on the board, Auckland Council and the government appoint one director each and the remaining directors are jointly appointed by both the government and the council.  With the terms of three of the current directors ending soon decisions need to be made about appointments to those positions.

On 21 May the Emergency Committee received the regular weekly update on the Covid-19 pandemic and the Auckland Emergency Management response.

The committee received Local Board feedback on the first round of public consultation on the Emergency Budget 2020/2021 for consideration when decisions are made.

The committee agreed to consult alongside the Emergency Budget 2020/2021 on the addition to the Rates remission and postponement policy of a COVID-19 Rates postponement scheme.

The committee agreed unanimously to publicly consult on a Covid-19 rates postponement scheme alongside the consultation on the Emergency Budget 2020/2021. Under the proposed scheme rates postponement will be available to all residential and business ratepayers financially stressed because of Covid-19.

The council consulted with Aucklanders on the Annual Budget 2020/2021 from mid-February to mid-March this year. However, due to the impact of Covid-19 the council is proposing to consult on further matters for the Emergency Budget 2020/2021.The committee made a recommendation to the council’s Governing Body to endorse a recommended engagement approach for further consultation on the Emergency Budget to take place from 29 May 2020 to 19 June 2020.

On 28 May the Emergency Committee received the regular weekly update on the Covid-19 pandemic and the Auckland Emergency Management response.

The committee endorsed the Water Supply and Wastewater Network Bylaw 2015 Review findings report. A further options report will be brought to the Regulatory Committee in June.

The Governing Body meeting on 28 May minor changes to rating policy and some fees for inclusion in the Emergency Budget 2020/2021 and amendments to the council’s Revenue and Financing Policy were adoped. These changes were publicly consulted on in February and March this year and some of the changes recommended are subject to the consideration of further feedback.

The Governing Body endorsed the engagement approach for public consultation on the Emergency Budget following a recommendation from the Emergency Committee. To adhere to Covid-19 health and safety requirements a digitally led engagement approach is recommended, including the use of online webinar events, with feedback options through written, telephone and digital channels.

On 4 June the Planning Committee approved Auckland Transport and Auckland Council’s proposed list of projects for further development and assessment prior to submission to the second application round of the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Innovating Streets for People pilot fund closing on 3 July 2020.

The Planning Committee endorsed Auckland Council’s draft submission on the proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality: Particulate Matter and Mercury Emissions (included as Attachment A of the agenda report).

The Planning Committee delegated authority to the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Planning Committee, Chair of the Regulatory Committee and an Independent Māori Statutory Board member to approve the council’s submission on the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill and requested that staff forward the draft submission to the Planning Committee and Local Board chairs for high-level feedback.

The committee also support a Notice of Motion from Cr Walker seeking a joint water conservation campaign with Watercare and the development of a water climate-resilient strategy for Auckland (The strategy is being progressed by the Environment and Climate Change Committee).

Other meetings and events

In the period 21 April to 5 June I attended:

  • A virtual service observed with neighbours joining from their bubble for Stand at Dawn on Anzac Day
  • Hauraki Gulf Forum drop in with the co-chairs for forum members on 4 and 5 May and meetings with the forum’s Executive Officer in preparation for the meeting on 25 May
  • The weekly meeting with the Mayor for Chairs and Deputies of the committees
  • The LGNZ metro sector meeting on 8 May as alternate for the Mayor and the Infrastructure Commission briefing to local government representatives. I also attended the National Council board meeting on 15 May and the meeting on 5 June to meet the new CEO of LGNZ.
  • On 27 May I attended the Central Government and Local Government annual Forum hosted by the Prime Minister
  • Online Waiheke Local Board meeting on 22 April and 27 May, the Waitematā Local Board meetings on 5 and 19 May the Aotea Great Barrier Local Board meeting on 12 May
  • I was invited to speak to the National Council of Women Auckland Branch meeting on 11 May
  • High Street footpath extension. Photo credit Kent Lundberg

    The Auckland City Centre Advisory Board workshop and meeting on 27 May (High St pilot project is one of the projects supported by ACCAB in the City Centre. Attachment 1 Our Auckland More space for pedestrians on High Street)

  • Appointments and Performance Review committee CEO interviews on 18 May
  • The Governing Body and Independent Maori Statutory Board Joint meeting on 19 May
  • Finance and Performance Committee workshops regarding the Emergency Budget
  • Meetings relevant to the work programme of the Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Auckland Festival of Photography exhibition opening on 4 June at the Grey Gallery (first function in real life since Alert level 3 prior to lockdown)

Other matters

Emergency Budget 2020/2021 consultation

Auckland Council has produced an Emergency Budget to address the $525m shortfall in revenue due to Covid-19 and in so doing has to make some tough decisions about where to find significant savings and what to prioritise.

In response to a “rates freeze” campaign and many emails from constituents seeking a zero rates rise I provided the following information (prior to consultation starting on 29 May):

The draft 2020-21 annual budget that was consulted on prior to the lockdown proposed a 3.5% rates increase.  We now need a new “emergency” budget that responds to these extraordinary times.  We are in incredibly challenging times dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and there is no doubt the economic downturn is going to continue hitting hard across our businesses and communities.

At the Emergency Committee meeting on 16 April Councillors were unanimous that the council needs to take decisive steps to reduce the pressure on residents and businesses facing economic hardship, while ensuring we can protect and maintain the essential services Aucklanders rely on. There will be another round of consultation including the option of limiting any rise to 2.5%.   For the average ratepayer, a 2.5 % increase would be equivalent to an extra $1.35 per week, while a 3.5 % increase would be $1.83 per week.

The final details of the Emergency Budget 20/21 including rates will not be voted on until July.

In considering the options it is clear that cutting rates will end up costing ratepayers more and will slow down Auckland’s recovery.  It is important to note:

  • There is going to be a substantial reduction in non-rates revenue caused by the recession, some projects and services will need to be cut or postponed to reduce expenditure. Development Contributions and fees make up 53% of council’s income.  Potential reductions in cash revenue of $350-650m for 20/21 depending on the length of disruption caused by Covid-19
  • The credit rating agencies have allocated Auckland Council an AA/Aa2 rating. This enables council to borrow for capital projects at attractive interest rates, for longer time periods, and means there is no shortage of those wishing to invest. Our financial policy is to limit our debt to revenue ratio to 270%, although internally we manage to a 265% ratio to give ourselves a buffer. Lowering income could potentially put this at risk. The outcome would be higher interest rates, reduced funding abilities and shorter timelines for debt renewals. All these add up to very real costs which would be to the detriment of ratepayers, both now and well into the future. A 1% increase in rates equals $17 million in additional income. 3.5% equates to $59 million net. A 1% increase in interest rates equates to around $100 million of additional interest costs. A single notch credit rating downgrade would cost council approximately $15 million every year in additional interest costs.
  • Even at a 3.5% rates rise there will be substantial cuts to the infrastructure projects, maintenance and services provided by the Council.  This work is already underway with many temp or contracted staff having been given notice.
  • At the same time, council has already driven savings of $270 million in operational expenses. $62 million of additional savings are budgeted for this year.  All opportunities to cut spending still need to be reviewed from across the council group.
  • The CEO and senior executives have voluntarily agreed to pay cuts
  • The Emergency Committee agreed to consult on targeted measures including suspending the Accommodation Provider Targeted Rate and the broadening of council’s rates postponement policy. We also announced more help to ratepayers and business who may be struggling to pay their rates in the financial year to 30 June.

I believe we have taken a principle-based approach with a strong commitment to financial prudence and sustainability. An austerity budget based on zero rates rise will hit our most vulnerable communities hardest and limit council’s ability to play a key role in working with Government to promote economic recovery.  I think targeted assistance to ratepayers suffering financial stress is preferable.

Consultation on the Emergency Budget 20/21 budget started on 29 May for three weeks.   The consultation material provides a clear explanation of what each rating option will mean for council services and infrastructure. Please take the time to review the information and provide feedback. (Attachment 1 Emergency Budget decisions will impact Waitematā and Gulf says Councillor)

Hauraki Gulf Forum

I have been working with the Executive Officer and Tangata Whenua co-chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, Nicola MacDonald to develop a work plan and governance statement.  We hosted two co-chair drop-in sessions via Skype to provide Forum members the opportunity to give feedback ahead of the Forum meeting held on 25 May. On 14 May a media release went out about the new governance arrangements for the Forum (Attachment 3: Our Auckland: Co-Chairs to lead Hauraki Gulf Forum)

On 25 May the Hauraki Gulf Forum adopted the new work plan with an updated set of ambitious goals for the Gulf:

  • At least 30 per cent marine protection (*up from the 20 per cent goal established in 2019)
  • 1000sqkm of shellfish-bed and reef restoration
  • Riparian planting of the Gulf’s catchment (new goal)
  • An end to marine dumping in or near to the Gulf (new goal).

We also adopted (i) a new Governance Statement reflecting the Forum’s recent move to a co-governance leadership model, and (ii) a 2020-2021 budget which delivers total savings to members of around 25 per cent for the year ahead – reflecting the difficult financial situation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (Attachment 4: Our Auckland Ambitious goals for ailing Hauraki Gulf).

Hauraki Gulf Forum co-chairs

In the photo right with co-chair Nicola MacDonald wearing pake (capes) commissioned by Nicola for the co-Chairs to symbolise our enduring relationship and stewardship to protect our taonga tuku iho. These kahu korari will pass from co-Chairs to successive co-Chairs and serve to remind us of our duty to look after Te Moananui o Toi and Tikapa Moana

I am wearing a kahu korari beautifully made by master weaver Meleta Bennett, Te Arawa, named Tipaka Moana, a name gifted by the Hauraki tangata whenua members.

Nicola’s kahu korari is called Te Moananui o Toi the name was gifted by Ngāti Wai Tangata Whenua members and was woven by master weaver Maakere Taane no Ngai Tahu.

Innovating Streets

I supported Auckland Transport rolling out a set of initiatives on 20 roads and popular walkways across Auckland to assist with safe physical distancing during Covid-19 Alert Level 3 (Attachment 5: Our Auckland Improved facilities for people walking and cycling across Auckland)

These emergency measures were reviewed going into Alert Level 2. I agreed at that point with the removal of the temporary measures on Ponsonby Road because I didn’t think the scheme was strong enough to withstand a significant increase in traffic.  (photo right of the additional space on Ponsonby Road during Alert Level 3).

However, the temporary measures provided a valuable opportunity to re-image how Ponsonby Road could be made far more people friendly and has directly contributed to a Ponsonby Road pilot being included as an application in the second round of the Innovating Streets Funding considered by the Planning Committee on 3 June.

Photo credit: Kent Lundberg

The temporary works on Queen St installed for Alert Level 3  are intended to transition into an Innovating Streets pilot if the NZTA funding application is successful

An emergency budget for extraordinary times

Ponsonby News May update

We are in incredibly challenging times dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and there is no doubt the economic downturn is going to continue hitting hard across our businesses and communities. In Auckland, the worst hit industries of Accommodation and Food Services have had a 95% reduction in active employment during the lockdown. Fortunately it does increasingly look like the “go hard, go early” strategy led by the Ministry of Health is working and indications are that we will soon be moving from Alert Level 3 to Level 2.

Although there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the economic recovery we know there won’t be a return to “normal” any time soon.  The draft 2020-21 annual budget that was consulted on prior to the lockdown proposed a 3.5% rates increase.  We now need a new emergency budget that responds to these extraordinary times.

At the Emergency Committee meeting on 16 April Councillors were unanimous in council taking decisive steps to reduce the pressure on residents and businesses facing economic hardship, while ensuring we can protect and maintain the essential services Aucklanders rely on.    There will be another round of consultation including the option of limiting any rise to 2.5%.  For the average ratepayer, a 2.5 % increase would be equivalent to an extra $1.35 per week, while a 3.5 % increase would be $1.83 per week.

It is very valid to ask why a rates freeze is not on the table.  It comes down to the fact that cutting rates will potentially end up costing ratepayers more, jeopardize council services and projects at a critical time and will slow down Auckland’s recovery.

There is going to be a substantial reduction in non-rates revenue caused by the recession. Development Contributions and fees make up 53% of council’s income.  The potential loss of revenue is $350-650m for 20/21 depending on the length of disruption caused by Covid-19.

The credit rating agencies have allocated Auckland Council an AA/Aa2 rating. This enables council to borrow for capital projects at attractive interest rates, for longer time periods, and means there is no shortage of those wishing to invest. Our financial policy is to limit our debt to revenue ratio to 270%, although internally we manage to a 265% ratio to give ourselves a buffer. Lowering income could potentially put this at risk. The outcome would be higher interest rates, reduced funding abilities and shorter timelines for debt renewals. All these add up to very real costs which would be to the detriment of ratepayers, both now and well into the future. A 1% increase in rates equals $17 million in additional income. 3.5% equates to $59 million net. A 1% increase in interest rates equates to around $100 million of additional interest costs. A single notch credit rating downgrade would cost council approximately $15 million every year in additional interest costs. A $59m revenue loss of revenue also means $600m of capital investment in infrastructure that council will be unable to make over 10 years.

Even at a 3.5% rates rise there will be substantial cuts to the infrastructure projects, maintenance and services provided by the Council.  This work is already underway with many temp or contracted staff have been given notice. At the same time, council has already driven savings of $270 million in operational expenses. $62 million of additional savings are budgeted for this year.  All opportunities to cut spending still need to be reviewed from across the council family.  The CEO and senior executives have voluntarily agreed to pay cuts. 

The Emergency Committee agreed to consult on targeted measures including suspending the Accommodation Provider Targeted Rate and the broadening of council’s rates postponement policy. We also announced more help to ratepayers and business who may be struggling to pay their rates in the financial year to 30 June – anyone who is facing difficulty can contact council on 09 3010101.

I believe we have taken a principled based approach with a strong commitment to financial prudence and sustainability. An austerity budget based on a zero rates rise will hit our most vulnerable communities hardest and limit council’s ability to play a key role in working with Government to promote economic recovery.   I think targeted assistance to ratepayers suffering financial stress makes more sense.

Consultation on the Emergency Budget 20/21 budget is due to start by the end of May for three weeks. The consultation material will provide a clear explanation of what each rating option will mean for council services and infrastructure. Please take the time to review the options and provide feedback.

Published in Ponsonby News on 6 May 2020

Further reading

Councillor Report April 2020

This is an extraordinary Councillor report covering the period from 13 March 2020 until 20 April.  It is prepared for the Waitematā Local Board business meeting to be held on 5 May.

The purpose of my report is to provide an update on the key governing body decisions as the Covid-19 crisis escalated and during the lockdown as well as my focus during this time as Councillor.

Auckland Council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis

Following the WHO declaration of an official pandemic on 11 March the first indication of the seriousness of the situation was the need to cancel the Pasifika Festival on 13 March due to concerns about the risk of the virus spreading into the Pacific. As more cases were confirmed Auckland Council closed pools, libraries, galleries and other community facilities on 20 March.  The next day the Government introduced a four-level alert system to help combat Covid-19. The Prime Minister announced New Zealand would go to Alert Level 4 at 23.59 on 25 March 2020. A state of emergency was declared putting the country into lock-down for a minimum of four weeks.   People were told to stay home to save lives and only go out for essential work, supplies and local recreation.

It is an unprecedented situation that is evolving every day as we get to grips with the new “normal”. First and foremost, Council is taking the advice of the Ministry of Health, which is leading New Zealand’s Covid-19 response.

Essential Council services continue including storm water infrastructure repair and maintenance and water treatment, animal welfare management, biosecurity and hazard monitoring., Auckland’s kerbside rubbish and recycling are considered essential services and will continue as usual. Unfortunately, there is currently no market for recycled paper so temporarily it will be going to landfill (paper and cardboard can still go out in the recycling bin). The inorganic collection has been postponed.

Over 300 Council facilities have closed including recreation centres, pools, community centres. Parks and reserves remain open for local recreation but playgrounds and recreational facilities in parks are closed. Most public toilets are closed although some remain open for essential workers and rough sleepers.

Auckland Libraries e-lending services like audiobooks, video streaming services and learning databases like Lynda.com continue to be available for free and have been extended. Library fines for overdue books have been suspended and gym memberships are on hold.

Road maintenance undertaken by Auckland Transport is considered an essential service so continues during the lockdown. However, this is being limited to only that maintenance required to keep the network safe and operational during this period.

Council staff have been deployed to help Aucklanders experiencing hardship as a result of the lockdown. Deliveries of essential supplies including food and toiletries began on 1 April via an 0800 22 22 96 phone number provided for those needing assistance with accessing essential supplies (the service also covers Aotea Great Barrier and Waiheke islands).

Auckland Council and homeless agencies have been working together to ensure there is accommodation, food and essential support available for rough sleepers.

The Our Auckland website was transformed quickly to provide a one stop shop for all Auckland Council related Covid-19 information.  Just before the Easter break a further plea was made to boaties to not visit the islands against level 4 lockdown rules. While New Zealand Police and other agencies have reminded boaties to stay off the water during the lockdown, unfortunately some have still been visiting Aotea Great Barrier.

Local board chairs supported by local board members have been on the front line dealing directly with a range of challenging issues in their communities especially at the outset of the lockdown.  I have been in regular communication with chairs in my ward and available to follow up on issues as requested.

An emergency management fund established on 24 March was accessed quickly to guarantee one flight per day to Aotea Great Barrier to ensure essential services, products and workers continue to be available to all residents.  A service for essential supplies was also put in place for Rakino Island.

Work is underway to identify potential cuts to expenditure required due to the substantial reduction in non-rates revenue caused by the recession. Steps have already been taken to reduce spending on external contracts and contract staff in non-essential services, as part of plans to manage the financial impact of COVID-19 (Refer Attachment 1 regarding the Annual Budget 20/21).

On 17 April the chief executives of council and its five council-controlled organisations announced they will take a pay cut of 20 per cent for the next six months.  In addition, board chairs, directors and senior executives have volunteered a range of reductions.

Regular Covid-19 briefings for councillors have been held since 18 March.   At the time of writing the Prime Minister has announced that Alert Level 4 has been extended until 11.59pm on Monday 27 April. Council’s focus over the next week will be to work through what moving to Alert Level 3 means for the organisation and the additional services it will be able to provide. Planning for the post Covid-19 recovery is also underway.

Governing Body meetings

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website here.

On 19 March the Finance and Performance Committee meeting received the Auckland Council Group and Auckland Council quarterly performance report for the period ended 31 December 2019;  a Financial update on current status due to Covid-19 as an extraordinary item, and a presentation from the  Eden Park Trust Board noting the uncertainty of future financial projections due to Covid-19. (this was the last meeting with all members in attendance at the Town Hall prior to lockdown)

 On 24 March, an extraordinary meeting of the Governing Body met to discuss Governing Body decision-making continuity during the COVID-19 response period. It was agreed unanimously that members could attend any meetings of the Governing Body or it’s committees by audio or audiovisual link, and be counted as present, during the COVID-19 response period.

A temporary Emergency Committee of the whole of Governing Body was established with a quorum of 2, with others participating via audio link, which meets weekly and includes 2 members of IMSB.  All functions and powers of the Governing Body have been delegated to this committee other than those in Audit and Risk.

We also agreed to establish a COVID-19 contingency fund of $22.5 million for any urgent expenditure required to respond to the pandemic or its impacts.

Following this meeting Governing Body members had to quickly adapt to skyping into meetings, and although there have been a few teething issues, in general the process is working well to maintain good governance.

 On 26 March Governing Body met and endorsed the proposed membership for the Heritage Advisory Panel and the updated terms of reference. 3 items were deferred, being Referred from the Audit and Risk Committee – Health, Safety and Wellbeing Update – emerging risks and issues, Summary of Governing Body information memoranda and briefings (including the Forward Work Programme) – 26 March 2020 and Review of remuneration of independent members of the Audit and Risk Committee which included a report in the confidential section.

On 2 April the Emergency Committee met with all members attending via electronic link.  The meeting considered 2 items of extraordinary business.  The meeting delegated all emergency powers and roles to the Group Controller and ratified all decisions made by the controller since declaration of a state of emergency.  We were also provided with a report on activities undertaken by council to support the wider community in response to Covid-19.  A verbal update was provided on the Summary of Infrastructure criteria for “shovel ready” projects announced by Government.  Reappointment of board members to City Rail Link Ltd and Haumaru Housing was considered in the confidential section.

On 9 April the Emergency Committee received a written and verbal briefing from Ian Maxwell, Director Executive Programmes and Kate Crawford, Group Controller, Auckland Emergency Management.  We unanimously approved Auckland Council’s list of ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects and programmes to be submitted to Crown Infrastructure Partners Ltd and delegated the final priorisation of 20 projects to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, IMSB Chair and four Councillors.  (the final list of 73 ‘shovel-ready’ projects submitted to CIP was announced on 14 April)

We also discussed the Healthy Waters southern and regional maintenance contracts in the confidential section

 On 14 April an Extraordinary Audit and Risk Committee met via electronic link.  Members were briefed on the COVID-19 pandemic and Auckland Emergency Management status and received two confidential updates on the approach to risk management and assurance activities, and the approach to identify and manager financial risks.

On 16 April the Emergency Committee received a verbal briefing from Ian Maxwell, Director Executive Programmes and Mace Ward, Group Controller, Auckland Emergency Management. Representatives from the Taxpayers Union and the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance presented in public forum.  Cr Darby introduced an extraordinary item regarding Auckland International Airport share purchase plan.  Members agreed 18-5 to seek a report looking at improving the council’s oversight of the airport company, including whether as the biggest shareholder, it should seek to appoint a director.

Auckland Council’s submission on the Accessible Streets Regulatory Package was approved.

The confidential part of the meeting covered council’s Financial position and Annual Budget 2020/2021 Update.  Councillors were unanimous that the council needs to take decisive steps to reduce the pressure on residents and businesses facing economic hardship, while ensuring we can protect and maintain the essential services Aucklanders rely on.    It was agreed that another round of consultation including the option of limiting any rates rise to 2.5%. (Our Auckland:  Councillors agree rates support for Aucklanders)

Other meetings and events

As NZ moved to Alert level 2, I stopped attending events and meetings in person from 20 March. In the days prior to that I attended the Waitematā Local Board monthly business meeting and CCO Oversight Committee workshop with Auckland Transport on 17 March. The CCO update on Covid-19; Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee workshop on the proposed Burial and Cremation Act 1964 submission and the Planning Committee Briefing: Supporting Growth Alliance – on transport network proposals in greenfield areas on 18 March.

On 17 March I also spoke at the EV’s and Beyond Conference held on Waiheke in relation to Auckland’s commitment to the Climate Change Emergency.

I was interviewed by BfM on 19 March and 20 April for an item called “City Counselling” covering council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Annual Budget, tactical urbanism and the Auckland Climate Action Plan work underway.

LGNZ’s National Council meeting in Wellington on 20 March was held via Zoom.  It was agreed to postpone the annual conference until 2021.

The weekly meeting with the Mayor for Chairs and Deputies of the committees of the whole has continued via Skype.  A fortnightly Auckland Transport catch up on ward issues has also continued during the lockdown.

Other matters

I worked with Cr Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee to seek the inclusion of a climate lens and other Auckland focused criteria to the prioritisation process for the “shovel ready” programme considered at the Emergency Committee meeting on 9 April  (letter attached here) .  I also submitted a spreadsheet of shovel ready projects for consideration which included local board projects in my ward.

The work of the Environment and Climate Change Committee has continued with briefings and catch-ups via skype.  The covid-19 crisis has had an impact on the timeline for Auckland’s Climate Action Plan but the current aim is bring the final plan to a committee meeting in July.

I have been working with the Executive Officer and Tangata Whenua co-chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum to create a draft work plan for consultation with forum members ahead of the Forum meeting planned for 25 May.  We also wrote to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, Crown Infrastructure Partners regarding the shovel-ready projects and the Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi.

I provided feedback on Auckland Council’s submission on the Accessible Streets Regulatory package that went to the Emergency Committee meeting on 16 April. I am working with Cr Darby on progressing council and Auckland Transport’s response to NZTA’s Innovating Streets for People initiative and funding.  The programme supports measures that can quickly increase the amount of space available for physical distancing (photo right showing the use of “tactical urbanism” to create a cyclelane). I am also supporting Auckland Transport’s work to identify locations where measures can be put in place immediately to create more space for walking and cycling.

I think leadership on a pay cut is important when there is no doubt the economic downturn is going to hit hard across our businesses and communities. It is about acknowledging the pain and showing solidarity with those on the frontline of the crisis.   As the current legislation doesn’t allow for any Councillor pay cut to go back into the Council’s budget I will be donating an amount to charity in line with the pay cuts announced by the Mayor, other councillors and the executive leadership.  However, as I don’t believe any pressure should be put on low paid members or workers to take a cut I will keep my donations private.

I continue to be contacted by members of the public seeking reassurance and answers to a wide range of issues.

Report to the Waiheke Local Board meeting on 22 April is available here

Report to the Aotea Great Barrier Local Board meeting on 12 May is available here

Be kind, stay home, save lives: Auckland Council responds to the COVID-19 crisis

There is no rule book for responding to the COVID-19 crisis. It is an unprecedented situation that is evolving every day. First and foremost, Council is taking the advice of the Ministry of Health, which is leading New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.

At the time of writing we have moved quickly from Alert Level 2 into Alert Level 4 and a State of Emergency has been declared. Lockdown has been put in place and we are getting to grips with the unknown new “normal.” Everyone has to do their part to save lives.

Essential Council services continue including storm water infrastructure repair and maintenance and water treatment, animal welfare management, biosecurity and hazard monitoring. As of 24 March 2020, Auckland’s kerbside rubbish and recycling are considered essential services and will continue as usual. The inorganic collection has been postponed. Wet wipes and other hygiene products, should be bagged and placed in rubbish bins never down the toilet. Over 300 Council facilities have closed including recreation centres, pools, community centres.

Auckland Libraries e-lending services like audiobooks, video streaming services and learning databases like Lynda.com continue to be available for free and will be extended. Library fines for overdue books have been suspended and gym memberships are on hold. Our parks and reserves are always open for recreation, but be mindful to keep physical distances. Please keep children off equipment as playgrounds are closed. More COVID-19 information can be found on the front page of the Auckland Council website.

Road maintenance undertaken by Auckland Transport is considered an essential service so will continue during the lockdown. However, this is being limited to only that maintenance required to keep the network safe and operational during this period.

It’s important our communities come together to support each other. I really appreciate one of my neighbours taking the initiative to ensure we all have each other’s contact information so she was able to set up a street WhatsApp chat group. As the homeless and other vulnerable groups will be particularly impacted, homeless agencies are working very closely with Council on ensure accommodation is provided with showers, food, and other amenities available in ways that manage the risk.

Auckland Council has unanimously approved emergency measures to ensure effective governance of the city while it is in lockdown. A temporary ‘supercommittee’ has been established made up of the whole Governing Body to assume the functions and power of all committees except for the Audit and Risk Committee. Meetings will occur weekly by audio-visual link. We also agreed to establish a COVID-19 contingency fund of $22.5 million for any urgent expenditure required to respond to the pandemic or its impacts.

The number one priority at the moment is public health. In the next month or so we’ll have a better idea of the impact on Council finances, what additional support can be provided and ability to deliver projects that are in the pipeline as we move to finalise the Annual Budget 20/21 by 1 July.

I’m working from home and can be contacted at pippa.coom@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or on 021 926 618.

COVID-19 official website

Auckland Council COVID-19 information

 

Councillor Report March 2020

General update

  • My Councillor report, covering the period from 31 January until 29 February 2020, is prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ March business meeting agendas.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.

Governing Body and Committee meetings*

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website here.

Planning Committee on 4 February 2020

  • Approved Auckland Council’s submission on the Land Transport (Rail) legislation bill
  • Approved approach to the Auckland Council’s submission on the Urban Development Bill

Governing Body on 12 and 27 February 2020

  • Adopted the Draft Tūpuna Maunga Operational Plan 2020/2021
  • Adopted the consultation material and supporting documentation for Annual Budget 2020/2021
  • Adopted the amendments to the Revenue and Financing Policy
  • Approved the draft submission to the Justice Committee’s inquiry into the 2019 Local Elections and Liquor Licensing Trust Elections, and Recent Energy Trust Elections
  • Approved the submission on funding options for Fire and Emergency New Zealand

CCO Oversight Committee on 18 February

Received the updated report on the CCO Review work programme and requested the report be circulated to local boards

Auckland Domain Committee on 25 February

  • Requested staff explore costs and possible funding to implement recommendations in the master plan
  • Requested staff investigate options to meet the shortfall for the Accessible Improvement Programme (aiming to improve walking and cycling in the Domain)

*Note: This is not intended to be a complete summary of all governing body and committee meetings. Refer Auckland Council’s website for full details

Hauraki Gulf Forum

  •  The Hauraki Gulf Forum is a statutory body, which promotes and facilitates integrated management and the protection and enhancement of the Hauraki Gulf, under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000.
  • Hauraki Gulf Forum members are representatives of the Ministers of Conservation, Fisheries and Māori Development, elected representatives of Auckland Council (7 in total including representatives from Waiheke Local Board and Aotea Great Barrier), Waikato Regional Council, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Councils and 6 representatives of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf and its islands appointed by the Minister of Conservation.
  • At the first Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting of the term on 17 February the historic decision was made to adopt a co-governance model with co-chairs (one elected by all forum members and one co-chair recommended by the tangata whenua representatives). I was delighted to be elected one of the co-chairs.
  • The ‘State of our Gulf 2020’ report released on 27 February by the Hauraki Gulf Forum puts a spotlight on the ongoing environmental degradation facing the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. (Attachment 1: Media Release from the Hauraki Gulf Forum: The Hauraki Gulf is hurting and needs our help)

Events and other meetings

  • Attended a range of meetings with the Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair in my role as Deputy Chair
  • First Mayor and Councillors catch up of the year held on 3 February

    I attend a weekly chairs’ catch up with the Mayor and a fortnightly Mayor and Councillors catch up

  • I have a fortnightly meeting for transport updates relating to ward issues
  • Attended the LGNZ National Council meeting on 10 February and the Metro Sector meeting (as alternate to the Mayor) on 14 February
  • Attended the Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 18 February to give my Councillor’s update
  • Met with the Chair of the Environment and Climate Change committee to finalise the Council’s submission on the Reducing waste: A more effective landfill levy paper
  • On Friday 21 February I hosted a Councillor “clinic” on Waiheke with booked appointment times including meeting Cycle Action Waiheke (photo below), caught up with the Waiheke Community Art Gallery Director, enjoyed a delicious Kai Conscious Cafe lunch, got taken on a site visit to the WWII lookout and historic buildings, popped by the Whitaker’s music museum (gate crashed MP Nikki Kaye’s meeting!) and wrapped up the day meeting local board chair Cath Handley.
  • The Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting on 26 February confirmed Heart of the City’s CEO Viv Beck as chair
  • Met with the CCO Review panel on 28 February
  • Throughout the month I meet constituents on request and request a range of meetings to follow up on issues raised with me.

I also attended the following events:

  • Official Opening on 4 February of Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau and Whau Cafe on Maungawhau / Mount Eden hosted by the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority (photo right with Councillors Bartley, Filipaina and Casey and members of the Authority)
  • Waitangi Day ki Ōkahu 2020 festival hosted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
  • Farewell reception for Stephen Jacobi from New Zealand China Council at the Northern Club on 10 February
  • Scales to Tails dinner hosted by Peter Gordon at the invite of The Sugar Club and Ōra King
  • Whales Tales Auckland 2021 launch at the Auckland Art Gallery on 11 February
  • Wynyard Quarter Celebration hosted by Willis Bond & Co on 12 February
  • Opening by the PM on 13 February of Te Whare Hīnātore, City Mission’s new transitional housing programme, assisting wāhine experiencing homelessness
  • Minister of Transport Phil Twyford, the Mayor and elected representatives

    Sod turning for the portal where the boring machine will launch to build the City Rail Link tunnels connecting Mt Eden Station to the new Aotea Station (photo right)

  • Opening night of Roger Hall’s play Winding Up at the invitation of Auckland Theatre Company on 13 February
  • Sod turning for the start of the Tamaki Drive cycleway on 16 February (photo right the Mayor and Minister of Transport Phil Twyford with the spades)
  • Waitematā Local Board’s Myers Park Medley festival on 16 February
  • Opening of the Auckland Fringe Festival 2020 on 17 February at Caluzzi Cabaret
  • Launch by the Mayor of City Hop’s EV vehicles at the Crowne Plaza on 20 February
  • Auckland Museum Medals on 26 February
  • Media briefing for the release of the State of the Gulf report by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage MP and two of the authors. The report is a major piece of work led by the former Hauraki Gulf Chair John Meeuwsen and Deputy Chair Moana Tamaariki-Pohe.
  • Participated on the panel of the Auckland Conversations “Gift of the Gulf” at the RNZYC on 27 February (photo right)
  • A walk of the Waitematā Local Board boundary on 29 February with Living Streets Aotearoa’s Andy Smith, continuing the tradition of starting the new term with Beating the Bounds – a walk of the boundary to ensure neighbouring local boards haven’t “encroached” over the last three years and to check out projects along the way. I walked with local board members until the point on Newton Road (photo right) where my ward boundary diverges and then walking the shared Ōrākei boundary with Cr Desley Simpson to Tamaki Drive
  • Ponsonby Road Street Festival on 29 February
  • Mayor Phil Goff, Sir Bob Harvey, Covert Theatre Trustee Mike Hutchinson and founder Wade Jackson at the opening of Covert Theatre, Ponsonby

    Opening Covert Theatre at the invitation of The Yes and Trust

Regional grants

The Regional Event Fund and the Regional Community Development Grants were allocated at the Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee on 13 February.

Regional consultation topics

  • The Annual Budget 2020/21 consultation started on 21 February and will continue until 22 March. Have your save events are being held across the region.
  • The independent panel appointed to review how well Auckland Council’s CCOs are working is hosting drop-in sessions across the region so Aucklanders can provide their feedback into the review. Consultation on the review closes on 22 March.
  • The engagement and consultation documents are available at akhaveyoursay.

Significant issues and ward issues (as at 29 February)

Leys Institute Library Building

  • In response to a planned “save the Leys Institute building” protest on 26 February I provided this update:

I appreciate the considerable concerns regarding the sudden closure of the much-loved Leys Institute buildings and the desire to see the restoration happen as fast as possible and library services resumed.

I am not able to attend the protest but want to provide a reassurance that I am not aware of any part of council that considers demolition to be a viable or desirable option for a class A scheduled building (even if it were possible under the Leys bequest) .

The report on the options will be going to the local board in June.  I am absolutely committed to the restoration of the building and the return of library services (temporary services are due to open in mid-March at 14 Jervois Road).  My role is to work with the local board to ensure the project secures what is likely to be a considerable budge, from the governing body (Councillors and Mayor).

On-going water issues during the dry weather

  • The lack of rainfall over summer has been particularly hard for Aucklanders on tank water. Updates have been provided regularly on the support available during the dry weather.
  • Watercare is monitoring water levels and reports that, with nearly 65 per cent storage in its dams, the municipal water supply is stable. It is running a campaign to remind customers to be waterwise during dry periods when demand is high.
  • An advice brochure for tank owners is being distributed via council’s community networks and is available to download from OurAuckland.

 COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

The Mayor has been in regular contact with the Director General of Health and is providing regular updates. Since the first case arrived in New Zealand the main message is that Aucklanders should be prepared but should not panic – they should take sensible measures and contact health officials if they are worried:

    • There is no reason for people to change the way they go about their daily lives
    • The first case is being well managed, and the patient is in a stable condition
    • Ministry of Health and the airport are moving to meet everyone coming off flights to give people information on what to do should they feel unwell

Transport

Together with the Local Board transport portfolio lead Graeme Gunthorp I have been following up on a number of transport issues that I would like to see Auckland Transport resolve including:

  • Car transporters unloading illegally on Great North Road
  • Enforcement of car parking on berms and on footpaths. I dispute AT’s position on this issue and do not agree that signage is required before AT can take enforcement action.
  • East bound bus lanes on Customs Street that are needed as a result of the ongoing closure of Lower Albert Street.

The positive resolution by Auckland Transport of issues I have raised on behalf of constituents includes:

  • confirmation that traffic calming on Clifton Road is going ahead as part of the Herne Bay walking and cycling project
  • the installation of new safety barriers on the Westerns Springs Shared path (photo right)

Media

  • I was quoted in the Hauraki Gulf Forum media release: The Hauraki Gulf is hurting and needs our help
  • My regular Ponsonby News column was published in the March edition
  • I wrote an OpEd for the NZ Herald about the positive side of seeing so many orange road cones in Auckland. Humble orange cone means the future is coming  (Our Auckland version)

Disclosures

There are no gift disclosures this month.  Invitations to events are all noted above.

 

Orange road cones show Auckland is getting stuff done

OPINION  first published in the Herald NZ on 26 February (premium content) with the heading:  Humble orange cone means the future is coming

Quietly, over the past six years, Willis Bond & Co has been building a new neighbourhood of award-winning apartments at Wynyard Quarter. Private investment has followed the public spend to create people-orientated spaces designed for modern urban living. This “placemaking” includes wide footpaths, new plazas and parks, rain gardens, activated event spaces and lush ngahere.

I was fortunate to attend a recent celebration hosted by managing director Mark McGuiness to welcome the new residents and thank those involved in the development. Inevitably, the conversation turned to Auckland’s prolific orange road cones.

Orange cones have become a convenient focus of rage for some commentators in Auckland.

In McGuiness’ view the cones are a positive symbol that the city is getting stuff done. They show progress is underway, and the city is improving after decades of under-investment, poor planning and short-sighted decision-making.

I think of it as Auckland moving from a town with a cowboy mentality focused on short-term gains, to Tāmaki Makaurau, a truly international city with a uniquely indigenous point of difference.

Auckland Council is making progress on the things that matter for our city. We’re working to stop poo from entering our harbour and we’re getting on with essential work such as improving our ferry infrastructure and ensuring the Quay St sea wall doesn’t collapse.

We’re delivering new public spaces and creating the right conditions for new residential, retail and office investment. I don’t think it makes sense for any of this construction to be slowed down or stopped.

New Ferry Basin public space “Te Wananga” due for completion in December 2020

When the cones are removed from Quay St a stunning street will be revealed; one that will never go back to a four-lane road. Just as other international cities have embraced their waterfront, Quay St, together with a new downtown square, will be our welcome mat for international events happening in 2021. Slow speed, pedestrian-focused environments will become the new normal in our city centre.

It is time for Aucklanders to move on from the myths that “public transport is rubbish” and “no one uses cycle lanes”. All the evidence (that could fill a separate column) points to the opposite.

We are no different to people in other international cities. We embrace the most convenient, reliable and affordable transport option. We jump on bikes when we feel safe. We shop, relax, linger and spend in inviting places where people – not cars – are king.

Wynyard Quarter was the “guinea pig” for perfecting placemaking in Auckland, but this best-practice approach is now spreading benefits across the city.

It is also time to drop “CBD” and instead refer to it as the city centre as it has a growing residential population, with more than 33,000 people already calling it home.

The work symbolised by the humble orange cone work will benefit not just the residents I represent, but all Aucklanders, because a functioning, thriving city centre is good news for our region and our country.

Our city centre generates a fifth of Auckland’s GDP and more than 130,000 people work there.

Our biggest infrastructure project, City Rail Link, will double the number of people who live within 30 minutes of the city centre when it opens in 2024.

Along with our construction partners, we have to do more as a council to share the vision of what is happening in the city centre so Aucklanders can see the wider benefits. We need to ensure traffic management is exemplary, projects are coordinated and efficiently managed, and that businesses and residents are looked after through the construction. We must help all those who need to travel into the city regardless of transport mode.

Collectively as Aucklanders, we’ve got to put the orange cone “chaos” into perspective. When I recently missed an early morning flight it wasn’t cycleway construction that delayed me getting to the airport. It was the traffic I created, other traffic on the road, and a minor crash. These types of delays are so commonplace Aucklanders consider this a “normal” inconvenience.

I agree with McGuiness that we shouldn’t turn orange road cones into the enemy. When the first stage of Wynyard Quarter opened in August 2011, Aucklanders were amazed at the welcoming transformation and flocked to the waterfront. As parts of downtown are completed and pedestrians are welcomed back, I have no doubt that we’ll get the same reaction.

Delivering people-friendly, safe and vibrant environments continues not just in downtown but across the city. We can all feel proud at the stuff that is getting done. The future is in progress.

• Pippa Coom is an Auckland Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf Ward.

Councillor Report February 2020

General update
  • This is my first Councillor report for 2020 prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ February business meeting agendas.
  • It covers the period from 25 November 2019 until 31 January including the summer break.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.
Governing Body and Committee meetings*

Governing Body committee met on 26 November and 12 December (photo right of Councillors at the Aotea Square Christmas tree on our way to the final business meeting of the year at the Town Hall). Highlights include:

  • agreed the terms of reference for the Council Controlled Organisations Review
  • approved allocation of the Auckland Council governance remuneration pool
  • approved terms of reference for the Joint Governance Working Party and Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Working Party
  • adopted the GB meeting schedule from 2020 -2022
  • agreed process for appointing the next Auckland Council CEO (appointment to be made by end of 2020)
  • Unanimous support for an extraordinary item regarding the bus drivers dispute (reported on below)

The first Environment and Climate Change committee met on 29 November

  • approved the grant allocations for the 2019/2020 Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant programme funding round
  • allocations for the 2019/2020 Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund, September 2019 funding were considered in confidential

The first Council Controlled Organisation Oversight Committee met on 12 December to receive the first quarter reports of the substantive council-controlled organisations and approve the proposed content for inclusion in their 2020/21 letters of expectation.

A minute’s silence was observed at the beginning of our Finance and Performance Committee led by Cr Desley Simpson on 10 December to pay tribute to all those affected by the awful tragedy on Whakaari /White Island.

*Note: This is not intended to be a complete summary of all governing body and committee meetings. Refer https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/ for full details

Events and other meetings
  • A range of briefings have continued for the Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair and Deputy Chair
  • In my role as committee Deputy Chair I attend a weekly chairs catch up with the Mayor and a fortnightly Mayor and Councillors catch up
  • I have a fortnightly meeting for transport updates relating to ward issues
  • On Friday 29 November I hosted my first Councillor “clinic” on Aotea Great Barrier with booked appointments times
  • Meeting on 6 December with councillors Barley and Casey and First Union to discuss the bus drivers dispute.
  • MUNZ meeting on 9 December with the automation working group of the International Transport Workers Federation
  • Cr Hills and I met with Milag San Jose-Ballesteros, Regional Director For Southeast Asia And Oceania, C40 to discuss climate change action on 21 January. C40 Cities is an organisation working with 96 City Councils across the world to work on positive opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and protect our communities.
  • Meeting on 22 January convened by the Mayor regarding Fuller Ferry cancellations (reported on below)
  • City Centre network meeting at the Ellen Melville Centre on 23 January
  • Tour of Aotea Great Barrier (north part of island) with the local board on 27 January (photos right)
  • Waiheke Local Board business meeting on 28 January
  • Environment and Climate Change Committee: Political Working Group meetings to finalise Council’s submission on the Reducing waste: A more effective landfill levy paper

I also attended the following events:

  • Vision Zero celebration at Auckland Transport on 25 November
  • 100 years of Zonta International celebration dinner on 25 November hosted by the Zonta Club of Auckland at the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron. Zonta’s mission is empowering powering women through service and advocacy.
  • Friends of Sustainable Coastlines celebration on 27 November
  • Museum Board Chair Orchid Atimalala, Deputy Chair Tarun Kanji and Director Finance Jignasha Patel

    Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum 90th birthday celebrations on 27 November.

  • Ceremony for the 40th anniversary of the Erebus accident at Government House hosted by the Governor General where the PM and the Chair of Air NZ gave a wholehearted apology to the families for the actions of the government and airline following the disaster that claimed 247 lives. I’m sure that nothing can fully heal the loss from the tragedy for the families and those impacted by Operation Overdue but this apology is long overdue. I hope now we can also move ahead on a fitting Erebus Memorial.
  • NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards gala dinner on 28 November at the invitation of Waste Solutions. Auckland Council, TROW and Green Way won the Partnering for Good category for the demolition of the Masonic Lodge in Salisbury Reserve (a project initiated by the Waitematā Local Board)
  • Met with the Inspirasi Indonesian Young Leaders delegation (photo right with Cr Hills and Laila Harre) and spoke on the topic of the Role of Local Government and how to engage communities to be sustainably resilient
  • Visited Great Barrier on 29 November to hold a Councillor clinic to meet locals, did an interview with Aotea FM (photo right with Toni and Tony from Aotea FM) and meet with local board members
  • Raise up Leadership grad dinner at Eden Park on 30 November at the invitation of YMCA
  • Hyundai World Championships powhiri and opening ceremony on 1 December
  • Franklin Road lights opening on 1 December (photo right with local board member Graeme Gunthorp)
  • Grey Lynn Residents Association AGM at the Grey Lynn RSC
  • Farewell for Marguerite Delbet as Council’s General Manager, Democracy Services after six plus years at the helm
  • Auckland Art Gallery’s 2020 programme launch on 3 December
  • Whakawātea for Luna Rossa / Prada bases, America’s Cup on 4 December (photo right)
  • Women in Leadership afternoon tea hosted by the Mayor’s office
  • LGNZ strategy day in Wellington on 5 December
  • LGNZ National Council meeting on 6 December
  • The official party for the citizenship ceremony L-R Deputy Chair Waiheke Local Board Bob Upchurch, Kaumatua Bob Hawke, Kaumatua Alec Hawke, Richard NortheyChair Waitematā Local Board, and new citizen Kiri McCutcheon who works at Auckland Council

    Citizenship ceremony at the Auckland Town hall on 9 December

  • Ports of Auckland community liaison group Christmas drinks on 10 December
  • Morning blessing on 17 December led by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for the start of the St Mary’s Bay water project that will dramatically reduce contamination going into the Harbour (photo right). This significant project is funded from the water quality targeted rate and delivered by Watercare and Healthy Waters (Auckland Council) with Auckland Transport improvements included as well
  • End of year afternoon tea hosted by the Mayor on 17 December
  • Late Night Christmas event organised by Heart of the City on 19 December
  • Community celebration lunch at Ellen Melville Centre on 20 December
  • Waiheke Ostend Market zero waste stall volunteer on 21 December and 17 January (photo right)
  • I took a Christmas break from 20 December until 13 January
  • I joined the Mayor and Panuku on
    Tour of Wynyard Quarter Developments with Mayor Goff

    15 January for a tour of Auckland’s Waterfront Precinct and Wynyard Quarter as well as a look at the new Willis Bond apartment development on Madden Street, the Park Hyatt Auckland site (photo right in hard hats) and a visit to Emirates Team New Zealand.

  • Enjoyed a session at the ASB Classic tennis at the invitation of ATEED and a chance to meet the tournament director Karl Budge
  • Urban Nerds AKL – special guest appearance by Greg Vann on 23 January
  • Moira Lawler’s farewell as CEO of Lifewise held at Merge Café on 23 January
  • Supported the Mayor at the SeePort festival opening on 25 January
  • International Buskers Day Festival opening on 25 January at the invitation of Crackerjack productions
  • On behalf of the Mayor addressed the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day event hosted by the Holocaust Centre of NZ at the Mt Eden Memorial Hall (Photo right and speech Attachment 1)
  • State of the Nation presentation with the PM and lunch on 30 January at Sky City Convention Centre at the invitation of Business NZ
Regional consultation topics

In December the Mayor’s proposal for the Annual Budget 2020/21 was agreed to go out for consultation on 21 February.  The proposal is about showing leadership on climate change as well as continuing to invest strongly in infrastructure and services, and readying Auckland for the international spotlight in 2021, when the city hosts the 36th America’s Cup, APEC, Te Matatini and a range of other events.  I have reported on the main topics in my Ponsonby News column.

Regional grants

The Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant Fund and Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund applications were agreed by the Environment and Climate Change committee on 29 November.

Significant issues and ward issues  (as at 31 January)

New Network bus changes on Waiheke

Following the report that Hana Blackmore prepared for the local board highlighting deficiencies in Auckland Transport’s consultation and presentation of a petition, Auckland Transport agreed to put in place a temporary diversion for every second 50A bus service to loop through Ostend / Wharf Rd.  The use of services on these roads will then be assessed around March when AT undertakes the review of the New Network.

AT also reported that the New Network has significantly grown compared to the old network over the first eight weeks of operation – in average by +5% and more recently by up to +30% for individual weeks.  More people are using buses on Waiheke now than before. However, issues remain with a bus driver shortage.  I am also aware of continued concerns regarding the location of bus stops.

Leys Institute Library Building

Just before Christmas an operational decision was made to close Leys Institute Library and Gymnasium until further notice. A recently completed seismic assessment has found structural issues that make the buildings unsafe to occupy in the unlikely event of an earthquake.

This caused a lot of concern raised directly with me about the future of the buildings and the continuation of library services.  The local board has ensured that services will resume from March at 14 Jervois Road for at least the next three years and that the jobs of all library staff are safe.  In the meantime, the mobile library has been parking outside Leys Institute until the end of January

A report on the options for restoring the buildings will be going to the local board.

 Bus drivers dispute

 The bus driver dispute ended before Christmas following Auckland Council unanimously requesting Auckland Transport to work on finding a solution and signalled the need to find a long-term sustainable way forward to the poor pay and conditions. It was important to take a stand together as Auckland needs professional bus drivers who are well trained and can earn a living. Here is the resolution in full from the 12 December Governing Body meeting:

a) note with concern the industrial dispute affecting bus services and its impact on commuters, bus drivers and their families and potentially undermining a shift to use of public transport

b) request Auckland Transport to work with NZ Bus and the relevant unions to find a solution to end the current dispute

c) request Auckland Transport and the Chief Executive of Auckland Council to work on sustainable long-term solutions

d) request the Mayor to write to the Ministry of Transport on behalf of Council seeking urgency to be accorded to the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) Review to ensure that problems of recruitment and retention of bus drivers are addressed and a fair and equitable resolution is reached around drivers wages and working condition

Waiheke Ferry cancellations

On 22 January Mayor Phil Goff convened a meeting of Fullers, the Harbourmaster, Auckland Transport, the Ports of Auckland and elected representatives including Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of the Waiheke Local Board, Cath Handley and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye and myself. After the meeting the Mayor released the following statement.

“I made clear my expectations that recent ferry cancellations were unacceptable, and the causes had to be addressed collaboratively by the parties directly involved. The inconvenience caused to Aucklanders is not acceptable. I also made clear my expectations that I want to see this issue resolved as soon as possible,” Phil Goff said.

“The discussions were positive, and progress was made. I have asked for a working party to be convened urgently, chaired by the Harbourmaster, and involving Fullers, Auckland Transport, Ports of Auckland and the cruise ship industry.

“I have asked the group to address the following issues relevant to the cancellations:

  • whether the restrictions on cruise liner berthing currently from 7.30am to 9am can and should be extended
  • what the appropriate safety parameters are for ferries when cruise liners are berthing
  • the need for a better communication mechanism between the relevant parties.

“I have asked the working group to report back on these matters to elected representatives as soon as possible.”

Media

Conferences and seminars

Te kāwana ngātahi i a Tāmaki Makaurau ‘Governing Auckland together’ symposium was held for all elected members on 2 December.  The programme included:

  • Deputy Mayor gave the opening address on behalf of the Mayor
  • Chief Executive, Stephen Town address
  • Strategic briefing – overview of key strategic issues for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
  • No point wasting a good crisis’ – an interactive future-focused session, looking at era scale change and connecting the future to actions in the present. This will be led by Dr Stephanie Pride
  • Closing remarks by board Chair Leumaunga Lydia Sosene
Disclosures

Since 25 November I have received the following gifts as well the invites noted above under events:

  • Out there SCAPE Public Art 1998 – 2018 a booked valued at $80 gifted by Warren Pringle

Councillor report December 2019

Pippa Coom Councillor Report – Waitematā and Gulf Ward

General update

  • This is my first Councillor report prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ business meeting agendas.
  • It covers the period from election day on 12 October until 24 November 2019.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.

Governing Body and Committee meetings

  • The Auckland Council governing body, made up of the Mayor and 20 Councillors, was sworn in at the inaugural meeting held at the Town Hall on 1 November. This was a ceremonial occasion with entertainment by the Chinese Blossom Arts Troupe, Auckland City Scoundrels and Sistema Aotearoa performing Maranga Ra composed by Rob Ruha (photo above taken by Ronald Andreassend:  the official party arriving for the inaugural meeting on 1 November held at the Town Hall).
  • Along with the other 3 new Councillors I gave my maiden speech to the governing body meeting on 5 November
  • At the governing body meeting on 12 November the committee structure and appointments were confirmed. I’m really delighted to be confirmed as:
    • Deputy Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee working with Chair Richard Hills (one of 4 committees of the whole plus all councillors are on the CCO oversight committee).
    • A member of the Appointments and Performance Review Committee
    • A member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum
    • Auckland Council representative on the National Council of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ)
  • Induction for Councillors started on the 17 October and has continued with sessions on legal obligations, standing orders, finance for governing body members, and a range of briefings (photo right: Councillors were treated to lunch in the council café as part of the induction day)
  • The Mayor has introduced a fortnightly catchup with Councillors that started on 4 November with a discussion regarding the proposed CCO review. This review is strongly supported by all Councillors.
  • The new committee structure is in the process of being set up and a range of briefings have got underway. It has been confirmed that the Environment and Climate Change Committee will cover the following areas:
    • Climate change mitigation and adaption policy and implementation
    • Coastal renewals, slips and remediation
    • Auckland Climate Action Framework
    • Natural heritage (including ecology and biosecurity matters such as kauri dieback)
    • Protection and restoration ofAuckland’s ecological health
    • Water including Auckand’s Water Strategy
    • Waste minimisation
    • Acquisition of property relating to the committee’s responsibilities and in accordance with the LTP
    • Grants for regional environmental outcomes

The first meeting is scheduled for 28 November.

Events and other meetings

  • Over the course of one week I attended the three local board inauguration meetings in my ward as well as the inaugural meetings of the Albert-Eden Local Board, Puketāpapa Local Board and Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board. I had the opportunity for an initial meet and greet with the Waiheke Local Board before their inauguration meeting on 4 November. Photo right with the new Waiheke Local Board.  From the left Deputy Chair – Bob Upchurch, Cr Pippa Coom, Paul Walden, Kylee Matthews, Mayor Phil Goff and Robin Tucker, Front, Chair – Cath Handley
  • Photo with the new Aotea Great Barrier Local Board. From the left, Cr John Watson, Deputy Chair – Luke Coles, Cr Pippa Coom, Sue Daly, Chair – Izzy Fordham, Valmaine Toki and Patrick O’Shea following the inauguration meeting on 31 October
  • Photo left with the former Waitematā Local Board Chair Shale Chambers on the left and new Chair, Richard Northey in the middle, following the inaugural meeting of the Waitematā Local Board on 30 October.
  • At the Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board inaugural held at Ngā Kete Wānanga Marae on 5 November with Councillors Josephine Bartley, Cr Pippa Coom, Alf Filipaina and Fa’anana Efeso Collins
  • On 22 October I attended the Auckland Transport board meeting to support the decision on the bylaw which will reduce speed limits on around 10% of Auckland’s urban and rural roads. Following public feedback, most of Auckland’s city centre will have a speed limit of 30km/h (the current 10km/h combined pedestrian and vehicle zones will remain) apart from Hobson, Fanshawe and Nelson Streets which will be 40km/h with engineering treatments to protect vulnerable road users.
  • Auckland Transport elected member morning tea and introduction to AT on 1 November.
  • Meeting to discuss active modes programme with Bike Auckland representatives and Cr Darby on 14 November
  • Fortnightly transport updates relating to ward issues
  • On Friday 22 November I hosted my first Councillor “clinic” at the Waiheke Local Board officers (advertisement right). My first Councillor event on Aotea Great Barrier is scheduled for 29 November with time for booked appointments and an afternoon tea.

I also attended the following events:

  • Late Night Art on 14 October
  • AT Board Rotation farewell event for Lester Levy and Mark Gilbert on 22 October
  • Ponsonby Business Association AGM on 22 October
  • Opening of White & Wong restaurant in Newmarket on 23 October at the invitation of NBA
  • K’rd Business Association AGM on 24 October
  • TUIA 250 Ki Tāmaki Makaurau – Civic Reception at Maritime Museum on 25 October
  • Tour de Waiheke organised as part of the Waiheke Cycling Festival on 2 November (photo right)
  • St Marys Bay Association AGM on 6 November
  • Grey Lynn Business Association AGM on 6 November
  • K3 Legal event on 7 November in the Maritime Room
  • U2 concert and entertainment in the corporate suite at Mt Smart on 8 November at the invitation of Regional Facilities Auckland
  • Armistice Day Commemorations at Auckland Museum on 11 November
  • Ludo Campbell-Reid’s Poroporoaki (farewell) after 13 years championing urban design for Auckland Council on 11 November
  • Herne Bay Residents Association AGM on 13 November
  • City Rail Link tunnel stakeholder walk through on 16 November (photo right with Cr Richard Hills)
  • Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s The New Zealand Herald Premier Series Conflict & Triumph at the Town Hall on 14 November at the invite of Geraint A. Martin (Chairman) and Barbara Glaser (Chief Executive)
  • Parnell Festival of Roses hosted by the Waitemata Local Board on 17 November
  • Launch of the Viaduct Harbour Local Living Compost Hub on 19 November
  • A Gala Concert in the Presence of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to celebrate the launching of the new name of the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre at the Aotea Centre on 20 November (at the invitation of Regional Facilities Auckland)
  • Viewing of the PUSH movie (a gut-wrenching story about housing, injustice and those fighting for better housing at the grass roots) on 21 November at the Academy Cinema at the invitation of the Auckland Community Housing Providers Network
  • Attended the Kai Conscious lunch at the Waiheke Sustainability Centre on 22 November
  • Spoke at the opening of Tatai Whenua – TUIA 250 Encounters exhibition  at the Waiheke Community Art Centre on 22 November (photo right taken by Peter Rees, one of the artists in the exhibition)
  • World Premiere of My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak by Ahi Karunaharan at Q Theatre on 22 November at the invitation of Silo Theatre
  • Grey Lynn Park Festival on 23 November
  • Enjoyed the Santa Parade from the VIP area on 24 November with my 5 year old nephew at the invitation of the Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust
  • 40th anniversary service of Air New Zealand flight TE901 in the presence of the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy at Holy Trinity Cathedral
  • Pride Launch at the Auckland Art Gallery on 24 November

Regional consultation topics

Southwest Gateway Programme

  • There’s been a lot of debate about extending heavy rail to the airport. I make use of the service train that currently exists via Papatoetoe station (only $4.80 from Newmarket). From 2021 it is going to be even more straight forward with priority bus lanes from Puhinui station to the airport. Confirmation this work is going ahead means the debate is over about heavy rail all the way to the airport. Feedback on a range of projects within the Southwest Gateway Programme is open until 8 December.

OuterLink and 650 bus services

  • Consultation went underway on 11 November on proposed changes to some Crosstown services, including the OuterLink and 650 bus services.
    • The proposed changes should result in:
      • A more reliable OuterLink, with less bunching
      • A high frequency Balmoral Crosstown service, the new 65
      • Quicker journey times on the remaining portion of the OuterLink, with fewer (hopefully nil) timing points

Regional grants

  • The Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant Fund and Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund applications will be coming to the Environment and Climate Change committee on 29 November

Significant issues and ward issues

NZ International Convention Centre Fire

  • On 23 October, the day after the NZICC fire started I visited the Auckland Council’s Emergency Coordination Centre and was given a quick tour by Sarah Sinclair Acting GM, Auckland Emergency Management. The response to the NZICC fire was managed by Fire & Emergency but the centre sprung into action staffed by council volunteers to provide support across logistics, comms, welfare and health services.In the photo right I’m standing with Sarah in front of a big screen showing live footage of the roof of the convention centre with fires still visible.

Hardship fund for Albert Street businesses

  • I welcomed the news on 31 October that the Government and Auckland Council have brought forward work on establishing a hardship fund for businesses in Auckland’s Albert Street to recognise the difficulty some have faced because of the delay in City Rail Link construction. I have supported Heart of the City in advocating for this fund.

New Network bus changes on Waiheke

  • On 22 November I was taken on a tour by Sue Pawly and Hana Blackmore (in the photo right in a decommissioned bus stop in Oneroa opposite the library) who are campaigning to restore essential bus services that were removed by Auckland Transport following new network changes on Waiheke to introduce greater frequency to the timetable.  I am working with the Waiheke Local Board on this issue.

Helicopters on Sentinel Beach

  • The rebuilding of a boat shed on Sentinel Beach allowing for a helicopter landing pad has been a long running issue. Strong opposition was voiced at the Herne Bay Residents Association AGM to the use of helicopters especially in the coastal environment. I have been advised that there is currently no application for a helicopter landing pad on this property. If there is in the future it will be a non-complying activity and it is likely it will be fully publicly notified.

Tree removal by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority

  • I’ve received a number of queries regarding concerns about the removal of 345 exotic trees from Ōwairaka / Mt Albert. I’ve provided a response along the following lines:
  • 14 tūpuna maunga including Ōwairaka / Mt Albert and Maungawhau/Mt Eden are co-governed by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority established in 2014 following a treaty settlement.  I’m not on the TMA but I acknowledge and respect the authority of the TMA and I support their management plans for the tūpuna maunga after decades of neglect by former councils (providing a link to information about the Authority).
  • The Authority is focused on the long-term restoration of the maunga and is underway to plant many thousands of trees.  The TMA is following advice on the ecological best practice regarding which exotic and pest trees need to be removed as part of the plans and the removal methodology.  You might also be interested to read why the Tree Council support the plans. https://www.treecouncil.org.nz/press-statement-regarding-tree-removal-on-owairaka-and-other-maunga-from-the-tree-council/
  • As the Ōwairaka / Mt Albert tree work is being undertaken by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority which is independent of Auckland Council, it is appropriate for the Authority to answer questions about the detail of their vegetation management. You can email  the Authority at MaungaAuthority@aklc.govt.nz  . I also understand that no trees that are notable, protected or scheduled will be removed as part of the restoration plans.

Transport

  • I am also following up a number of ward transport issues including opportunities to extend the Herne Bay walking and cycling improvements project by leveraging work proposed by Healthy Waters and Watercare, safety on the Western Springs Shared Path, and paid parking on Ponsonby Road not working satisfactorily to encourage turnover due to the low hourly rate for all day parking.

Media

  • Since my election as Councillor I have been interviewed for Gulf News (Attachment 2), and the Barrier Bulletin (Attachment 3) and interviewed by Chris Walker on Waiheke Radio. I also have a regular column in Ponsonby news. My first column as Councillor was published in the November edition (Attachment 4)
  • I attended the media briefing for the High St tactical urbanism trial on 16 October and for the Mayor’s announcement of the new Committee structure and positions on 4 November
  • I was quoted in an Our Auckland story following the upgrade of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place project winning the Planning and Urban Design category in the 2019 New Zealand Architecture Awards

Conferences and seminars

ACENZ Panel discussion

  • On 15 October I was invited by ACENZ (Representing consulting and engineering professionals in Aotearoa) to be part of a panel discussion with Ida Dowling, Sarah Woodward and Alec Tang following a presentation by Auckland Transport CEO Shane Ellison on the Future Transport Challenges for Auckland

Trafinz Conference 2019

  • I attended the Trafinz (The New Zealand Local Authority Traffic Institute) 2019 conference in Hamilton on 12/13 November. I am on the Exec Committee of Trafinz. The conference theme focused on “Smart, safe and accessible places”.
  • Highlights from Wednesday’s programme included keynote sessions with Skye Duncan, the Director of the Global Designing Cities Initiative at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Putting people first: shaping urban streets for healthy and sustainable cities, Frith Walker, Panuku, Placemaking ‐if you are not doing it for people then you are doing it wrong and Prof Graham Currie, a renowned international Public Transport research leader and policy advisor from Monash university Transit fightback ‐ pushback on technology hype for stronger city futures
  • I co-hosted a Q&A panel  “bringing it all together” and provided the final thoughts on putting people first and roundup of the conference on behalf of Trafinz. I also got to announce that the conference next year will be in Auckland
  • My conference registration and one-night accommodation ($836) was covered by Auckland Council. I used a fleet car for transport to and from Hamilton

Disclosures

  • Since election day I have received the following gifts as well the invites noted above under events:
    • 2020 Calendar from the Moths and Butterfly NZ Trust (value unknown)
    • Sea Edge: Where the Waitemata meets Auckland coffee table book by Sir Bob Harvey (value $75)

Maiden Speech 2019

As one of four new Auckland Council councillors elected for the 2019-2022 term I had the opportunity to give a maiden speech to the inaugural governing body meeting on 5 November 2019:

Tēnā koutou e ngā rau Rangatira mā e huihui mai nei

E ngā mate, moe mai, moe mai

Ka hoki ki tēnēi ao

E te Whare e tū nei,

E te wāhi taonga nei nā Ngāti Whātua,

E ngā Mana Whenua me ngā Matāwaka,

E te Koromatua,

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e nga hau e whā

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou

Ko te kaupapa o tenei rā

Ka mihi whānui ki a koutou katoa, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Greetings to everyone gathered today.  I acknowledge mana whenua and the land we stand on.  I acknowledge this house of democracy.  I acknowledge the founders of Auckland from the earliest times and remember those who have passed.   I acknowledge the Mayor and all my councillor colleagues, friends, family, staff of the council whanau and those tuning in on the live stream.   A big huge warm mihi to you all.

It is a great honour to give a maiden speech as the newly elected Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf ward representing the beating heart of Tāmaki Makarau and the stunning gulf islands.  An area contributing 20% of Auckland’s GDP, of tremendous population growth, increasing diversity, major cultural institutions, world class places of learning with residents who experience everything from dense urban vertical living to off grid rural lifestyles.

I acknowledge my predecessor Mike Lee, long serving councillor and former Chair of the ARC.  Among many achievements he was instrumental in the renaissance of the Auckland’s public transport and expansion of the regional parks network.   Passing the torch graciously is not always easy and I wish him and Jenny well.

It’s a privilege to have been part of Auckland Council right from the exciting, but at times daunting, beginning in 2010. I acknowledge Auckland’s first Mayor Len Brown for his massive contribution that has yet to be written – and for also making those early days fun.  I pay tribute to my many colleagues over the years who have tried hard to make the super city experiment work for the best interests of our communities. It is very timely for the CCO review announced by the Mayor to examine the part of the governance model that was deliberately set up to corporatize Auckland and remove democratic decision-making.

I come to the governing body with the experience of nine years on the Waitematā local board working for, what can be summed up as, inclusive, accessible, safe, healthy, connected, sustainable, resilient communities for everyone to enjoy.  It has been a challenging but immensely satisfying and enjoyable time. I’d like to think that I bring to the big table the ability to get stuff done, make the most of modest budgets, work alongside community and business organisations always with a commitment to genuine partnership with mana whenua.  There is still much to learn, and I thank everyone who has supported me on that journey.

Former Chair Shale Chambers contribution to establishing the Waitematā Local Board and setting the foundations for strong local decision making across council can’t be underestimated.  Remarkably as the chair and deputy chair combo over 9 years we never once had a bust up.  I thank him for his support, guidance and for becoming such a strong advocate for Auckland being a great place to cycle even though you will never see him on a bike.

It was easy to let go knowing the Waitematā Local Board is in good hands under new chair Richard Northey and with an impressive team.  A shout out too to the wonderful, committed local board staff who support the board so professionally and effectively.

It goes with the territory to be on the receiving end of nasty comments and the odd insult.  Supposedly this includes “I get on well with bureaucrats and management”.   I think that means you Mr Town and your team!   Absolutely I will continue to value positive working relationships and collaboration with everyone who is committed to working for and serving the best interests of Auckland.  My role is to ask the difficult questions and to know when to challenge advice but I make a commitment to always do that with kindness, empathy and respect.  (just warning everyone I have a naturally resting bitch face that I can help!)

I acknowledge my fellow class of 2019 – Angela, Tracey and Shane. As former board chairs I believe we will bring to this table an approach of collaboration, cheerfulness and working together that we have experienced at the Chairs forum.  I know we are all here to bring our A game.  Actually forget A’s and B’s –  I am calling it now that I am on team C – Team collaboration!

Like everyone around this table I was elected independently.  What I do hold as a badge of pride is that I am part of the City Vision whanau and join Cathy Casey as a City Vision councillor.  Like Cathy I don’t belong to a political party and just to put the record straight there is no party master (at least I am yet to meet him or her or find the so called back room where the deals are meant to be taking place).   We are a progressive coalition with shared values of social justice, commitment to the Living Wage, outstanding public transport, environmental restoration, action on climate change, ownership of public assets, and a real say for local communities. We are upfront about what we stand for because we believe our role is far more than about us as individuals.

I respect that around this table we all come from different political traditions of the legacy councils.  But the reality is that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for being part of City Vision.  It was the only way for progressives to break the C&R stronghold over the old Auckland City Council.  I acknowledge and thank all those who have supported my election.  Robert Gallagher Chair of City Vision, Jeremy Greenbrook-Held, my campaign manager,  the wider support team of volunteers including on Waiheke and the great team of candidates I stood alongside.

In many ways my path here started early on with community activism, volunteering and community-building. Like 39% of Aucklanders I was born overseas.   I was born in London and raised in a post war new town called Hemel Hempstead where my politics were shaped from a young age by the threat of nuclear war, the toxicity of apartheid and the rise of Thatcherism.

My family immigrated to New Zealand just after I turned 14.  Surprisingly for that difficult teenage period it was a move I embraced (in my version of the family history it was actually my idea to immigrate here and thank god we did).   I immediately felt at home living in Ponsonby and attending Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, where my interests in service and activism were encouraged. It is also where my north London accent was beaten out of me! I acknowledge Miss Pountney my principal at AGGS who is here and who I am now allowed to call Charmaine and is a neighbour in Grey Lynn.

In 5th form I was a founding member of Auckland City Youth Council established under then Mayor Dame Cath Tizard.   Many of the issues then we sought to bring a youth voice to continue to this day but now with increased urgency led by school strike for climate.

I was fortunate to spend my last year of school as an AFS student in Peru and to have completed a law degree at Otago University.  I first experienced what it was like to be brutally defeated in an election when I came second to last for the OUSA exec well behind now Mayor of Whangerei Hamish McDouall.

My community activism continued during a 15 year legal career.   It was awesome to be mentored along the way by John Edwards who gave me my first legal job and is now the Privacy Commissioner and Una Jagose my manager at the Ministry of Fisheries in Wellington who is now the Solicitor General.

During this time my dad Mel Coom was killed in a car crash at the age of 49. Many years later, and now as Vision Zero campaigner, I’ve come to think of dad’s death not just as a family tragedy but also as an example of why the “safe systems” approach to creating a forgiving roading network is so vital. I applaud Auckland Transport for moving ahead with the slower speeds bylaw work and I will continue to be a tireless advocate for road safety and transport choice.

It was redundancy from an inhouse legal job at Vector over 10 years ago that really kick started my political career.  It allowed me to pursue my passions and to throw myself into community busybody-ness, cycling advocacy, sustainability as chair of the Grey Lynn Farmers Market and Trustee of Grey Lynn 2030, and organiser of major climate action events.    I am still working with many of the fabulous people that I met through that time and I give thanks for all the encouragement I received to pursue politics in particular from Suzanne Kendrick and Barb Cuthbert.

The challenge for this term of council cannot be overstated.   Bold leadership is needed like never before.  There can be no more business as usual.  Our agreed 1.5°c target requires urgent climate action in the next 10 years.  Everything has to be seen through the lens of the climate emergency and climate action must be at the heart of all our decision-making. I’m honoured to have the deputy chair role on the Environment and Climate Change committee working with Cr Hills as chair.   We have big shoes to fill to continue the work led by Penny Hulse.  I thank her also for her tremendous support to become councillor.

All of us as councillors need to be focused and prepared for the challenge ahead.

Decisions must be made for the long term, not just the short term

We must recognise the inter-relations between issues –  climate, water, coastal risks, public transport, the central city transformation, economic development- and the broad benefits we can deliver for all communities across Auckland if we take an integrated approach.

We must ensure we are not locked into future pathway that could increase our emissions and decrease our resilience to climate impacts.

Every community will be impacted by climate change so regardless of personal viewpoints around the table, everyone has an important role to play in terms of preparing our communities for the impacts and transitions to come.  We must ensure the inevitable transition is just.

It’s not just about a central city response, but from Rodney to Franklin, South Auckland and West Auckland. We need everyone around the council table reaching into their communities to help articulate the challenge ahead and also bring back the knowledge, insights, concerns and priorities to help craft community-specific responses to the climate emergency.  This is why we must all be team collaboration.

I know you have indulged me extra time for this speech.  But there are a few important acknowledgements I would like to end with.  I’d like to acknowledge the Mayor, our koromatua.  He is a good man with a warm heart who works incredibly hard for us all.  I’d just love him not to drive so much (even if it is an e-car) and have more time for experiencing our communities on foot or bike.   I think it is hugely symbolic that both the Mayor and councillor Fletcher have both spoken publicly about having grandchildren born in the week after the election.  There’s been a reset on a fresh start this term to work together for future generations.

My partner Paul, also known as the Dennis Thatcher of Auckland politics, is here. You won’t see him at much but he is a constant support behind the scenes (please forgive me for always having an excuse not to do housework).  Paul’s lack of interest in being my plus one is great news for my wonderful mum Barbara Grace who is always up for everything. Thank you to you both, my family and my wider urban whanau.

In the last week I’ve had the opportunity to attend the inaugural meetings of the local boards in my ward – Aotea Great Barrier, Waitematā and Waiheke (I have to fess up to missing the plane to Aotea and arriving late!) I look forward to building strong relationships with the three local boards, serving my entire ward and working hard to fulfil the aspirations of all Aucklanders.

There is a lot of work to get on with and I am here for it!

No reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa

Watch the maiden speeches here