This is my final report after nine years on the Waitematā Local Board. I have reported monthly throughout my time on the local board. This month I take the opportunity to provide my reflections on the 2016- 2019 term and to give thanks and acknowledgements. ( It is on the agenda for the final local board meeting for the term on 17 September 2019)
Since the local board’s establishment in 2010, for the first two terms under the leadership of Shale Chambers, we have put in place a clear direction for being an accessible, connected, sustainable, inclusive, vibrant local board area. We have built a reputation for being an effective, collaborative, hardworking local board that takes our local responsibilities seriously, but always considers the bigger strategic picture.
The “Super City” governance structure was imposed on Aucklanders and came with ongoing concerns about what it would mean for local decision making and identity. We have focused on making Auckland Council, together with the CCO’s, work properly and deliver for the community. We can see the impact we have made across our responsibilities for local parks, events, arts and recreational services and facilities, community facilities, libraries, and environmental management. A key role of the local board is also place making and shaping responsibilities, which has required active involvement in wider transport and heritage, urban design and planning issues affecting the local level.
At times far too much energy has gone into “educating” all the parts of the council family about the governance structure and the role of local boards. After nine years we have seen huge improvements but there is still more to do. I welcome a proposed review of the Council Controlled Organisations next term.
It has been a real honour to Chair the local board for the 2016-2019 term and a privilege to represent the city centre and central suburbs of Auckland. We are the beating heart of Tāmaki Makaurau, the economic engine room of the region, and home to outstanding cultural, educational and arts institutions, and major events. It is an exciting place to live, visit, work, play and study. Our local board area is the front door for international visitors and increasingly the place to experience Māori culture in Auckland. It is home to vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods and a growing city centre population who are embracing urban living.
This report seeks to cover some of the highlights of what we have achieved this term. Shale, in his report, has comprehensively covered the 2010- 2013 and 2013- 2016 terms. I’ve tried my best to capture as much as possible and to acknowledge everyone who has provided a huge amount of support and encouragement. Apologies in advance if I have missed anything significant – at a certain point I had to bring to a close what was becoming a very long report!
A local board of firsts
As a progressive board we are committed to social justice and have been willing to take risks and adopt policy often before any other part of council. We are the first local board to approve an Accessibility Plan and a Low Carbon Community Action Plan. We led the way in committing to a City for Peace, Smokefree parks and playgrounds, the Living Wage, to Auckland becoming a Fairtrade City and CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women).
And if agreed at our final meeting we will be the first local board to adopt a localised urban ngahere action plan, which is intended to deliver on Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy.
Community Engagement and Partnerships
We are fortunate to have very active, engaged community members. Over nine years it has been a pleasure to build relationships, work with a wide range of community leaders and to seek out new ways of engaging and consulting to reach our diverse and growing residential populations. I made a point of reading every piece of feedback received by the board through the many consultation processes.
Our Local Board Plans 2011, 2014 and now 2017 have provided an opportunity to sweep up the community’s projects and initiatives to deliver on the priorities we have been told are important. I have enjoyed taking an active role in the process of developing each plan.
A few highlights of our approaches to engagement include:
- Beating the bounds a walk of the local board boundary at the beginning of each term (first initiated by myself and Andy Smith of Walk Auckland in 2011)
- A one-off Pecha Kucha Town Hall edition that launched our 2014 local board plan
- Taking part in Auckland Council’s first Facebook live engagement event with board member Adriana Christie as part of the Annual Budget consultation 2019/2020 (photo right)
- Hearings style feedback sessions – we are one of the few boards to continue with this format
- Taking consultation events into the community with co-hosted public meetings, library pop-ins and info stands at events
There is still more to improve engaging with the hard to reach particularly with city centre residents, residents with English as a second language and young people.
Our partnerships have continued to flourish this term with established organisations and emerging ones. As a former Trustee of Kelmarna Gardens I’m pleased to see how the board’s support has provided stability and allowed the organic farm to become more sustainable.
I’ve maintained close relationships with our well-run community centres – Parnell, Grey Lynn and Ponsonby and regularly attended the lively and informative Central City Community Network meetings funded by the local board.
Planning for the future
The drafting, consultation on and approval of development plans covering all our major parks and town centres has been a major focus of the board first initiated by Shale Chambers. The plans guide renewals and planning to avoid ad hoc projects and investment.
The value of development plans can be seen in places such as Western Park where we have ticked off nearly every project listed in the implementation plan as budget has become available including new lighting, new paths, upgrade playground, new boardwalk and stairs down from Hopetoun Street, new toilet block and new fitness equipment. Further work is underway on a tree management plan.
Plans completed or underway include:
- Meola Reef Development Plan
- Western Springs Lakeside Park (to be signed off by the incoming board in February 2020)
- Western Park Tuna Mau Development Plan
- Point Resolution Taurarua Development Plan
- Grey Lynn Park Development Plan
Symonds Street Cemetery development plan (photo right: new paths in the cemetery)
- Newmarket Laneways Plan
- Karangahape Road Plan 2014-2044
- Newton Eden Terrace Plan (2016-2046)
- Ponsonby Road Plan 2014-2044
- Parnell Plan
We were also only the second local board to develop a City Fringe Economic Development Action Plan in 2014 that was then further revised in 2017.
Iwi relationships and working with Māori
Delivering on Council’s commitment to Māori at a local level is a priority for the local board. I’ve worked to strengthen our iwi relationships. I’ve particularly valued the constant presence during my time on the local board of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Kaumatua Bob Hawke and Matt Maihi who have led us through many significant opening and blessings.
For 2019/2020 we have allocated funding to a new programme called Te Kete Rukuruku, which aims to showcase the Māori history and stories of Tāmaki Makaurau. One element is to add names significant to Māori to local parks.
It was with great sadness that we heard the news that Dean Martin, Principal Advisor, Māori and Te Tiriti Relationships and Governance, Te Waka Anga Mua ki Uta passed away suddenly in April. Dean provided steady guidance to the local board, led our visit to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Marae early in the term and wrote my mihi for the opening of Ellen Melville Centre.
The bigger picture
The local board has taken every opportunity to take a strategic view of national and regional issues. We are able to sustain a substantial output of work thanks to the portfolio structure (established under Shale’s leadership) that has allowed local board members to take responsibility for specific areas of interest. In this term we have provided input into the following policies, bylaws proposals and plans:
- QEII Square Private Plan Change
- Auckland Plan Refresh
- Urban Development Authorities Discussion Document
- Justice and Electoral Select Committee’s Inquiry into the 2016 local authority elections
- Tākaro – Investing in Play discussion document
- Governance Framework Review
- Four Wellbeings Bill
- Dog Bylaw and Policy
- Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags
- Residential Tenancies Act 1986
- Healthy Home Standards
- Low emissions economy draft report
- Regional Pest Management Plan
Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2018
- Draft 2018-2028 Regional Land Transport Plan
- draft Regional Fuel Tax proposal
- draft Contributions Policy
- Rates Remission and Postponement Policy
- Child and Youth Wellness Strategy
- Natural Environment Targeted Rate
- Draft Facility Partnership Policy
- Auckland Water Strategy
- Regional Public Transport Plan
- Sports Investment Plan 2019 – 2039
- Productivity Commission Issues Paper – Local Government Funding and Financing
- Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw
- Department of Conservation’s proposed revocation of certain delegations to Territorial Authorise under the Reserves Act 1977
- Trade Waste Bylaw 2013
- The Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Bill
- Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill
- Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw 2019 and amendments to the Trading and Events in Public Places Bylaw 2015
- Moving light vehicle fleet to low-emissions: discussion paper on Clean Car Standard and Clean Car Discount
- Road to Zero: A New Road Safety Strategy for NZ
- Proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme guidelines
- Proposed biodiversity strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand
I would particularly like to acknowledge board member Richard Northey who always takes the time to review and comment on every local board submission (even when not within his portfolio areas) and has drafted many pieces of feedback directly.
The local board has embraced the opportunities to fund, facilitate and encourage community-led development and empowerment. I am particularly proud of the role I played in initiating the Ponsonby Park design through a community-led process.
In 2006 the former Auckland City Council purchased a site on Ponsonby Road to create a civic space. In 2011 Shale Chambers identified this as a project for inclusion in the first Waitematā Local Board plan. Consultation on options for the site followed in the Ponsonby Road masterplan led by me and former local board member Tricia Reade.
As the feedback was split between three options and as, following further consultation, we had reached an impasse I suggested we kick off a community-led process (inspired by Jim Diers community building presentation on his visit to Auckland) but never tried before on such a large project.
Seed funding from the local board led to the establishment of the Ponsonby Park working group. After lots of work and community engagement a winning design by Landlab became the board’s priority project for delivery (in Council speak known as an OLI – One Local Initiative).
It was fantastic news for the project in August when the Finance and Performance Committee agreed to fund the project from the sale of 200 Victoria Street (in addition to funding secured through the OLI process). If all goes to plan sod turning on “Ponsonby Park” will take place towards the end of next year.
We’ve also been open to innovative and creative approaches to achieving community outcomes.
Following determined advocacy of the Parnell Business Association and Parnell Community Committee we developed a Parnell Plan through a community working group process.
Other community-led projects that are flourishing include the Grey Lynn Pumptrack, Pollinator Path at Hakanoa Reserve, new Waiatarau Freemans Bay Park, Kelmarna Gardens, and OMG Organic Market Garden.
The launch and celebration of a Local Living Compost Hub at O.M.G – Organic Market Garden funded by the Ministry of Environment (photo above) shows how there is workable alternative using urban farms and localised collection points that is far better for the environment and healthy communities.
Sarah Smuts-Kennedy is the vision holder who has done an amazing job leading the way with a fabulous team. The transformation of a piece of dirt on Symonds Street is super impressive.
Stream restoration, natural environment and water quality
Restoring and caring for the environment has been a core part of the local board’s kaupapa. For many years we have allocated $70,000 to top up of the council’s ecological restoration contracts to control pest plants and improve reserves like Jaggers Bush, Meola and Lemmington.
Other projects include:
Waipapa Stream: community-led project funded by the local board over many years. If it wasn’t for Parnell Community Committee and Parnell Heritage this stream would have ended up piped and lost for ever
- Newmarket stream: community-led restoration and planting project (known as “off the Deck” in partnership with the Gecko Trust) co-funded with the Ōrākei Local Board
- Restoration of Waiparuru stream in Symonds Street Cemetery
I would have liked to have seen the restoration of Western Springs Native Bush get underway in partnership with the community this term (a project I have been involved in since 2011 when I first walked the bush area with officers to assess the potential for native tree planting and track renewals after the zoo had tried to take the area for walking an elephant herd). However, the project is currently held up by the appeal of the Council’s resource consent to remove the remaining pine trees to make way for planting.
More on how targeted rates are being put to use for the environment and waterways across Waitematā (Attachment 1 Our Auckland Waitematā environment enhanced and protected by targeted rates).
Vibrant, local, zero waste events and support for the arts
- Festival Italiano
- Buskers Festival
- Lightpath Festival held in 2017 and 2018
- Santa Parade
- Franklin Road Christmas lights
- West End Tennis Cup
- Art Week
- Fringe Festival
We also directly deliver the popular Myers Park Medley (photo above with AK Samba) and Parnell Festival of Roses. Through our advocacy and leverage with funding we’ve been successful in pushing events towards zero waste and promoting active travel.
We have committed to supporting our creative community, professional artists and arts organisations through the delivery of arts programmes.
A few firsts in the 2019/2020 budget include a $85,000 grant to TAPAC and the establishment of an Arts Space coordinator.
I was delighted to see that Walking in Trees is back in Albert Park – a project the local board first funded through the POP programme in 2014 (photo right with artist Richard Orjis).
The Rainbow Machine was eventually delivered earlier this year as a regionally funded project, but first came to life as a local board initiative to create pop up child friendly play spaces (eg swings in bus stops) but morphed into a major art project picked up by the Public Art Team.
Progress on maintenance and renewals
A major restructuring a couple of years ago saw a new “Community Facilities” department take over all project delivery and maintenance for all Council assets. For local boards this was a source of frustration as local knowledge disappeared and local boards lost direct points of contact especially for Park projects.
In 2017 Ventia became the contractor covering the Waitematā Local Board. There were notable teething issues to start with but recently we have seen huge improvements in maintenance.
Albert Park (photo right) is an example of where a big push has been made to improve the levels of service to maintain it as a premier park. Ventia also took over street and town centre cleaning from Auckland Transport on 1 July 2019. This has led to a noticeable improvement and areas being cleaned for the first time especially in the city centre. The maintenance in four city parks is being done without any agrichemical sprays thanks to funding from the local board.
We’ve also made a lot of progress in the organisation’s approach to renewals. We’ve pushed to ensure that every renewal is an opportunity to enhance a community asset rather than done on a like for like basis. This has resulted in wider park paths, new seating, and enhanced community facilities (photo right: before and after of the stairs at Point Resolution with the inclusion of a bike channel).
Other changes at Community Facilities have resulted in more streamlined project delivery and a dedicated point of contact for the local board. Rod Sheridan, General Manager, Community Facilities was thanked at the August Chairs’ Forum for the success of Project Streetscapes, the many improvements and hard work that has been seen across all local boards.
New and improved playgrounds and parks
The local board has been responsible for upgrading and improving play opportunities across Waitematā, including new playground equipment at:
- Myers Park
- Vermont Reserve
- Ireland Street Reserve
- Grey Lynn Park
- Coxs Bay Reserve
- Sackville Reserve
- Tirotai Reserve
- Western Park
- Old Mill Road
- Francis Reserve
We’ve identified gaps in the play network in Newmarket especially for young people and in the city centre. There is also the need to improve shade at our playgrounds.
A long running initiative of the local board has been to install drinking fountains into every park and streetscape upgrade. We’ve also installed three on-street drinking stations via Local Board Capex Transport Funding. The locations of all the city centre drinking fountains are about to go live on the Project AKL website.
Following extensive consultation on the Te Wai Ōrea Western Springs Development Plan and feedback from bird experts we have recently confirmed a new local board policy that feeding the birds at Western Springs park will now be “actively discouraged” due to disease and environmental risks, with new signage and on-site education. Attachment 3: Bird feeding at park “actively discouraged” amid fowl and public health concerns.
I’m really pleased that long-standing project to build new changing rooms in Grey Lynn Park that will be available for use by the Richmond Rovers Rugby League Club is about to start construction.
Action on homelessness
Homelessness has become a growing issue and one that traditionally local government didn’t get involved with. Fortunately, the Mayor has embraced Housing First with the support of the local board. The City Centre Targeted rate provided $2 million of funding for a major restoration of James Liston Hostel emergency accommodation and more recently $600,000 for outreach services.
We’re the only local board to support the wider regional strategy by allocating $20,000 last year and this year to support homelessness solutions.
We also opened up Outhwaite Hall for outreach services while James Liston Hostel was being upgraded and have supported groups through our community grants including a trial of showers at Ellen Melville Centre, support for Lifewise Merge Café, St Columba for their community lunch and Sunday Blessings for their weekly dinner outside Central Library .
I was able to play a role helping the City Mission navigate Council processes to secure a $5million grant for the HomeGround housing and social services project.
Support for Local Business
We have focused on initiatives that bring prosperity to our town centres, empower start-ups and social enterprise and underpin the important work done by the seven business associations in Waitematā. We provide funding to the Young Enterprise Scheme to reach students from all secondary schools in the area.
I have been on the Ponsonby Business Association for six years and am really pleased to see the organisation is going from strength to strength under new leadership. I’ve enjoyed regular catch ups with Newmarket Business Association’s Mark Knoff-Thomas, Parnell’s Cheryl Adamson and Karangahape Road Business Association’s Michael Richardson. It is a pleasure to work with all the General Managers who are determined, focused and passionate on behalf of their members. More recently I have been working more directly with Viv Beck, General Manager of Heart of the City in her role as Chair of Auckland City Centre Advisory Board, since I replaced Shale as the Board’s representative earlier in the year.
As a foundation committee member of the Grey Lynn Business Association I was particularly pleased to hear a recent presentation to the local board covering a range of activities and the difference an annual grant of $10,000 from the local board has made to the volunteer-led association.
Looking ahead the Newmarket Business Association has brought a proposal to the local board to investigate the possibility of a targeted rate to fund improvements that were identified in Newmarket Laneways Plan (building on the upgrade of Teed Street completed in 2018). At our August board meeting we confirmed our support in principle and referred the matter to Financial Strategy and Planning to provide advice on the process, governance and feasibility of introducing a new targeted rate for Newmarket.
Through the City Rail Link (CRL) project we have seen how important a Development Response package is to assist businesses. Barbara Holloway in the Auckland Design Office has done some great work on the template involving a package of support such as business advice, mentoring, activation around projects, signage, and communications.
A Development Response package was trialled initially for CRL on Albert Street by CRL Ltd (the organisation responsible) but it took my intervention and Heart of the City for it to be properly rolled out. I’ve also escalated issues for the Karangahape Business Association to ensure the Development Response is effectively in place during the enhancement project and City Rail Link construction. The ongoing issue of how our severely impacted businesses will be supported during the civil works, for example through a hardship fund, is yet to be resolved.
As part of Auckland’s City Fringe Economic Development Plan implementation, we’ve allocated $57,000 for a web branding ap that can be skinned by each individual Business Association. At our August meeting we heard an update on how the project is progressively positively.
Placemaking and tactical urbanism
One of the roles of the local board I enjoy the most is placemaking to create inviting people-focused places. As a progressive local board we’ve enabled and promoted innovative approaches to placemaking and encouraged the organisation to embrace tactical urbanism and the use of trials. One of the first trials I helped make happen was the installation of a bike parking corral on Ponsonby Road. I’ve also played a role in the removal of parked cars from the Eastern Viaduct (photo right) for a public plaza.
A local board responsibility that is often overlooked is the naming of streets and public spaces. I’m proud that we’ve been very receptive to adopting names recommended by mana whenua such as the new Tīramarama Way and recognised the civic contribution of women with two new names Amey Daldy Park and Freda Barnes Plaza soon to open at Wynyard Quarter.
The renaming of lower Khartoum Place as Te Hā o Hine Place (photo right with Ngāti Whātua representatives who gifted the name and National Council of Women) was a project I initiated following the upgrade of the stairs and successful fight to retain the suffrage memorial located there.
From the outset the local board has made it a priority to provide accessible, connected, safe transport networks with well-designed streets. As the transport portfolio lead for nine years (this term with co-portfolio holder Vernon Tava) I have been involved in many projects that have made a contribution to better public transport, safer streets and increased numbers giving cycling a go. A few highlights include:
- Franklin Road: This project took years to get underway due to it being in the too hard basket. We kept the pressure on resulting in a $21million transformation including new lighting, storm water separation, undergrounding, traffic calming, cycle lanes and new tree pits.
- Opening of Parnell Station March 2017: The local board was instrumental in helping to make this happen by funding a new pathway connection between the station and Carlaw Park
Grey Lynn Greenway opened June 2017.
- Ponsonby Road pedestrian safety project completed in 2018 part funded by the local board. The side street raised tables on Ponsonby Road and as part of the Franklin Road are as a result of the local board’s advocacy.
- Victoria Park lighting improvements currently underway will create a safe pathway between Franklin Road and Wynyard Quarter. Securing the budget took a lot of wrangling.
- Freyberg Place pedestrian mall: Thanks to the local board advocacy AT went ahead with re-classifying the road as a “pedestrian mall” well in advance of the agreed timeframe that was originally negotiated. In the end there was very little objection.
- Return of the bus service to Williamson Ave: A win for people power.
- New and improved pedestrian crossings: My heart sings when I see kids able to get to school safely because of a new crossing.
- Cycleway openings: There haven’t been enough, but every one has been cause to celebrate including Grafton Gully, Ian McKinnon Drive, Quay Street, Beach Road and Te ara I whiti/ Lightpath (see below). After five years of debate and planning I am delighted that the Karangahape Road enhancement project including cycle paths in the design got underway in July.
- Renewals: As with the renewal of community assets (covered above) we have aimed to ensure that every Auckland Transport renewal is leveraged to provide a better outcome for the community for example through the inclusion of street trees or safety improvements. The local board often has funding to contribute. Recently we have made significant progress with the renewals team to ensure we don’t get any more “like for like” renewals.
Quick wins: A cultural shift at Auckland Transport has opened up the way for more willingness to consider “quick wins” to improve safety for active transport. I’ve suggested a number of ideas including a contra-flow on Crummer Road (image right) and a dedicated cycling route from Queen Street to the Domain.
I’ve particularly appreciated the support I have received from all local board members to take a leadership role on safe speeds, vision zero, pedestrian safety, effective parking management, removal of slip lanes, wayfinding, route optimisation for active transport and cycle infrastructure.
A couple of issues that remain unresolved that I am determined not to give up on with Auckland Transport include the current non-enforcement of berm parking that is causing damage and is unsafe and the unacceptable practice of unsafe and illegal unloading from car transporters on Great North Road.
Effective parking management
We’ve provided consistent support for effective parking management that provides access to parking for residents, businesses and short-term visitors. During the Unitary Plan process I organised a “good for business” seminar about the economic and wider benefits of removing parking minimums.
It was through our advocacy that AT was able to trial the first residential parking zone in St Marys Bay in 2014 and push ahead with zones for all the city fringe suburbs.
One of my pet projects over nine years has been to improve the wayfinding experience of people travelling around on foot or by bike. After sustained advocacy there is finally wayfinding on the North-Western Cycleway and the local board is funding new signage for all vehicle no exit streets (if approved at our September meeting).
When I was first elected in 2010 riding a bike was considered to be a fringe activity and not taken very seriously. Since then there has been a massive increase in people cycling especially where there are connected, safe cycle paths.
Through numerous consultations and surveys we know that the majority of Aucklanders own a bike and would like to cycle if they felt safe. The local board has been a strong advocate for transport choice including increasing opportunities for walking and cycling. We’ve celebrated the opening of Te ara I whiti / Lightpath, the Quay Street cycleway, Grafton Gully shared path, Ian McKinnon Drive and new greenway connections but overall the rate of progress has been incredibly slow. No new work has been started in Waitematā for over a year.
I never imagined when I became a member of the Urban Cycling Investment Panel in 2014 that allocated $100 million New Zealand wide for urban cycling infrastructure that so much would remain undelivered by 2019. The original 2018 delivery date has now been pushed out to 2021.
Unfortunately, the mistakes AT made over the West Lynn and Garnet Road/Surrey Crescent project has contributed to the delay to the programme as well as the increasing costs of meeting community expectations to deliver a whole range of streetscape improvements beyond just cycle lanes. Following further consultation regarding fixes to the design at the West Lynn shops AT is looking to progress with improvements to the crossing (image right of the preferred design following consultation with the local businesses and affected residents).
AT has a target of only 10km of new cycleways a year across Auckland – a significant chunk of which has been funded and delivered by the local board. However, I am hopeful that going forward, AT will take a new focus on safety to push ahead with a connected network with temporary designs and solutions where possible. This is absolutely essential work especially with the explosion of micro-mobility and the need to prioritise footpaths for people on foot.
At the Waitematā Local Board’s August meeting we voted on a package of safety improvements from a one-off $1.4m community safety fund. The fund was launched following the introduction of the fuel tax. I’ve worked with my co-transport portfolio holder Vernon Tava on putting together the recommendations of what should be prioritised based on community feedback.
The following safety improvements will be made across the local board area:
A raised pedestrian crossing will be introduced on West End Road / Fife Street by the bus stops next to the West End Lawn Tennis Club in Westmere
- Hopetoun Street in Freemans Bay will see various additional safety improvements as part of a wider footpath renewal project
- Pedestrian crossings on Lower Domain Drive at Lovers Lane and Domain Drive in the Auckland Domain will be formalised
- A raised pedestrian crossing will be introduced outside ACG Parnell College on Davis Crescent next to Olympic Reserve in Newmarket
- A suite of safety improvements will be introduced outside and around Newton Central School in Grey Lynn.
We also received a petition from Western Springs College students seeking a pedestrian crossing on Meola Road that Auckland Transport has reassured the local board will be delivered as part of the Pt Chev cycleway project.
Attachment 2 Our Auckland: Road safety improvements on the way in Waitematā
Vision Zero – safer speeds
The Waitematā Local Board was the first to adopt Vision Zero as an advocacy position and three years ago I was part of a coalition – Brake New Zealand, Living Streets Aotearoa, NZ School Speeds, Cycling Action Network- that launched Vision Zero NZ.
At the Auckland Transport Board September meeting we achieved a truly significant milestone with the announcement that Auckland is now a Vision Zero region – under the Tāmaki-Makaurau Road Safety Governance Group’s new safety strategy. For the first time there’s a goal, backed by a partnership of agencies, of no deaths or serious injuries on our transport network by 2050.
Many thanks to all the people who have worked so hard to bring this strategy together to save many lives.
Auckland Domain Committee
The local board, under Shale’s leadership was instrumental in initiating the Domain Masterplan (2015) and the setting up of a joint governance committee. I have been the Deputy Chair of the Domain Committee this term. I would have liked to have seen much quicker progress on making the Domain more accessible and safe. It is currently dominated by the 600 car parks that are predominately used by commuters and there is a lack of continuous footpath around the Domain.
Officers have been able to progress some exciting new projects such as refurbishment of the Wintergarden, a new path Te Ara Oranga to the museum, a new natural play area, and the Kari commons that is about to be built (multi-sport area with part to be used by the University while their gym is rebuilt).
Other projects that have progressed thanks to the local board coming to the party with over $1.5 million in new funding including for signage, new footpaths and car parking improvements (to allow for on road car parks to be removed on shared paths).
The final Auckland Domain Committee of this term of Council voted to remove 40 car parks from in front of Auckland Museum to improve safety and open up views to an iconic building and war memorial. This is an important step towards improving accessibility in one of our premier parks. The Museum is right behind it and doing their own bit by increasing public car parks at the southern entrance and reducing fees in their car park.
Auckland’s City Centre
We’ve seen major changes to the city centre since 2010 when the residential population was approximately 20,000. It is now almost 60,000. The majority of commuters arrive other than in private cars, and vehicles entering the city centre continue to decline.
In anticipation of the growth and the needs of the city centre residents, the refurbished Ellen Melville Centre was opened in 2017 as a vibrant community centre (photo right). Programming at the centre is becoming more focused on the needs of residents. We have also allocated funds so that the Central Library can open for an extra hour on weekends.
We’ve adopted the role of toilet “champions” by advocating for a full review of amenities in the city centre and the identification of gaps in the available toilets and information about locations. We’ve taken up the issue of the need for the new CRL train stations to have toilets available other than behind ticket barriers.
The local board contributed to the development of the 2012 City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) and Waterfront Plan. We’ve been supportive of the CCMP refresh that presents a vision of a city centre that is more family-friendly, more pedestrian-friendly and more environmentally-friendly.
The CCMP has recently gone out for consultation with eight place-specific transformational moves that will unlock the potential of the city centre.
Waitematā Local Board welcomed the decision in June by the Environment and Community Committee to declare a climate emergency. This followed a resolution passed by the local board a week prior calling on Auckland Council’s Governing Body to declare an ecological and climate emergency for the Auckland region.
We have funded for a number of years low carbon initiatives projects aligning with the Live Lightly themes: Eat, Move, Shop, Grow, Talk and Energy including:
- Low carbon lifestyles project – behaviour change actions such as reducing shower times implemented at 165 households resulting in savings of 19,356kg of CO2
- Low carbon Multi-unit Dwellings – energy and carbon assessments resulting in savings of $27,000 and 37,178kg of CO2. Three more apartment blocks will be assessed in 2019/2020 to move towards a tool available to property managers
- Waitematā Low Carbon Network – a platform to connect individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses to empower and enable local climate champions to meet the Local board’s respective carbon emissions reduction targets. The network members were instrumental in taking the Climate Emergency declaration to Council
- And a business food waste initiative
Going forward the aim of just “low carbon” is looking woefully inadequate. Auckland Council’s new goal is to achieve a zero net emissions by 2050, but bold moves will need to come out of the Climate Action Framework currently out for consultation until the end of September if we are going to have any chance of limiting temperature rises to the IPCC recommended 1.5 degrees. (photo right with the School Strike for Climate student organisers).
Another important goal that we have consistently supported is to achieve Zero Waste by 2040. Following strong community support through our first local board plan consultation we identified the need for a local Community-led resource recovery centre as part of a regional network that developed into the Western Springs joint project with Puketāpapa and Albert-Eden Local Boards.
It is fully funded with plans ready to go for consent but unfortunately the project has been held up by the Horticultural Society wanting to remain in the main building and not shift to a repurposed Western Springs community hall (image right: a model of the proposed centre at Western Springs)
I have really enjoyed all the civic duties that come with being Chair especially officiating at citizenship ceremonies, delivering the Anzac Day address at the Grey Lynn RSC service and attending events and school assemblies.
Most recently I attended the Richmond Road School assembly on behalf of the Mayor. Anna and Daneka (photo right) wrote to him with their concerns about so much plastic going into the ocean. The assembly was led by the school’s Mua I Malae (the Samoan bi-lingual unit) and celebrated Tongan language week as well as the students’ environmental projects.
Local Government New Zealand
It has been a privilege to serve on National Council, LGNZ, as an ex-officio member since May 2018 representing local boards with the support of all the local board chairs.
Next term a local board representative will be voted on to National Council following a rule change at the LGNZ conference in July. The rule change is the accumulation of many years of advocacy seeking appropriate local board representation and recognition and was made possible with the support of LGNZ CEO Malcolm Alexander who works tirelessly for the sector.
I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to attend the annual LGNZ conference when all of local government comes together to network and share ideas and information (I have reported back on every conference I have attended).
There are a number of key projects that I’m excited about but it will be for the incoming Chair to lead including:
- the refurbishment of the Plunket building in Heard Park
- the Waipapa Valley Greenway connecting Newmarket to Parnell via the old Parnell train tunnel (image right)
- Myers Park underpass
- upgrade of Hobson Bay walkway
- Myers Park Cottage restoration
- Meola Reef improvements including new pathways, improved off leash area, restoration work and closing the end of the reserve to dogs
- New paths and playground in Basque Park
- Bi-lingual park naming
- Accessibility Plan refresh
- Rose Road Plaza (a project identified in the Ponsonby Road masterplan- indicative image right)
- Establishment of the community-led resource recovery centre at Western Springs
In addition to the many transport projects and issues that are currently underway (Attachment 4 – to be tabled).
There are also regionally significant projects supported by the local board that I would like to have seen delivered by now, but I hope to stick around to see them through including:
- Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway (Skypath)
- Restoration St James Theatre
- Removal of the Dominion Road flyover
- Grafton Gully Boulevard (first supported in principle by the local board in 2016 and now part of the City Centre masterplan refresh)
- Major corridor enhancements including Hobson/Nelson streets, Broadway and Ponsonby Road
- Implementation of slower speeds in the city centre.
Acknowledgements and Thank Yous
We are fortunate to be supported by an amazing Local Board Services team. I would like to thank them all for their support, quality advice and good humour.
Thanks to those who have been part of my term as Chair: Relationship Managers: Kathryn Martin (on secondment) and Trina Thompson; Senior Local Board Advisor: Simon Tattersfield; Local Board Advisors: Corina Claps, Caroline Teh and Heather Skinner; Democracy Advisors: Sybil Mandow and more recently Liz Clemm. Engagement Advisors: Carlos Rahman, Maria Hernandez-Curry and Zigi Yates. PA Supports; Tammy Hendricks and Priscila Firmo (photo right with some of the team on a visit to Ellen Melville Centre).
We have always been able to rely on the support of Dee Sims, David Kemeys and Cathy McIntosh as our Communications Advisor; Shamila Unka, our Strategic Broker, and Pramod Nair and Mark Purdie as our Finance Advisors.
Karl Beaufort and Jacqui Thompson Fell are doing a tremendous job on behalf of the local board in Community Facilities. Ben Halliwell as our Auckland Transport Liaison has been instrumental in ensuring so many of our transport projects have progressed. I’m also thankful for the constant support and guidance provided to me personally by Otene Reweti, Senior Advisor Maori Relationships.
Across the council family I’m impressed by the dedication and hard work of the many people who are all committed to making Auckland a better place.
I’m grateful to be Chair of a local board with members who are positive, skilled, constructive and focused on achieving results. My heartfelt thanks to Deputy Chair Shale Chambers, Richard Northey and Adriana Christie, who are both standing again, and Vernon Tava, Denise Roche and Rob Thomas.
In my latest Ponsonby News update I acknowledge all the retiring board members. All board members have embraced taking on responsibilities through portfolios, are passionate about serving Waitematā and work hard for the community.
A special thanks to Vernon Tava, my co-portfolio holder for transport and portfolio lead for Planning and Heritage with me as he co-portfolio holder. I’m grateful that in practice he does all the planning work for the board leaving me to focus on my role as chair. Vernon has been a huge asset to the board, he is smart, focused and super-efficient at reviewing and reporting on the substantial number of resource consent applications (far more than any other board). Among his many achievements, that he has detailed in his own report reflecting on his time on the board over six years, is the mapping of all the amenities in the city centre long before council got on to the task.
Throughout this report I have highlighted Shale Chambers’ leadership in a range of areas. His contribution to establishing the local board and setting the foundations for strong local decision making across council can’t be underestimated. His ability to work tirelessly and make difficult decisions at crucial times has achieved impressive results for Waitematā. As the Chair and Deputy Chair combo over nine years I have been fortunate to have learned a huge amount from Shale. I thank him for his support, guidance and for becoming such a strong advocate for making Auckland a great place to cycle even though he has no wish to ride a bike! I wish Shale and all the board members the best for the future