This is my Councillor report covering the period from 8 July 10 August. It has been prepared for the August business meetings of the Aotea Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā Board Local Boards.
The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events and meetings, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.
- Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
- Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
- Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
- Board Member, LGNZ National Council
- Member, Auckland Domain Committee
- Auckland Council adopted the Emergency Budget on 30 July.
- On 21 July the Environment and Climate Change Committee unanimously voted to adopt Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Action Plan
- As of 4 August, water levels in Auckland’s nine water collection dams remain at 59.5% per cent. Water restrictions continue.
Governing Body meetings – Key decisions
The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only.
On 16 July the Finance and Performance Committee agreed by 20 votes to 3 to recommend to the Governing Body that the Emergency Budget be based on a package of a general rate increase of 3.5%.
The committee also agreed to recommend that Governing Body adopted the Rates Remission and Postponement Policy.
The committee approved implementation of the Asset Recycling Budget and recommended that Governing Body approve disposal of the properties named in the budget.
On 21 July the Environment and Climate Change Committee voted unanimously to adopt Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan. The final plan will be launched digitally on council’s website later this year.
The committee also received a progress report on implementing Auckland’s Urban Ngahere Strategy ( Our Auckland: Auckland’s tree canopy cover grows by 60 hectares).
The committee approved a programme of work to develop a 100 year management policy to respond to the hazards caused by ‘too much water’ – specifically flooding, coastal inundation and coastal erosion.
On 30 July the Governing Body adopted the Emergency Budget 2020/2021, including 21 Local Board Agreements, and set rates for the 2020/2021 financial year.
The committee also agreed the Tupuna Maunga Authority Operational Plan 2020/21; adopted the amended Elected Members’ Expenses Policy; and confirmed appointments to the Demographic Advisory Panels.
The committee agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Crown, Kaipara Uri entities and the Northland Regional Council to progress the proposed Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme, and establish a joint committee to provide stewardship and governance for the programme.
Other key meetings and events
In the period 8 July -10 August I attended:
- Co-Chairs met to Hauraki Gulf Forum business with Minister Eugenie Sage on 9 July
- On behalf of the Hauraki Gulf Forum I spoke at Hauraki Gulf Watershed // The Awakening on 11 July at Maungauika. An event bringing together tikanga, science, technology and art to bring attention to the need to restore the mauri of Tīkapa Moana
- Councillor Richard Hills and I received an update on the Regional Pest Management Plan on 13 July
- I met with Auckland Arts Festival Chief Executive David Inns and Artistic Director Shona McCullagh on 14 July
Launch on 15 July at the Auckland Central Library of ‘Opening Little Boxes’ a book written during lockdown by Cr Cathy Casey, partner Kees Lodder, daughter Alex Casey and Manu Bertao. All author royalties go to help the homeless through Auckland City Mission and Lifewise.
- Auckland transport announcement by Ministers Phil Twyford and Julie Anne Genter at the Te Atatu Boatclub on 18 July (photo right)
- On 20 July I attended an introduction by the joint central and local government Three Waters Steering Committee to the recently announced National Three Water Reform Programme.
- Waiheke Local Board meeting on 22 July (via Skype)
- The Karangahape Road Business Association hosted Mayor Goff and I for a walkabout on 23 July. We observed progress on the K’rd City Rail Link station; met with Business Association Chair Muy Chhour and General manager Michael Richardson for an update on issues they are facing; and visited local businesses including Monster Valley (photo right).
- Manaaki Tāngata event hosted by Lifewise, Auckland City Mission and the Police at the Ellen Melville Centre on Saturday 25 July
- Aotea Great Barrier Local Board meeting on 28 July (via Skype)
- Auckland City Centre Advisory Board Meeting 29 July
- Mayor Goff and I met with Auckland Police District Commanders on July 29 where we discussed post-COVID-19 issues around the city (photo right: Superintendent Jill Rogers from Counties Manukau, Superintendent Karyn Malthus from Auckland District and Inspector Michael Rickards standing in for Superintendent Naila Hassan from Waitematā)
- Waitematā Local Board Plan consultation – Hearing style event on 29 July
- 3 August – 7 August was arecess week for the governing body (no official meetings). I was fortunate to enjoy part of the break on a “busman’s holiday” on Waiheke. I spent a morning in at the Waiheke Local Board office for councillor catch ups.
Emergency Budget 2020/2021
On July 16, the Finance and Performance Committee agreed, by 20 votes to 3, to recommend to the Governing Body that the Emergency Budget be based on a package of a general rate increase of 3.5%. On July 30, the Emergency Budget was formally adopted by the Governing Body and rates were set for the 2020/2021 period.
The Governing Body also voted to adopt the Rates Remission and Postponement Policy to assist those financially impacted by COVID-19 with rates payments. ( Ponsonby News Column – Emergency Budget 2020/2021 Decision)
I read the feedback on the budget proposal carefully. A majority of submitters in my ward supported the package based on a 3.5% rates increase. Importantly the majority of organisations across Auckland supported the Mayor’s proposal – organisations representing union members, businesses, employers, faith, environment and arts groups. A lot of the feedback asked council to invest in jobs and communities to assist the recovery and rebuild rather than taking an austerity approach.
Once we had worked through all the financial information carefully – including the need to find an additional $224m to respond to the drought – every councillor supported the budget except one.
Auckland’s rates and annual increase continue to be comparably lower that other cities (eg Tauranga 4.7%, Hamilton 4.7%, Wellington 5.1% and Christchurch 3.5% 2020/21 increases). It is important to note that Council is supporting financially distressed ratepayers with targeted assistance via the rates postponement scheme.
There is still a lot of pain in the budget and cuts to jobs, projects and services but retaining the commitment to extend the living wage to contracted cleaners is one of the positives the Mayor and councillors were able to celebrate with the Living Wage team straight after the budget was adopted on 30 July (photo right).
Auckland’s Climate Plan
On 21 July the Environment & Climate Change Committee unanimously passed Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan. A plan to halve our emissions by 2030, to get to net zero by 2050, keep to 1.5 degrees of warming and to adapt our city to cope with the affects of climate change which we are seeing more intensely each year. The final plan will be launched digitally later this year.
Hauraki Gulf Forum
Hauraki Gulf Forum Co-Chair Nicola Macdonald and I met with Minister Eugenie Sage on 9 July to discuss Hauraki Gulf Forum Business (photo right). On July 24 we met with Minister Nanaia Mahuta via Zoom on 24 July to discuss the Forum’s shift to a co-governance leadership model; our goals for the Haukaki Gulf Marine Park; and our commitment to delivering for Māori.
On 19 July I was hosted by Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki at the inaugural launch of the Hukunui Pā restoration project on Te Motu Tapu a Taikehu (Motutapu Island). The project was launched with a special Matariki planting day as part of the One Billion Trees programme. The aim for the day was to plant 2500 trees of the 123,000 that will be planted over the next 3 year in a partnership between the Iwi and the Ministry for Primary Industries and with Te Papa Atawhai (Department of Conservation).
On 31 July, Hauraki Gulf Forum Co-Chair Nicola Macdonald, Executive Officer Alex Rogers and I spent the day visiting with Forum members in the Waikato – a great opportunity for regional collaboration as we work to heal the Gulf. We met with Mayor Sandra Goudie and Regional Councillor Denis Tegg in Thames; Councillor Donna Arnold in Te Aroha; Councillor Phillip Buckthought in Paeroa and Councillor Rob McGuire in Hamilton.
Many thanks to Nikki for all her hard work as MP for Auckland Central. She can be really proud of everything she has achieved during her time in parliament. We’ve enjoyed a positive working relationship and I have valued her advice and support in my role. Nikki is tireless in following up on issues for constituents and fronting at meetings and events. I wish Nikki all the best for her next adventure.
Our Auckland: Building a resilient city