Opening of the new Parnell Train Station

Cutting the ribbon at the Parnell Station opening with Cr Mike Lee, Mayor Phil Goff and Auckland Transport Chair, Lester Levy

Speech on behalf of the Waitematā Local Board at the Parnell Station Opening ceremony held on 13 March 2017

It is a great honour to represent the Waitematā Local Board and to have the opportunity to speak in front of such a distinguished gathering at a truly momentous occasion for Auckland.  The opening of Parnell station is a significant milestone in the ongoing renaissance of Auckland’s rapid transit network.

I’m also fortunate to be speaking last  – not because I put value in getting the last word but because although there have been many thank yous and tributes there are still important acknowledgements to be made from the Board’s perspective.

I would first like to acknowledge this place. Parnell station is located in the historic Waipapa valley , a site of significance to mana whenua back into time and the early settlers of Auckland who coveted the strategic location and pure waters of Waipapa Stream.

The fact the station is located in the Waipapa valley is thanks in large part to many people gathered here today who fought for the valley’s heritiage to be recognised,  the day lighting of the Waipapa stream, regeneration of the stream banks and to maintain public access to Parnell and the Domain. There is no time to traverse the history now but the Board is looking forward to documenting it with the community and finding ways we can include story telling in the valley and at the station.

I know there is a long roll call of people who played a role – let me acknowledge former Auckland City Councillors Richard Simpson (attending today all the way from Brisbane), Christine Caughey (well ahead of their colleagues at the time in valuing public transport over motorway building madness);  members of Parnell Heritage, Parnell Community Committee Luke Niue, Jennie Goulding, Mary Barry,  Rendell Macintosh, Roger Cole-Bake; Debbie Harkness former Parnell Mainstreet Manager was a strong supporter back in 2008, and more recently Cheryl Adamson and the Parnell Business association all who have helped keep the focus on Parnell as a destination.

Before I turn to the man who deserves recognition as the driving force behind Parnell Station. I’d like to acknowledge those who did the work behind the scenes and deserve to feel very proud today in particular Nick Seymour, who worked on the project for AT from 2008 until September 2016. The early work led by Nick and his team involved preparing the construction of new platforms and station building. That early enabling work involved a monumental earth moving effort without which the station would not likely have been built.

Giving wind to the workers and politicians I acknowledge all the public transport advocates who campaigned for a rail station over the years.

The Waitematā Local Board has supported the Parnell Station project since day one. This is of course down to Councillor Mike Lee.  There has rarely been a local board meeting since 2010 at which Mike hasn’t updated the board on the progress of the Station.  He has fought long and hard for a station in this location starting back in 2007.  As Chairman of the ARC he was also instrumental in saving the critical element of the heritage station.

Thank you Councillor Mike Lee.  A proud day for many people here but particularly you Mike.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge my fellow board members – Shale, Richard, Adriana, Vernon, here today  who led by Shale last term supported the Board funding, from our transport capex fund, the path connection from the platform through the Domain to Carlaw Park.   Thank goodness we do have some skin in the game to justify a spot on the run sheet with the opportunity to give our acknowledgments today!

We look forward to the restoration of the station building; realizing the benefits for Parnell and the expansion of services as the station comes into its own– which is certainly guaranteed once 600 apartments are built right here for gold card users and the connections to the university and Domain are complete.  Thanks to all those who had the vision to see the project through in this location.

Next we’re determined to open up the old Parnell rail tunnel (in better condition than the new tunnel I might add)  to create a unique greenway walking and cycling path from the Strand to Newmarket via Parnell Station. A project we think is worthy of government funding.

Thank you once again for this opportunity to speak today and to acknowledge everyone involved

Related reading

Parnell Station is open, Our Auckland 

Parnell rail station opens with heritage building sporting original colours, NZ Herald

 

Chairperson address to the Waitematā Local Board 2016-19 inaugural meeting

Making the Chair's declaration with friends and family in support
Making the Chair’s declaration with friends and family in support

Kia ora huihui mai tātau

E te iwi tēnā koutou, mihi mai,  

E ngā mana, e ngā reo e ngā hau e whā

E te rangatira o Ngāti Whātua o Orākei, tēnā koe

E te iwi o Tāmaki Makau rau tēnā koutou katoa

E te whare, tēnā koe,

E te hapori kua tai mai  tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa

Nau mai piki mai, haere mai

inaugural-meeting-mike-lee-and-shale-chambers
With Cr Mike Lee and Deputy Chair, Shale Chambers

On behalf of the board I would like to welcome all our distinguished guests including family and friends who have come along in support. Thank you Matt Maihi and Aunty Margaret from Ngāti Whātua o Orākei for your mihi whakatau and Otene Reweti for responding on our behalf.

Thank you Barry Potter for officiating and our local board services team for their work supporting the inaugural meeting.

Greetings and welcome to Councillor Mike Lee who has been returned for the third time as representative for Waitematā and Gulf ward.  We’re very fortunate to have you here as a strong advocate for the community and look forward to working with you.

The new Mayor Phil Goff gives his apologies but has our full support as he works to build trust and confidence in Council, and tackles the huge challenges facing Auckland. Greetings also to Richard Hills newly elected Councillor for the North Shore Ward who will be working with Mayor Phil to take the city forward.

I’d like to start by acknowledging the founders, all those who have come before us to create and build Tāmaki Makarau and more recently the people who took on the daunting task of establishing the super city and making it work.  An incredible amount has happened over the last 6 years so that, despite many challenges,  Auckland is undoubtedly a better place.

One of the people who has played a significant role over that time has been the inaugural chair of the Waitematā Local Board, Shale Chambers. He has done an outstanding job setting a strong foundation not just for our board but for the governance of Auckland. I’d like to acknowledge his tireless work for the Board in steering a progressive agenda that has achieved results. There is a great deal that Shale can be very proud of making happen with the support of the board including some significant projects like the extensive Myers Park upgrade, securing the funding for the complete refurbishment of the Ellen Melville Centre that is going to create a much needed community hub for the city centre,  and securing resource consent for the Weona-Westmere coastal walkway. He has also been instrument behind the scenes on making things happen. For example securing a venue for the successful Pop Up Globe  and gaining support for a major upgrade of Karanagahape Road from the city centre targeted rate.  In the best tradition of Ken Livingstone he has no wish to ever ride a bicycle but he gets why Auckland should be a bike friendly city.  

He has also been amazingly courageous at times in knowing the time to act and not take the easy path.  I feel particularly proud of the support he gave to the name change of lower Khartoum Place to Te Hā o Hine Place in honour of the suffrage memorial.

I thank him for the opportunity to now lead the board.  It is a huge privilege and I acknowledge the trust, responsibilities and confidence that is being placed in me.  I’ve committed to being collaborative, transparent and to continuing building on the relationships across the community, with our iwi partners and at all levels of the Auckland Council whanau. 

Together with all other previous board members  I’m proud of our many achievements and also to have been part of a Waitematā Local Board that has stood up for social justice, adopted the Living wage, committed to being accessible to everyone, stood up for public transport, for environmental and heritage protection, for public ownership of strategic assets, and for local communities to have a real say.  I’d like to acknowledge all the board members who have previously served for their significant contribution in particular Deborah and Christopher who retired at the end of last term and Greg Moyle for his service to local government. 

Shale, me and Rob are now officially the old timers of the board returned for our third terms.  It is a shock to me to realise that I am now in the senior section of the board!  

I am really delighted that Vernon has been returned for his second term and that we are joined by experienced government veteran Richard Northey, dynamic social entrepreneur and lecturer Adriana Avendano Christie  and planner and business owner Mark Davey.  They, together with the old timers, make up an impressive, talented team who I look forward to working with. We are all committed to working together with effective governance and responsible financial management for the good of Waitematā.

Looking ahead we have much to do over the next three years. We have community assets to enhance and services to maintain including our precious libraries, playgrounds to upgrade, we’re committed to the goals of a smoke free and zero waste Auckland with the establishment of a community resource recovery centre in conjunction with the Puketāpapa and Albert-Eden Local Boards.

We wish to continue the upgrade of Symonds Street cemetery, plant street trees, and the ecological restoration of our native bush and historic streams.  We recognise our role as place makers who can contribute to local economic development in partnership with our 7 business associations.  We value & support the arts, events and culture. We’re determined to connect with our North shore neighbours by finally getting Skypath built (something Shale committed to in his inaugural speech in 2010!)

We also recognise our role to contribute to the wider well-being of  all Aucklanders in creating opportunities for everyone, ending homelessness, providing families with access to quality affordable housing and delivering on real transport choices.

We know that the only way Auckland will truly be the best place in the world to live and a leading international city is if we take care of our people and environment.  We wish to be an age friendly and child friendly local board area that takes local action to meet one of the biggest challenges of our time by becoming a low carbon community.

In thinking about our role as local board members there is one particular aspect I wish to highlight by quoting Jeff Speck the author of Walkable Cities and a supporter of 8-80 cities

The healthiest, wealthiest, most sustainable and vibrant communities in cities around the world are unique in many ways. But there is one factor above all others that these communities have in common: they are, nearly without fail, highly walkable places.

This requires a commitment to slower speeds, people friendly infrastructure, public transport, bikeable streets and public spaces – all very achievable in compact Waitematā with the right political support.  

In finishing I reflect on what it means to serve our citizens and to provide leadership that achieves the aspirations of the community.  I’m committed to celebrating and embracing diversity and providing space for creative innovation and design thinking.   This requires new ways of operating by the Board and Council so all the people of Waitematā (including the growing inner city population) feel that local government matters and that they wish to participate. I look forward to putting this into action with a fantastic team of board members and officers as we start on the term ahead.

So behalf of the Board I’d like  thank everyone for attending today and sharing in the spirit of this very special occasion.  We are committed to working with you to create a strong, enriching, diverse, healthy, safe Waitematā in the beating heart of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Nō reira

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, rau rangatira mā

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa

Local Elections 2016

The Local Elections 2016 are underway. I’m seeking to serve for another term on the Waitematā Local Board (my election profile is available here).  I’m standing as a candidate with the progressive City Vision team – a coalition of Labour, Greens and community independents like me.

Here’s why it is time to vote for your progressive candidates in the Local Elections 2016 on now

Over the last 6 years of Auckland Council your progressive representatives, with clear principles and values have achieved results and delivered where it matters.   We need your vote to ensure that Auckland’s progress is not stopped in its tracks at the expense of community, arts & culture, parks, heritage and the environment. We need a progressive Council and Local Boards that can work with Phil Goff to ensure we keep out assets, our communities have a strong voice, we invest in Auckland and we can continue working to deliver real transport choice and solutions.

Last local body election, only 34% of Aucklanders mailed a vote but we all live with the consequences. Your vote makes a difference.
Your City Vision and Roskill Community Voice candidates:
Please vote no later than 5 October in the local government elections for progressive candidates across the Auckland region.  Voting ballots must be posted by 5 October to arrive in time for election day on 8 October.
For the first time you can also deliver your voting documents to the ballot box in your local library right up until midday on election day.
City Vision is a coalitions of Green, Labour and community independent candidates. More about Who we are
Compare the candidates on the Show your Love website
Didn’t receive your voting documents call 0800 922 8822
#Election2016 #Showyourlove #VoteAKL

Future of Transport in Auckland

Along with thousands of Aucklanders last weekend I celebrated a new era of transport for the city with the launch of the electric trains at Britomart.

The EMU launch on Transport Blog and a really interesting history of how the trains were saved in Auckland here