Councillor monthly report October 2020

General update

This is my Councillor report covering the period from 7 September to 6 October.  It has been prepared for the October business meetings of the Aotea Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā 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.

Positions

  • Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
  • Board Member, Local Government New Zealand National Council
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee
  • Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
  • Member, Joint Governance Working Party
  • Member, Waste Political Advisory Group

Summary

  • On Wednesday 23 September at 11.59pm Auckland moved from Alert Level 2.5 to Alert Level 2 meaning that gatherings of up to 100 people were permitted. Council meetings and workshops have largely taken place via a combination of ‘in-person’ and Skype.
  • As of Friday 2 October, storage levels in Auckland’s dams remains at 67%. On 24 September the Governing Body voted to continue water restrictions but with an amendment to restrictions on commercial use. These changes will allow commercial entities to use a hose outdoors as long as it is handheld and has a trigger nozzle. Restrictions on commercial car washes will also be removed. Non-residential irrigation is still permitted as long as the system is connected to a soil moisture or rain sensor.
  • An independent review into health and safety as Ports of Auckland got underway.

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 10 September the Environment and Climate Change Committee endorsed Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan’s proposed partnership and governance approach in principle and approved establishing a Climate Political Reference Group to advise and direct staff on the implementation and delivery of the plan.

On 10 September the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee approved the 2020/2021 Community Facilities Work Programme.

On 17 September the Finance and Performance Committee received an update on the progress for financial year 2020/21; an update on the Value for Money programme; and noted Auckland Council has achieved $69million towards the $120million savings target this far.
The committee also approved the Panuku Development Auckland and Auckland Transport Park and Ride Integrated Development programme allowing for a process to start to consider development opportunities at transport hubs.

On 22 September the Council Controlled Organisation Oversight Committee approved 2020-2023 statements of intent for Auckland Transport, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Limited, Panuku Development Auckland Limited, Regional Facilities Auckland and Watercare subject to requested modifications.

At the meeting I raised the concern that Auckland Transport has cut the delivery of cycleways target for 20/21 from 10km to 5km despite feedback from council to pursue the “potential for innovative and low-cost techniques to be deployed to achieve council priorities.  Areas where this may apply include road sealing, renewals, and active modes (building on recent momentum in walking and cycling)”.   I have yet to receive a satisfactory response from AT and do not support the cut to the target.

On 24 September the Governing Body voted to maintain water restrictions and adjust the restrictions for commercial users.

The Governing Body also approved the terms of reference for an independent review into health and safety as Ports of Auckland.   I have been one of a group of Councillors supporting the Mayor to launch a review to take a close look at the workplace culture at the Port and systemic failings that have led to avoidable deaths.

On 1 October the Planning Committee approved private plan changes in Drury, Patumahoe South, Flat Bush and Smales Farm.

I voted against progressing the private plan change request in relation to 34.5ha of land at Patumahoe South.  The land in question is 98% elite and prime soils, the land is not identified for intensification in the Unitary Plan, Auckland Plan Development Strategy or Future Urban Land Supply Strategy and there are significant transport issues north of the site. I also didn’t think the Climate Impact Statement in the report was adequate. The next step was for the private plan change to go out for public consultation before a series of independent hearings.

Other key meetings and events

  • On 7 September we had an online session to welcome our new Chief Executive Jim Stabback
  • Extraordinary meeting of the Appointments and Performance Committee on 8 September
  • Attended a series of weekly workshops as part of the 10 year budget process
  • On 11 September I co-chaired the LGNZ Auckland Zone Meeting with Richard Northey. The new LGNZ President Stuart Crosby and Vice President Hamish McDougall presented at the meeting
  • On 11 September I met with Auckland Transport staff on the Future Connect project and on 25 September met to discuss the Auckland Cycle Programme
  • On 15 September, Councillor Richard Hills and I visited a nursery in Māngere where native trees are being grown for Auckland Council projects
  • Attended the Waitematā Local Board meeting on 15 September and the Waiheke Local Board meeting on 23 September to give my Councillor’s report.
  • Governing Body / Independent Māori Statutory Board Joint Meeting on 21 September
  • On 25 September I attended the “Governors’ Hui” involving the Mayor, Councillors, Local Board Members and Executive staff members. It was an opportunity to come together to think strategically about moving from a COVID-19 phase of reaction to one of future-focus and recovery.
  • ACCAB workshop and meeting on 28 September
  • On 29 September I took part in a City Rail Link tree planting event on the new Lower Queen Street Square “Te Komititanga” (photo right)
  • On 2 October I travelled to Wellington for the LGNZ combined National Council Meeting and Strategy Day
  • On 6 October I held a ‘Conversations with your Councillor’ session at the Waiheke Local Board office, I met with board member Kylee Mathews and was taken on an informal tour of Piritahi Marae by Biana Ranson. I also had the opportunity to meet with Kristin Buscher coordinator at Waiheke Resources Trust to hear about their wetlands restoration & native tree planting work

Regional Consultations

Regional Parks Management Plan Review is out for consultation until 26 October 2020 to help protect natural, cultural and heritage values and guide the activity and use of regional parks for the next decade. Suggestions are wanted on how our 28 regional parks are protected, used and managed.

Other matters

Hauraki Gulf Forum

On 8 September my Hauraki Gulf Forum co-chair Nicola Macdonald and I had our official photographs taken wearing our Kahu Korari / Pake (woven capes). Nicola commissioned these as a symbol of the enduring relationship and commitment to uphold the values and and aspirations to protect our taonga tuku iho, the Hauraki Gulf.

Co-chairs Hauraki Gulf Forum with Mayor GoffOn 29 September, we met with Mayor Phil Goff to update him on new forum goals and co-governance structure; to discuss the proposed briefing to incoming Ministers, the likely Government response strategy to Sea Change and key issues regarding the Gulf for consideration in preparation for Auckland Council’s 10 year budget.

 

Councillor report September 2020

General update

This is my Councillor report covering the period from 11 August to 4 September.  It has been prepared for the September 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.

Positions

  • Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
  • Board Member, Local Government New Zealand National Council
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee
  • Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
  • Member, Joint Governance Working Party
  • Member, Waste Political Advisory Group

Summary

  • Auckland moved into Alert Level 3 from 12 August until 30 August following evidence of community transmission. (Attachment 1 Our Auckland: Stay home and stay local, Councillor Pippa Coom urges)
  • The Governing Body voted unanimously to approve all 64 recommendations of the independent review of our Council Controlled Organisations including a merger between Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development and Regional Facilities Auckland.
  • As of 1 September, water levels in Auckland’s nine water collection dams is at 66 per cent. However, the water level in the Hūnua dams, which provide 80 per cent of Watercare’s water storage, is still far below normal. Water restrictions continue.

Covid-19 Response

Council staff responded quickly to Alert Level 3 restrictions from 12 August closing council facilities such as libraries and community centres.  Regular updates were provided to all elected representatives.

I supported the funding being put in place to secure Aotea Great Barrier Island’s essential supply and medical freight service.

Councillors Josephine Bartley, Fa’anana Efeso Collins and Alf Filipaina

The Pasifika community has been particularly hard hit by the impact of the coronavirus and the second round of lockdown restrictions. Councillors Josephine Bartley, Fa’anana Efeso Collins and Alf Filipaina  have been taking an especially strong role leading the community outreach, communications and providing support.

Meetings and workshops were up and running online with minimal downtime. Online continues to be the default meeting setting going into Alert Level 2 from 31 August.

Auckland Council community facilities reopened on Monday 31 August, with health and safety the top priority. Face coverings became mandatory on all public transport.

Example of a “parklet” in a parking space

I welcomed the support Council is providing to make better use of outdoor space for hospitality and retail through a new fast track application process but have followed up about extending this to businesses making use of adjacent car parking spaces rather than blocking access on footpaths.

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 11 August the Finance and Performance Committee approved the Auckland Council Group Policy for Retention Money. The committee received an update on the Emergency Budget 2020/2021 and approved $5.2 million of additional capital expenditure, and associated shovel-ready funding, for the Resource Recovery network project.

On 13 August the Planning Committee approved its forward work programme and established delegations relating to COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) resource consent applications and notices of requirement.

The committee also established a delegation of Planning Committee members to approve the notification of a plan change to the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) to remove unnecessary restrictions on the installation of rainwater tanks in urban and rural parts of Auckland.

On 20 August the Parks, Arts, Communities and Events Committee approved 2020/21 funding allocations for the Regional Events Grant Programme; Regional Arts and Culture Grant Allocation; Regional Sports and Recreation Grants Programme; and Cultural Initiatives Fund.

The committee also approved the Māori Outcomes Performance Measurement Framework; progressed the Review of the Regional Parks Management Plan and approved a one-off $100,000 grant funding to the Hibiscus Coast Youth Centre as provided for in the Emergency Budget 2020/2021.

On 27 August Governing Body received a briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic and an Auckland Emergency Management status update from Group Controller Emergency Management, Ian Maxwell, Director Executive Programmes and Phil Wilson, Group Recovery Manager.

That the Governing Body agreed shareholder comments on Ports of Auckland Limited’s 2020-2023 statement of corporate intent. I worked with Councillors Henderson, Casey, Collins and Bartley to ensure that council sought an explanation of what is being done to improve health and safety, including evidence of staff engagement in improving health and safety, and the comments of stakeholders, including unions, on the work done to address any concerns.   Tragically only days later a worker was killed at the Port.

The Governing Body also unanimously approved all 64 recommendations of the independent review of our Council Controlled Organisations including a merger between Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development and Regional Facilities Auckland.

On 3 September the Planning Committee approved an affordable housing forward work programme (available in Attachment A of the agenda report), the formation of a political working group to provide advice to progress affordable housing in Auckland and requested through council’s briefing to incoming ministers, a call for the incoming Minister of Housing to promote:

i)         legislative change to facilitate inclusionary zoning for affordable housing

ii)        increase the building programme for social housing in Auckland

iii)       facilitate investment in build to rent construction

iv)      make changes in the Building Code and Building Act, as outlined in the Mayoral Taskforce on Housing, to lower the cost of building construction.

Plan changes relating to the Avondale Jockey Club, Howick Business Special Character Area and the Pukekoe Park Precinct were also approved.

Other key meetings and events

MC Lucy Lawless and Jenny Cooper of Lawyers for Climate Action NZ

Just before lockdown I was a guest panellist on how NZ’s climate change commitments and legal obligations coalesce with strong advocacy to create a potent context for transforming Auckland’s transport priorities, fast. The panel followed powerful presentations by Dr Paul Winton of the 1 point 5 project and Jenny Cooper QC of Lawyers for Climate Action NZ Inc.   The All Board! Climate action event was hosted by Bike Auckland, Greater Auckland and Generation Zero and MC’d by Lucy Lawless

A number of events were disrupted by the Alert Level 3 restrictions.  Meetings that continued online included:

  • Mayor and Chairs weekly meeting
  • All Councillors briefings
  • LGNZ Metro Sector meeting on 14 August and LGNZ AGM on 21 August
  • Conservation Week online event on 17 August: Hon. Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation was joined by conservation commentators to discuss the last few months and its impact on nature in our urban environment in Tāmaki Makaurau.
  • Auckland Domain Committee meeting on 17 August
  • Meeting on 20 August with Manager, Regulatory Compliance to discuss noise complaints in the city centre
  • Ministers Henare, Mahuta and Auckland Council elected representatives – COVID19 discussion on 25 August
  • Joint Governance Working Party Meeting on 25 August
  • Panuku catch up 28 August
  • Auckland City Centre Advisory Board Meeting 31 August
  • Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Board August business meetings to give my Councillor update
  • Workshops for Governing Body, Finance & Performance Committee (commencing the Long-Term Plan/10 year budget process), Environment & Climate Change Committee (focused on implementation of Auckland’s Climate plan) and Planning Committee
  • Inaugural demographic advisory panel meeting on 31 August (photo right)
  • Pōwhiri for new Chief Executive Jim Stabback on 1 September broadcast online
  • Meeting on 3 September with the Mayor, the CEO, representatives of MUNZ and Councillors Henderson and Casey to discuss the tragic fatality at the Port on 30 August.

Other matters

Hauraki Gulf Forum

The Hauraki Gulf Forum’s meeting on 25 August was held via Zoom. We heard seven public forum presentations and received stocktakes on riparian planting and marine dumping and approved the Annual Report.

A joint government team presented Sea Change Tai Timu Pari Marine Spatial Plan – Government Response Strategy.  Attachment 2 Ponsonby News Column September 2020 A brief reprieve for the Hauraki Gulf during lockdown

Wayfinding

It is great to see a project I have worked on for many years as a local board member finally get delivered.

Almost a decade ago Walk Auckland’s Andy Smith brought to my attention the issue with NO EXIT signage on streets that actually provide a thoroughfare for walking (and often cycling too). These streets are all over Auckland but rarely have signage for those walking. The funding for the project was secured just before the end of my last term on the Waitematā Local Board.

When Auckland went into Alert Level 3 and my local walks increased, I spotted one of the new signs.

LGNZ AGM

I attended Local Government New Zealand’s (LGNZ)’s online AGM on 21 August as one of four Auckland Council delegates.  Member councils passed 9 remits to direct LGNZ’s policy advocacy.

I spoke in support of a water bottling remit (with minor suggested amendments to points 2 and 4) proposed by Queenstown Lakes-District Council, calling for LGNZ to work with the Government to:

  • Place a moratorium on applications to take and/or use water for water bottling or bulk export.
  • Enable regional councils and unitary authorities to review inactive water bottling consents, with a view to withdrawal of the consent and discourage consent ‘banking’.
  • Undertake an holistic assessment of the potential effects of the current industry, its future growth and the legislative settings that enable councils to effectively manage those effects.
  • Initiate a comprehensive nationwide discussion on the issue of water bottling (within the wider basis of water use) and implement any changes to the legislation and policy settings as required.

Member councils also elected Stuart Crosby as LGNZ President, replacing Dave Cull who steps down from the role. Hamish McDouall, Mayor of Whanganui District Council was elected as vice-president.

Councillor report August 2020

General update

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.

Positions

  • 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

Summary

  • 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
  • Cr Cathy Casey, Council colleagues and Auckland City Missioner, Chris Farrelly

    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.

Other matters

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

Photographed with Committee Chair Richard Hills and I are mana whenua representatives, Katrina Cole from Generation Zero and some of the key council staff who have been integral in putting this piece of work together.

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.

Acknowledgement to Hon Nikki Kaye

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.

Other attachments:

Our Auckland:  Building a resilient city

Our Auckland: New public spaces in Auckland’s city centre coming to life this summer

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

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

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

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

Chair’s report: Reflections on the 2016-2019 term

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

Living Wage celebration with Mayor Goff who moved all council employees to a living wage on 1 September 2019

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.

Kelmarna Gardens spring festival

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.

Western Park news stairs opening

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
    • New paths in Symonds St cemetery

      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

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Kaumatua Bob Hawke

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
    • Presenting on a submission to the governing body with Shale Chambers and Richard Northey

      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.

Community-led Development

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:

    • Waiparuru stream in Symonds Street Cemetery

      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

We are host to a multitude of events and support the delivery of many more through event grant funding including:

    • 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.

Before and after of the stairs at Point Resolution with the inclusion of a bike channel

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

New playgrounds are also about to get underway at Western Springs, Outhwaite Park, and Home Reserve (indicative image right).

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.

Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board member Maria Meredith is one of the volunteers at Sunday Blessings

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.

Transport

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
    • Opening the Grey Lynn Greenway 2017

      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.
    • Proposed quick win contra flow on Crummer Road

      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.

Wayfinding

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).

Cycleways

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.

Lightpath Te ara i whiti opening 2015

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.

School Safety

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 suite of safety improvements will be introduced outside and around Newton Central School in Grey Lynn

      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.
Western Springs College students presenting a petition seeking a pedestrian crossing

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.

Opening of the restored Ellen Melville Centre with Mayor Phil Goff, Kaumatua Bob Hawke, amd members of the Melville family

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.

We’ve worked with Auckland Transport to identify locations for new toilet blocks that include drinking fountains and bus driver facilities (photo right: new toilet on Victoria Street).

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.

Climate Action

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).

A model of the proposed community recycling centre at Western Springs

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)

Civic Duties

Richmond Road School assembly

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

Auckland Council’s Local Board chairs 2019

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).

Looking ahead

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