Metro Mag Opinion

Auckland Vs. Wellington


Thanks to the kindness of Metro Magazine this thoughtful Editorial piece from Simon Wilson was able to be read while I was in Sydney and Brisbane on holiday:

Wellington Wears The Pants(?)


There were four distinct themes in the opinion piece from the editorial that are mentioned and BR:AKL regularly follows – they were:

  1. The Unitary Plan and Auckland’s future
  2. Central Government sticking its nose in where it does not belong
  3. The Centre-Right on Auckland Council and its comparison to Dad’s Army
  4. And our flagging public transport system especially with rail


In regards to the Unitary Plan

From the Metro Mag editorial (embedded above)

Councillors have voted for the UnitaryPlan — they know the city is likely to grow by a million people in the coming decades and to their credit they have set out a rational and often inspired plan for managing the growth. There will be many more apartment blocks, as well as more low-rise suburbs. Much more public transport, as well as an efficient roading network. And, to make it all work, a series of major “metropolitan centres” — think Henderson, Takapuna, Botany, Albany — that will have to be much more lively and cosmopolitan than now.
To digress for a moment, that part is one of the biggest challenges. You can create more and cheaper housing away from the inner city, but if Auckland is to improve, those other centres need the boutique shops, cafes, cultural activity and streetlife that make cosmopolitan centres exciting. Yet the explosion of good places to eat in Auckland — to take just one part of what’s needed — is currently almost entirely confined to the downtown waterfront and the SkyCity megalith. We’re a long time away from growing ourselves a Surry Hills.
Disturbingly, while councillors have voted for the Unitary Plan, many have also taken care to place on record their “concerns” about anything and everything relating to their own wards. The plan requires our elected leaders to lift their vision to the future and to act for the good of the whole city. Yet it comes in election year — the very time when that is least likely to happen.


If Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse wants to know why I can be deemed harsh against the Council especially with the Unitary Plan, the above quotation would be a good start in finding out why (with a piece below being another). While I agree on the above including the last part on acting for the whole of the city rather than the patch (I covered this in an early blog piece early last year), how I would approach urban and transport development would be very different from how Penny sees it as those pushing the more Centralist (I will refrain from Stalinist for now) approach. My liberalised approach (MK I) can be seen in my submission to The Auckland Plan, with the MK II version due to start being written as my submission to the Unitary Plan next week.

Of note after getting my monthly Auckland Council flyer in the mail, while I did know Papakura was deemed a metropolitan centre in the Auckland and Unitary Plans I don’t quite think the area can support 18 stories let alone 8 at the moment nor in the next 15 years. This is also the fact I would be no more than 800 metres away from the boundary of the Papakura metropolitan centre where a possible 18 storey tower (72 metres) could go has me raising an eyebrow. Put it this way; 6-stories would be suitable for Papakura right now and maybe 8 in 20 years but I can hardly see demand for 18 with Manukau so close by.

More on the Unitary Plan as I go exploring it this week <_< – and get it on a crash diet


In the mean time I did write this yesterday with The Unitary Plan

Councils job is to moderate a free society’s determination of shaping their free urban/rural/city fabric that gives the free society its free identity. Councils job is not to regulate thus coerce the free society into something the council but not society wants. Regulation and coerce-ment is what Auckland Council is doing with the draft unitary plan to the free society that is Auckland. To me this unacceptable of Council and I will openly oppose any unitary plan that regulates rather than moderates my city. My City not the Councils nor central goverment’s city

That Penny is where I come from in my view, beliefs and values towards Auckland and setting my own betterment policies for the city


Central Government Sticking its Nose Where It Does NOT Belong


Again from the Metro Mag editorial

National’s disregard for the value of getting good people on council chimes with its disregard for the Auckland Council itself. Ministers Amy Adams and Nick Smith have both signalled they will use reform of the Resource Management Act to undermine the council’s strategic plans. Minister Steven Joyce remains unmoved by the case for an underground inner-city rail link, and that threatens to block the entire thrust of council planning on housing, transport and the places we live and work. Because of this, while the super-city election in October will be fought by a bunch of people wanting to park their bums around the council table, the right’s failure to challenge Brown will make the vote not just a referendum on his vision for the city, but a roll call on whether we believe the city should plan its future, or the government should do it for us. The centre-right should not be putting Auckland voters in that position.


Something tells me the John Key Government is still sore from the Centre-Left taking control of the Council and set to do so for at least six more years at the absolute minimum – and this is from a structure that the Key Government created with its own hands. Then again the Muldoonists in National (which has control over the true liberals upholding the actual National Party constitution of Individual Freedom, Choice and Responsibility) as the editorial suggests are rather inept in actually fostering a true centre right bloc for Auckland Council amongst other things. Literally railroading Auckland is just going to piss the city off and allow the voters to go vote for the Centre-Left in both local and central elections just to remind Wellington who they are dealing with. They say Minister Nick Smith is coming to Auckland to meet with Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse as a lion to make Wellington’s point clear over the Unitary Plan direction. Hehe good luck Nick as your “roar” compared to Penny’s roar will make your roar sound like a mouse just lost its squeak… Then again I expect nothing more or less from a has been of the 90s led by a Finance Minister has been also from the 90s… (seems I am stuck with a Worst of Both Worlds with choices in central government). So Nick and Steven – just butt out unless you want to go back to Wellington with your tails between your legs because even Big Gerry is slowly softening up on the City Rail Link…


As for Our Centre Right on Council being Dad’s Army…

From Metro Mag


Hooton explores the failure of the right to stand against incumbent mayor Len Brown, a situation that beggars belief. Citizens & Ratepayers and their various antecedents ran this city for most of the last century, and in many ways their domination in recent decades made Auckland — for better and for worse — what it is now. Hooton has revealed some of the reasons for the current failure of the right. One that he alludes to is the practice of using local body politics as a stepping stone for politicians on the way up and a retirement scheme for those on the way out. National has demonstrated a particular facility for this, with able councillors like Paul Goldsmith, Sam Lotu-Iiga and Jami-Lee Ross all forsaking the council for Parliament, and the impressive 2010 council candidate Alfred Ngaru joining them. This is not good for Auckland. A city whose economy drives the nation, which attracts almost all the country’s population growth and which has significant problems in infrastructure and social need must be able to attract some of the best and brightest politicians, from across the spectrum. Mind you, a glance around the council room at the ranks of the centre-right today suggests the trend may struggle to continue. The first term of the super-city council saw a lot of mayors from the smaller burgs getting themselves elected, especially on the right, which means, with the honourable exception of Cameron Brewer, that it’s Dad’s Army in there now. With Christine Fletcher as Captain Mainwaring. National’s disregard for the value of getting good people on council chimes with its disregard for the Auckland Council itself.


As much as I want to agree with Hooton here and have a damn good chuckle, I won’t. Mainly because I have time for Dad’s Army that consists of: Chris, George, Calum and Penny (Webster) who were all mayors in a previous council life. Yes I know Len was mayor of Manukau before now but that seemed logical at the time. And to make things drag for Hooton, Dad’s Army and Cameron will be all back next year for another three years – for better or for worse depending on your sway right now.

This piece is what stood out most (and I am truly sorry Chris, but I did not write the Metro piece): A city whose economy drives the nation, which attracts almost all the country’s population growth and which has significant problems in infrastructure and social need must be able to attract some of the best and brightest politicians, from across the spectrum. Mind you, a glance around the council room at the ranks of the centre-right today suggests the trend may struggle to continue.


Look I felt passionate enough to go consider running for Papakura Local Board this year as I work my way up to Ward Councillors as I wanted to do something for a better Auckland. Heck even the blog was structured around a campaign for the Local Board. However, I am going to put the Local Board ambition on hold this round after at-length talks with counterparts and family. In short the adage goes you are effective in implementing change pissing inside the particular tent. Well the opposite where pissing outside the tent to implement change is having more of a success for me as I push for a better Auckland.

The post “GOING FORWARD” goes at some length in what I am up to and what I will be doing for the next three years as I build a consultancy from the ground up.

So sorry folks for getting your hopes up, I will not be running for Local Board this time around with main efforts going into the consultancy to effect change for a Better Auckland. Meaning nothing actually changes majorly; the blog continues and I will strive to get a better Papakura and Auckland – just from pissing outside the tent rather than inside it 😉


And to this effect it also might be way the Centre-Right of Council is struggling to bolster its ranks with quality candidates to contest Local Board and Council, those potential quality candidates want nothing to do with the inner workings of the Council for whatever reason and like me, most likely deem getting “change” put through from outside the tent. That should sound a warning to the Centre-Right if this is the case…


And for our Flagging Public Transport Patronage

From Metro Mag one more time:

It appears public transport use has declined. It’s not a surprise. The expansion of public transport in the past couple of years has led to more use than was officially expected, but it has also led to more frustration. Public transport works well when it’s reliable, pleasant, affordable, safe and so frequent you don’t need a timetable. The rule of thumb is, the service must appeal to young single women. If they feel good about using it, so will everyone. Yes, there have been improvements. Yet every single train and bus customer in this city knows there is still a long way to go. That’s the big picture. There are also so many small examples of things going wrong — like the new platform ticketing system for train passengers who don’t have an AT Hop card. It’s diabolically difficult to understand, and it’s also an honesty system for everyone who is not travelling all the way to Britomart, because no one checks your ticket. So now it’s harder for casual users to catch the train, and the system encourages fraud. How dumb is that?


Answering the question – DUMB


I will go as usual into length on this – although at this rate I will be flogging a well dead horse this side of 2014. However after running around on Sydney Trains using their gate and ticket system, AND seeing Pre Pay Buses where you must have a pre purchased pass (so no buying on the bus) (usually the express and heavy peak buses) I was rather impressed despite the issues Sydney-siders might see with their system (every system has flaws). Again my “Going Forward” post alludes to where I am going with Auckland’s transport currently.

More on Sydney’s heavy rail system later in the week



So who wears the pants – not Wellington more so as Auckland led by our Deputy Mayor begins to roar with volume enough to rattle Wellington… [what was that I just heard from Town Hall 😉 ]