Those Secret Papers

Where’s Wally?


Seems our Ageist Old Fart from the NZ Herald – Bernard Orsman has had one of those John Key/David Shearer “brain fade” moments when banging on about the Unitary Plan. Orsman decided to go post this piece in the Granny Herald which caught the attention of a few people:

Secret plan papers kept from public

By Bernard Orsman @BernardOrsman

8:06 AM Monday Apr 29, 2013 

The Auckland Council is sitting on secret documents used to draw up a new planning rulebook for the city and instructed its top lawyer to keep them hidden from the public.

Mayor Len Brown and chief executive Doug McKay have rejected requests from the Herald to release background papers used by a political working party to develop the most important planning document in the history of Auckland.

The new rulebook – or Unitary Plan – sets out a new way of life for Auckland’s 1.5 million residents that includes high-rise apartments and infill housing to cope with squeezing another 1 million people into the city.

But when the Herald sought the background papers on the heritage rules from Mr McKay under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, the council’s general counsel Wendy Brandon refused to release the material. Requests for background papers on other issues would also be refused, she said.

The Herald is seeking a review of the council decision from the Ombudsman.


Not trusting Orsman I decided to go digging up for myself for these apparent secret papers. Often private citizens – those being private citizens who have not gone out of their way annoying Council have better luck getting a hold of council documents than the commercial media. I got an answer back pretty much the same day in regards to those “secret” paper and it is the following:


The papers are both beside me and on my desktop. I have had them since 2011 (with the collection still ongoing) and I already refer to them quite often here at this blog for research. Heck the paper version even follows me to Unitary Plan Community Meetings as well. So what were those papers? Well they were:

  • The (operative) Auckland Plan
  • The 7000 page draft Unitary Plan including maps – both electronic and hard copy
  • Every single Auckland Plan Committee agenda with all the attachments (often with Powerpoint presentations attached) added since The Auckland Plan became operative in 2011 if not earlier


Anything not available would have been from commercial sensitivity grounds such as someone’s property to be directly affected by a project (happens). However, those documents can also be sort after – usually with some black highlighter through it.


So the question was asked (basically Where’s Wally) about the background documents used to draw up the Draft Unitary Plan. Well seems the answer was if I trawl through over 10,000 pages of both hard and digital material – the background information is all there. One just needs to go sifting through it to go find it – or be more proactive and go ask someone who knows 😛



Might be time to leave the Herald alone folks. I see do a pretty decent coverage on the Unitary Plan from all angles including the youth angle.


At the same time I could always go out to the community and talk Unitary Plan independent from the Council. Might go work on that business flyer this morning…



BR:AKL: Bring Well Managed Progress

The Unitary Plan: Bringing Change

Auckland: 2013 – OUR CITY, OUR CALL