Month: June 2013

A Cluster—-?

Someone Threw the Pipe Wrench into the Works


I saw Councillor Chris Fletcher’s comment that she was going to quit the Auckland Plan Committee workshops that are dealing with the Unitary Plan last night. I was going to look at that obstinate behaviour this morning however it seems to have caused a slight issue.

Then again with the barrow Orsman is pushing I am not particularly surprised this situation is floating around the Main Stream Media and social media realms this morning.

I will look at the consequences of Councillor Fletcher’s decision yesterday later on today. For the mean time apart from another issue that had me beavering away last I will take a look at Councillor Brewer’s piece on Campbell Live that should be giving Auckland Transport some necessary grief. Following that with some follow-up enquiries I have sent to Council on the workshops and what is going on there.


Honest reaction from me in regards to Councillor Fletcher committing the action she did yesterday? Okay sure I can understand the frustration she is venting. I did note last week that it was pointless to have the first workshop without the full information present (not due out until Friday) but, walking out? By definition if I give a presentation to the Auckland Plan Committee between now and formal notification in regards to the UP, if Councillor Fletcher asks me a question I would be inclined not to “recognise” her nor her question. This is owing to how can someone ask a question or give an answer if they have not being at the workshops to which I would be implying to on something (like Manukau).

So an interesting situation here folks, one that will be watched carefully.


Housing Simulator Feedback

What Was Said


Council has released a summary on the Unitary Plan Housing Simulator into the Shape Auckland website this afternoon.

Looking at both the Shape Auckland blog post ans subsequent 20-page PDF file the range of simulator “outputs” and comments were as diverse as those who live in Auckland. This is a good thing because it means we are getting 632 individualised attempts and pieces of feedback out of the simulator from across the spectrum.

Yours truly was one of the first to have an attempt on the simulator, you can find what I went with and my commentary in my “My Housing Mix in Auckland” post.

As for the summary of the Housing Simulator results, check out the “Unitary Plan Housing Simulator: Key themes and results” in the embed below:

This feedback from the simulator will go to the Auckland Plan Committee workshops for consideration and deliberations. We will know the outcome from this soon enough.


I also notice Council has just posted up a table of all the Unitary Plan workshops after Councillor Wood went for an apparent leak with it yesterday (and subsequently got posted into the blog). Not sure if Council was intending to release this because of George “leaking” but it is up and will be covered in the next post.

Your thoughts on the Housing Simulator and what came out with it? Leave a comment below.

This Week in Auckland

Events and Happenings


Just a small amount happening this week in Auckland in relation to civic issues around our fair city. Two of them I will be at with one me being a guest speaker to.

The first event (I am going to do this in reverse chronological order) of mention is the next Auckland Conversation piece at the Aotea Centre where the Lord Mayor of Brisbane is due to give a guest presentation. The topic matter is as below from the council website:

Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk on Economic and Environmental Sustainability
Thursday 27 June, 5.30pm-7pm
Aotea Centre, Upper NZI Conference Room

Following his appointment as Lord Mayor of Brisbane in April 2011, Graham Quirk was elected as Lord Mayor in the 2012 Brisbane City Council election.

Graham has a long record of service to Brisbane and the local community, being first elected to council in 1985. As a member of Civic Cabinet for over a decade, he has overseen key portfolios of infrastructure and finance, as well as serving as Deputy Mayor alongside Campbell Newman from 2008.

As Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk is committed to delivering for the residents of Brisbane and making the city a better place to live, work and invest in.

Over the course of his career and as part of the Council Administration, Graham has been responsible for delivering many positive outcomes and ongoing projects for Brisbane, including:

  • Easing traffic congestion with major infrastructure projects across the city,  including the TransApex network of cross city tunnels and bridges, along with the Road Action Program, which has fast-tracked 15 years of urgent road works into just four years.
  • Improving public transport with 500 new buses, and an extra 11 new CityCats. This year he introduced the CityGlider bus service, Maroon Glider Bus Service for sporting events and free CityHopper ferries.
  • A green city with the planting of two million new trees, purchasing 500 hectares of bushland for preservation and using 100 per cent renewable energy within council.
  • Enhancing Brisbane’s capacity for long-term economic growth and supporting measures that will attract more events, visitors and investment to the city.

You can register for the event by clicking on the following hyperlink: Check here to register online.

The “Conversation” should prove to be interesting as I have lived in Brisbane for a brief stint previously. I am tempted to throw a few curve balls to the Lord Mayor as well with epic failures of the Airport Tunnel Link and the Clem7, while the rail system has fallen behind including a 4.5km cross city river tunnel to increase capacity on Brisbane’s heavy rail network. The failures in Brisbane are harsh lessons and has warnings for Auckland with our transport objectives.



Wednesday morning I have my first speaking engagement which is to the Manukau Central Business Association. The topic is Manukau as the Second CBD of Auckland, a topic commented on here heavily, presented to the Council Auckland Plan Committee and submitted on in my submissions to both the Auckland Plan and Unitary Plan.

Although rather than a five-minute gloss over that I usually give to Council committees, this is a full 20 minute presentation followed by an extensive Q&A afterwards. I will be uploading the presentation for this engagement after the engagement on Wednesday morning for your consumption.

Needless to say the Manukau issue has become quite a hot button topic issue here in the South and should not be waved off so dismissively by opponents. I have noticed that the Manukau as the Second CBD option is about to become a hot political election issue as well for the Auckland Council/Mayoral elections so attention will be focusing there.\


And that is this week with Auckland and some happenings around the place. Hopefully I might catch a few Talking Auckland readers at the Auckland Conversations event. Always great to catch up and exchange banter over the issues of Our City – Our Home.


Auckland Council Elections Begin to Spark

Incumbents and Candidates Square Off


[Note from Admin] stand by for an update in regards to the poll results. Awaiting word on whether they will be released or not.

With October the month we cast our ballot papers on the 2013 Local Elections where get to vote in (and out) mayors, councillors, Local Board members and District Health Board members.

In Auckland this will be our second election as a Super City and already we have people squaring off for Ward Council seats as well as for the mayoral chains. As I mentioned yesterday in the run up post: “Does the Right Wing offer any serious alternatives or is it photo opportunities with the Prime Minister and which ever Minister trundled along, and angry press releases dumped into Scoop that sounds like a pile of Shrilling.”

Lets take a look shall we in brief at a mayoral candidate and two would-bes vying for your councillor vote.

For at the snippet piece on centre-right mayoral candidate John Palino from the Herald on Sunday.

From the HoS

Helpful Key on side – Palino

5:30 AM Sunday Jun 23, 2013
Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino with Prime Minister John Key at a breakfast held by MP Simon O'Connor.

Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino with Prime Minister John Key at a breakfast held by MP Simon O’Connor.

Super City mayoral candidate John Palino says he has the backing of Prime Minister John Key.

He has been photographed with Key at least three times this month, including twice this week. The centre-right candidate told the Herald on Sunday he believed the Nats had made “subconsciously, a tick for John Palino”.

“They don’t come out and say, ‘We support people’ … It’s how they help you out.” A Key spokeswoman said the party had not officially endorsed a candidate. “The decision on the mayoralty is one for the people of Auckland.”

Palino said he had also met people from the Labour Party, including Mangere MP Su’a William Sio, and was waiting to hear back from party leader David Shearer.

The article is also on page 12 of the hard copy if one wishes to look there.

Okay the poll numbers were not released and seems people are staying mum on them, despite the fact they should have been released to jolt the city and the MSM somewhat into paying attention.

If one is also wondering that yes I have met John Palino multiple times since he announced his tilt for mayoralty sussing out what John stands for and what he would bring to the table if he wins the mayoral chains off Len. But, I remind readers and the city that we do live in a liberal democracy and I can choose who I meet with at my leisure with those either vying for my vote or my business as a consultancy. Such as the nature of both free enterprise and democracy that we live in this city.

I am still asking for John to see if he would like to write a 1,200 word guest post for Talking Auckland in giving a summary of what he would bring to the city. The same invitation will also be sent to Len Brown as well.

As for my view on John; nice enough character and likeable in the times we have met thus far. Knowing his policy narratives that he is going to bring to the table for the city I would say that they are good policies that span both the left/right wing spectrum, AND the liberal/conservative spectrum as well.

However, I do serve a warning to our mayoral candidate(s); do not fall into the Unitary Plan and housing situation trap the central government has fallen into (especially around the Housing Accord). Our central government only sees the housing issue in Auckland in a one dimension prism (that is supply, supply, supply). There is more than just whacking some more houses in some out-of-the-way locations (as the Accord would do via the Special Housing Area provisions) to get housing affordability restored. You must see the problem in a three-dimensional prism and understand that the issue is at this point and time a three if not four prong issue. Those prongs being:

  1. Supply right across the city (Brownfield and Greenfield)
  2. Constructions costs
  3. Consenting process
  4. Planning process getting in the road and restricting freedoms
  5. Finance gearing

Okay so I added a fifth one but, two of those prongs can not be influences by council – only central government.

For a mayor to lead his or her Council in getting the housing situation under control, you MUST attack prongs; 1, 3 and 4 simultaneously at the same time. To just attack just prong number one which is all central government knows how to do (to show its lack of truth depth of understanding) is putting you on the fast track for either a comprehensive debunking in the (social) media and subsequent beating in the upcoming election or the next election if you do get in. This message also applies to any right-wing councillor candidate standing as well (to be commented on soon). So consider this a warning as not only are the blogs paying attention but, but the city is as well…

Oh and here is a hint here, the Unitary Plan (having read the document front to back) is an actual enabling document that goes some way in liberalising out our planning restrictions. It goes part of the way to the methodology I submitted on in the Auckland Plan but, not quite there yet (in handing over to the Local Board most planning oversight). For more check my submissions where the Semi-Liberal Plan District is outlined!


As for our right wing candidates who wish to become councillors

I have noticed two potential candidates of the right wishing to stand for Council. One is standing in the Waitakere area (so a challenge to the Deputy Mayor) and the other in retiring Councillor Richard Northey‘s area of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki.

Starting with Waitakere lets take a quick look at Facebook.

Cooper for Council – for the ward seat of Waitakere. Essentially a direct challenge to both Sandra Coney and more to the point our Deputy Mayor – Penny Hulse.

I have not seen policy narratives come from Ms Cooper yet but seriously, what is it with centre right oppositional candidates all vying for photos with the Prime Minister and at times a Minister. It makes the quote from the Prime Minister’s Office (“A Key spokeswoman said the party had not officially endorsed a candidate. “The decision on the mayoralty is one for the people of Auckland.”) somewhat hollow.

It also gives the strong inclination that National (and in part the government) from behind the scenes is trying to seek influence post October 12. Yep Labour and the Greens officially back candidates and at least they tell the city that. But, National never has and always prefers to lurk behind the scenes out of the public eye. To me that is indication the government wanting direct influence on and over the Council post October 12…

It is also something to watch more closely than those of Labour/Green backing. As I said at least you know the sway of those candidates or incumbents and what the central party machine is inclined to do. That allows the voter to make an informed vote on the grounds of ‘if I vote for this Labour backed candidate” I know both the central party machine is implied and will have “influence” over policy direction.’

Where as with National lurking (although these photo ops with the PM seem to be giving things away) in the background, you don’t know up front what the centre-right candidate is really standing for or how much influence is being held over them by the central party apparatus. No informed vote can be truly made if one does not have all the facts front right and centre.

So one will be keeping an eye on the centre-right candidates closely as we approach October 12. Also this lurking crap by National is a key reason of me being naturally suspicious of my own Party – to which I will do a post on later).

As for the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki contest, this came to my attention because of a press release mentioned into Twitter:

  1. 43Louis Mackenzie Mayo ‏@LouisOutlook21 Jun

    Another ignorant NIMBY by the sounds of this, please don’t vote for her. Go Richard Northey! #unitaryplan …

    Ben Ross46Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL21 Jun
  2. @LouisOutlook I thought Northey was retiring at the end of this term. As for Ms Krum I have seen that name somewhere before

    Louis Mackenzie Mayo43Louis Mackenzie Mayo ‏@LouisOutlook21 Jun
  3. @BenRoss_AKL @louisoutlook Well in that case we will have to see who else will stand.

    Ben Ross46Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL21 Jun
  4. @LouisOutlook that is where I have seen her name; The national party

As yes I believe I have met Ms Krum at a National Party conference either last year or the year before. Also probably why after reading the press release from Ms Krum I was a little bit surprised at the releases quality – POOR quality.

I have read the press release front and back just to make sure I was reading it correctly. For Ms Krum unfortunately Louis was right and (not shown here) ATB also being correct in that fact Ms Krum showed no alternatives to what is in the UP. So in essence a shrilling exercise from a centre-right candidate who in all honestly should have known much MUCH better.

Dropping shrilling or rather dog whistling press releases as a candidate for the council elections – especially as a centre right candidate with whatever links to National about the Unitary Plan is utterly dumb! Yes DUMB!

The Unitary Plan is a hot topic button issue at the moment and one being kept a very close eye on by myself, Auckland Transport Blog and the MSM (usually after both of the blogs have run a debunking exercise). Any shrilling by the centre right and particular journalists on the UP was heavily debunked very quickly. Just ask Orsman and Auckland 2040 in the levels of debunking from all sorts of media angles and publications. Auckland 2040 and myself are defrosting the relations between each other but, it shows what happens when shrilling and misinformation is pumped out and seized upon.

I especially do not take lightly to shrilling exercises against the Unitary Plan as Auckland is my city and my home and both which I take an extreme amount of pride in. Thus heavy debunking will be run if spotted!


The Conclusion?

Two fold:

First: National stop the lurking behind the scenes make crystal clear your intentions for Council and the City. Labour least have the balls to put it out there front right and centre with their candidates and policy influence for which the voter is aware of an makes their choices! How about manning up and throwing your official weight behind candidates and bring the playing field back into balance. The City DETESTS lurkers (and most likely a reason why C&R got thumped in the last election).

Second: Why I should tell this to the Centre-Right I be damned if I know, But, cut the shrilling and put something decent on the table. At least (although different) Auckland 2040 put up a credible alternative to the Unitary Plan for virtually everyone to consider. We as a city knew where they were playing, what they were against and what they wanted. We might have agreed or disagreed but we knew! Those who shrill and put no actual credible alternative forward do not deserve our attention nor vote (apart from debunking exercises).


You are all being watched (and by the comments starting to come through that point is ringing true)…

Coming up on Talking Auckland

The Local Government Elections Step Up


In the next 2013 – Local Elections post here at Talking Auckland, we take a look at the Right Wing (not Centre Right but, Right Wing) finally getting their A into G in the contesting of the Council Ward seats (so the race to become one of our 20 Councillors).

Does the Right Wing offer any serious alternatives or is it photo opportunities with the Prime Minister and which ever Minister trundled along, and angry press releases dumped into Scoop that sounds like a pile of Shrilling.

Also tomorrow in Talking Auckland; a special eye is being kept on the Herald on Sunday. Polling has been done (as alluded to on Facebook) and the numbers are apparently meant to be released (into the HoS) in regards to Brown vs Palino. Who fares what and how so? The Herald on Sunday should be telling us tomorrow with Talking Commentary to follow right behind it.

And finally why am I (naturally) more suspicious of the Right Wing than that of the Left Wing in our politics? I will reveal a bit more into my ideology and why despite being a Nat and a “Young Tory” (according to Russell Brown) I am often at wills against my own party. It will also reveal our political paradigm we actually have and how it is something else than rather Left vs Right.

All coming up as Talking Auckland continues commentary on the 2013 – Local Elections.


And This Mention from Metro

Mentions and A Piece on Cycling


Well I have my copy of the July issue of Metro Magazine and you should get your copy too. I see Metro misquoted mayoral candidate John Palino on Manukau – groan and even has full length piece on cycling in Auckland and the hurdles Skypath faces (when it should not and is a case with the opposition that should be told “oi the 1950s want their planning methodology back.”)

To the matter at hand though – the Unitary Plan I suppose all that social media spam I sent over 11 weeks was going to get picked up somewhere. And it has both on Media-3 and now Metro magazine.

Short but you get the point (plus some other replies including from our resident grumps):


Talking Auckland commentary will continue on the UP as it happens. In an interesting sense of irony though looking at numbers; if I were to break story on a leak on transport AND then one on the Unitary Plan at the same time, guess which one would get the most “views?” It would be the Unitary Plan leak. Just seems even though when complain heaps about transport in Auckland, it is just simply not as sexy to run commentary on as much as the UP (generates in interest). Go figure…


As a quick side note I have my first speaking engagement next week in Manukau on Manukau (as the Second CBD of Auckland). Seems the idea is gathering pace and steam here and should be one Council be actively considering.

Checking in on Height and Metro Magazine

Enquiry away with Council

And Apparently I got a mention in the July Issue of Metro


I have sent an email away to Council seeking clarification around the “themes” to which our submissions are being codified against. This has been done after a comment was raised by Mark Thomas of Orakei Local Board in regards to the issue of height and my comment on the first workshop that looked at height in particular.

The said comments were reflected in my “Update on Unitary Plan Submission Counts” in particular Mark’s comment:

And the top “themes” submitted on are:

  • “Rezoning requests”,
  • followed by ‘Natural Environment”,
  • “Residential”
  • and “Transportation”.
  • Oddly, height (which doesn’t need speech marks because you know what it means) is not a theme submissions are being coded against….


The extract from my email back to Council outlining the query and reason for the clarification around the issue:

Okay this is leading to confusion amongst my readers and even myself. Here we had the workshop on “principles of development” in regards to our centres in particular height yesterday.
Yet at this point in time knowing that height was a major issue right across the city (including where I live in Papakura and where I often conduct business in Manukau) (not just three particular areas that were in the MSM) it is not a theme in which submissions are being codified against – unlike zoning which is a theme (the biggest one) and being codified for.
Further more I know from blog correspondence that quite a few individualised submissions (that is those that were not pro-forma) when mentioning height as a “theme,” those particular submissions often had alternatives for the heights that were recommended in the Draft UP (including my own submission).
So height is not as a theme submissions are being codified against – yet we have individualised submissions talking about it as a theme and often with alternatives in contrast to the UP?

Once I get a reply back from Council in regards to issue I will post it back into the blog. Seems things have evolved from being just a blogger and commentator to now blogger, commentator and investigative journalist. Ah well such as the nature of the beast that is social media.


As for Metro Magazine; apparently I have received a mention in the editorial section of July’s issue of Metro Magazine. I believe it might be in relation to my Unitary Plan Twitter Spam but, will have to check. I shall get my copy of Metro today and take a look and if so inclined stick it up on the blog tomorrow.

In saying that make sure you get your July issue of Metro for some winter reading (Simon the invoice is being sent to you for that little spiel later today 😉 )