Investigation: Some Information of The Southern Initiative

Where I found it though I could say is rather ironic



Looking from AT Ronwood Ave Parking Building back towards Manukau Civic Building
Looking from AT Ronwood Ave Parking Building back towards Manukau Civic Building


You will have to forgive me if I find the following a bit ironic today. If one wants to find information on The Southern Initiative you go here: The Auckland Plan

Scroll down on that page and this is all the readily available information you get (unless you go trawling through the Auckland Plan itself):

The Southern Initiative

The Southern Initiative will focus on South Auckland and is designed to improve:

  • educational achievement
  • economic development
  • job growth
  • public transport
  • housing
  • social conditions.

The Southern Initiative is being developed in partnership with government agencies, the local community and other key stakeholders.

A map of the initiative can be viewed below:

Auckland Plan map 1.3 – The Southern Initiative (PDF 13.7MB)



Not a heck of a lot and nothing has really changed since I was critical of Council of lack of social media amenities for The Southern Initiative last November in my presentation to the Auckland Development Committee. More recent critiques of The Southern Initiative were delivered by Radio NZ’s Todd Niall earlier this week: “The Southern Initiative Back in the Media – Again


Where I did find a rather interesting treasure trove of information about The Southern Initiative and what its plans are for the next 30 years are were in all places job vacancy descriptions from the Auckland Council Website.

They are publicly available and you can see the three current openings here:

  1. The Southern Initiative Programme Manager -Youth Pathways & Early Childhood
  2. The Southern Initiative Programme Manager-Gateway & Tourism
  3. The Southern Initiative Programme Manager-Economic Outcomes

Okay all standard and so forth (also me providing a reference back in case people wanted to look at the original source) but this is where the treasure trove of Southern Initiative information was found; in these PDFs embedded below.


The Southern Initiative – Tourism and Gateways Job Vacancy


The Southern Initiative – Youth Pathways Early Childhood


The Southern Initiative – Economic Outcomes


The revealing bits about the direction of The Southern Initiative (which South Auckland would love to know folks over at Council) are found in the first two pages of each of the job descriptions:

Position Context
Auckland Council’s Southern Initiative is a 30-year programme that focuses on developing stable homes and employment opportunities for children and families in parts of the south of Auckland. It is in its first 12 months operation. The work streams are shown in the following diagram.

The Southern Initiative Diagram. Source: Auckland Council
The Southern Initiative Diagram.
Source: Auckland Council

Accountabilities of Position

Purpose of position
This position plays a lead role in the implementation of the vision and strategic direction of The Southern Initiative (TSI), one of the two big initiatives, as set out in the Auckland Plan. The overall purpose of this role is to plan and coordinate resources to deliver a long term programme of co-ordinated investment and actions to deliver transformational change in south Auckland. In particular, this position is tasked with making transformational improvements in south Auckland in the following priority workstream(s):
• Economic development
• Jobs for local people

The Auckland Plan provides the directive to:
• Develop and deliver a programme for leveraging existing and identifying future economic development opportunities, with a focus on increasing skills and jobs for local people.
While the position holder is expected to have a focus on the above they must also be flexible and, as required, contribute to other programmes across units, departments and Council/CCOs.
The Southern Initiative builds on the commitment of multiple sectors, including central government, Iwi, localboards, NGOs, business, Pasifika and other communities to help deliver this change in an area of high social need and significant economic opportunity. To achieve this, Auckland Council is working in partnership with an extensive range of both internal and external stakeholders to deliver on the Priorities and Directives contained within the Auckland Plan.
A key aspect of this role is the focus on Maori economic development.



Without going into the rest of the descriptions (in the embeds above) the above excerpt gleamed from job vacancies is more information I have seen on The Southern Initiative then for all the time it has been active (which was when the Auckland Plan went operative).

And this folks is the irony and on looking at it both a deep and bitter irony. Irony because for over 12 months and several public critiques from various places later the best source of information on what The Southern Initiative is and what its goals are come from job descriptions, NOT the Council website (as first noted above).


All that said I can see now where things are planning to go with The Southern Initiative and what streams are being looked at first. Looking at the vacancies just up in comparison to the diagram above the first three left boxes (all in the five-year section), and the third from the right are being covered. Housing within The Southern Initiative might be covered by the Housing Project Office (responsible for overseeing The Special Housing Areas per the Housing Accord). While public transport is being handled (as a mixed result) by Auckland Transport through the Southern Auckland New Bus Network, and the deeply flawed and opposed Manukau Transport Interchange.


Casting an eye over the TSI Program Manager – Economic Outcomes vacancy (the thought of applying crossed my mind but the “qualifications” look way out of my reach) I noticed a couple of things. First being that Auckland Transport is not a key internal relationships holder despite without transport people won’t be getting to and from their homes and job centres. This leads to the second thing I noticed and that is I wonder if the Economic Outcomes manager will be alongside the City Transformational Unit when this finally kicks off (well whatever version of it does):

Hmm looking at the Tourism and Gateway position I have similar concerns as well especially around place making and transport as I do with the Economic Outcomes.


So we get some more detailed information on The Southern Initiative after all. The irony is that the detailed information was found in a set of job descriptions rather than the main or a sub Council website. Remembering The Southern Initiative has been “active” since The Auckland Plan became operative in 2012.


Who Am I

Taking from the front page of the blog

Ben Ross

Who Am I?

At 29, I am a born and bred Aucklander who has lived in the city for most of my life.

Married to Rebekka, we in 2012 bought our first house in Papakura.

A University of Auckland Alumni (Geography and Political Studies I am passionate about Auckland thus actively involved across various fronts in doing my bit to make Auckland a better place.

I pride myself on being an active listener and holding (meaningful) dialogue with others in order to find solutions (or when people just want someone to listen to them).

I am the administrator to “Talking Auckland” blog talking Auckland issues with you (not at you) while also the Managing Director of TotaRim Consultancy – a niche urban and transport planning and advoacy firm


Through TotaRim (which is used when I am in my professional capacity rather than personal capacity) I carry out:

TotaRim Consultancy Limited
TotaRim Consultancy Limited

1) Conversations with clients and people of Auckland on various plans, consultations and policies that come out from Auckland Council from time to time.

These conversations include helping clients and people understand the issue at hand especially if it is complex. The conversations can also help people understand processes like a consultation process and what to expect from that relevant consultation period.


2) Submission Writing

Formal submission writing is not easy especially with large complex documents like the Unitary Plan. I have, through TotaRim, assisted clients in fleshing out their key concerns from the respective submission process and help them produce a formal submission that is straight forward and effective. I can, if required, write submissions on client’s behalf and have done so before with the Unitary Plan again being another example.


3) Presentations

Having given numerous presentations to Auckland Council and other organisations, I assist clients in producing simple but effective presentations that hold the attention of and spark debate amongst those to whom the presentation is being given.


4) Advocacy

Whether on behalf of a client or an issue I see that needs addressing, advocacy to the relevant organisation is what TotaRim has done before and continues to do so when those issues arise. One of the longer running advocacy campaigns that has enjoyed success is the push for Manukau (as recognition of its role in South Auckland as a major hub) to become a Super Metropolitan Centre[1].