The 16/17 #SummerSeries. The Year That Was

#SummerSeries starting with looking back


Well Christmas is less than a week and away with 2017 not long after that.

Subsequently the annual Summer Series begins for Talking Southern Auckland today and will run through to Auckland Anniversary Weekend unless something of urgency comes up in the interim.

We look back over some of the highlights from 2016 ranging from the Unitary Plan, to the City Rail Link, to more Unitary Plan, some elections and of course where would we be without Manukau City Centre. So let’s take a look back at some of the highlights what was 2016.


The City Rail Link

Then Prime Minister John Key would announce in January during an annual Auckland business lunch that the Government would finally formalise and chip in for their share for the vaunted City Rail Link linking Britomart to the Western Line near Mt Eden Station. At the same time Key would not rule out alternative funding streams such as congestion charging on the motorway network to help plug the funding gap and speed transport projects up. Having the Government finally come to the party (after businesses gave the Government a much need shunt up its backside for procrastinating) on the CRL would prove to be former Mayor Len Brown’s legacy to Auckland after his six years as the Super City’s first mayor.


The Unitary Plan #1

At same time of the City Rail Link announcement did the Government also warn those then opposing the Unitary Plan that they would have little support of the Government. Back then the Government had outlined rather loudly that it would support the recommendations of the Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel for greater intensification in the existing Auckland urban area. Unfortunately 13 Councillors has missed that memo when it came to a very bitter debate the following month when it came to the “out of scope” recommendations of the Unitary Plan.


The Unitary Plan #2

February 24 will be a day of infamy in regards to Councillors acting in an anti-democratic stance as they did that very day (Council Votes to Withdraw Its #UnitaryPlan Evidence. Call For Commissioners). 13 Councillors would vote to remove ‘out of scope’ material in regards to Council’s rezoning stance to the Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel. The vote would earn those Councillors widespread condemnation and threats from Bill English of Government intervention. Taking the final votes for the final version of the Unitary Plan into account later that year February 24 would also mark the peak of the NIMBY power sphere before it would diminish away to be replaced by YIMBY’s and a concerted campaign to allow more intensification through via the Unitary Plan.

As would also be discovered Housing New Zealand through their submissions made the ‘out-of-scope’ material back into scope during the Hearings making the 13 Councillor’s vote technically null and void. Then Deputy Mayor Hulse also laid down the law in regards to the Unitary Plan as well.


Transform Manukau formalised into existence

April would mark a significant milestone for both myself and Manukau City Centre with the then Auckland Development Committee adopting the High Level Project Plan marking the formal start of the Transform Manukau urban regeneration project. After five years of intense lobbying by me as well as others Panuku Development Auckland would begin the processes in New Zealand’s largest urban regeneration project with Transform Manukau some 600 hectares in size. The Transform Manukau Omnibus continues to follow the Manukau story.


Manukau City Centre Source: Auckland Plan Implementation Update 2015
Manukau City Centre
Source: Auckland Plan Implementation Update 2015


The City Rail Link starts construction

June would mark the start of the City Rail Link construction with a formal sod turning ceremony outside Britomart. From that post:

The City Rail Link with its 3.4km tunnels, two underground stations at Aotea and K’ Road, and the new junction/station at Mt Eden will open up Britomart making that station a through station. This allows doubling of the capacity of the heavy rail network (trains can go every five minutes on all lines except the Onehunga Line). The City Rail Link also allows the construction and operation of the North Shore, Botany and Airport Lines over time as well. Meaning with the inclusion of Isthmus Light Rail and the North Western Bus-Way the urban Auckland population plus Pukekohe should be within 10-15 minutes of a rapid transit line by the end of the Auckland Plan (if not sooner).



The City Rail Link and the Auckland Transport Alignment Program (ATAP)

In September the Government finally decided that it would chip in 50% for the City Rail Link construction. Later that day the ATAP would be announced outlining major transport projects in Auckland over the next thirty years while a working group would work out the rather large $4b funding gap currently sitting there to get these projects built. That said the ATAP is being rejigged at the moment to bring some projects forward such as a busway from the Airport to Manukau via Puhnui Station to relieve traffic congestion to and from the Airport complex.


atap-major-transport-projects-by-decade-map Source:


Elections and the election of Phil Goff

October would mark the Local Government elections and again the South and West voting in Mayor Phil Goff over the Right’s Vic Crone. While I lost my own election for Papakura Local Board as well as the Manurewa-Papakura Ward losing Calum Penrose the make up of the Governing Body would firmly remain progressive under Phil Goff. Penny Hulse would no longer be Deputy Mayor (that went to Bill Cashmore) which earned the ire of the City and still simmers away. Goff would make his mark pulling Auckland Transport and ATEED into line and remind the Council Controlled Organisations that is the Governing Body that makes the calls while the CCO’s are transparent in their undertakings.

2017 will be a big year for Goff and his Committees as an Annual Plan makes its way through the system and the last remnant of the NIMBY group that we saw in February making its last pitch with them diminished as a force as Auckland continues forward into the 21st Century.



2016 was a rather large year so what will 2017 bring? Transform Manukau continues with the Framework Plan going to the Planning Committee in March. Councillors will test themselves adopting an Annual Plan while Goff continues to mould the CCO’s to his wishes. Of course we also have the big central elections next year as well. Will it be Little or English as the Prime Minister come end of 2017?


Talking Southern Auckland wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and a great Summer holiday. Posts will be on a reduced amount through until Auckland Anniversary Weekend at the end of January. Until then take care and most of all stay safe.


Side street of Porchester Road, Addison that could be dropped to 30km/h instead of 50km/h
Side street of Porchester Road, Addison