2019: An Election Year and the Year of Projects in the South. What might we face?

2019 going to be a fun year

Welcome back to another year with Talking Southern Auckland – your conversations on Southern Auckland Urban Geography and political matters.

The Tuesday after Auckland Anniversary weekend traditionally marks when Auckland is back to full power after the Summer break, although the Universities are not back until early March and we get the annual March Madness.

I hope your Summer break was a good one where ever you may have been over the period. 2019 is an election year for Auckland Council so the fun and games are about to begin (actually they are already under-way) however, there are plenty of projects to keep us busy as well.

2019 Elections

It is election year again for Auckland Council with the Mayoralty, Ward Councillor and Local Board seats all up for grabs. As usual the attention is on Mayoralty and whether Phil Goff can stave off John Tamihere and his running mate Councillor Christine Fletcher.

The TL:DR (too long, don’t/didn’t read) answer is yes as Goff would secure the West, South and Howick votes again (the three key areas to win Mayoralty). JT (as he as known as) might secure the West but even with Fletcher as his running mate would struggle with the Shore and wider Isthmus (Editorial: John Tamihere offers a shake-up to mayoralty but he could be vulnerable to attack). Fletcher also being his running mate would be a key reason why Tamihere wouldn’t even attract a glimmer of attention or my vote that went with it so all the best JT.

At Councillor level I do not expect much change nor challenge out of the Manukau Ward and even my home Ward of Manurewa-Papakura. Sir John Walker will be retiring meaning one of the Manurewa-Papakura seats will be wide open to contest alongside incumbent Daniel Newman.

At Local Board level for Papakura I am not sure which way that might swing just yet as the Local Board members are very quiet. However, that will change soon enough as the rival factions square off.

Finally looking at policy that might be contested especially at Mayoralty level? Given the Auckland and Unitary Plans are both operative and not due for review until at least 2026 so anyone going on about sprawl and intensification can go sit down and be quiet. Transport might be an interesting one but given the ATAP is live and under-way there is not much to go on there unless the Government does a massive backflip. This leaves water (an ongoing issue) and Rates to fund everything. No doubt we will have the KEEP RATES LOW screaming matches which always neglects the primary consequence of slowing down infrastructure builds. But until the turn out rate of voting increases we are going to be stuck with that yelling match in perpetuity.

Mayor Phil Goff and Minister Phil Twyford out at the Westgate Housing Development

Projects

Given Southern Auckland won the lion’s share of projects under the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) the mission is to make sure those projects are delivered. Some of those projects include:

  1. Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Stage 1 (Airport to Manukau): currently under tender with completion 2021
  2. Bus Lanes in Manukau City Centre (they started this morning)
  3. 2+1 of Redoubt Road and improvements on the Mill Road northern end: that is under Business Case development and needs a shunt along to have construction start end of this year
  4. Third Main to Wiri: lost in the works somewhere and needs to be put back on course
  5. Pukekohe Electrification: delayed due to delays of the Southern Motorway upgrade for which it is dependent on (bridges need lifting)
  6. Great South Road bus lanes: this has been merged into a super project spanning the entire Great South Road. As of now it is under tender for design and business case (or was as of late last year). Roll out will depend on Auckland Transport will power more than anything else
  7. City Centre to Mangere Light Rail might as well be considered stalled entirely with communications from NZTA on even a business case completely silent. I do have an Official Information Act request with NZTA on which end CC2M would start and that is due tomorrow. Given NZTA usually reply early with information requests them leaving it this long would suggest they are in a complete utter pickle
  8. Finally although this is not transport it is still the largest project in the South – Our Manukau. After finishing with a bang last year with land parcels going to market, and more place making happening I am due for my 6 monthly sit down with Panuku for the latest updates including Te Papa North.

No doubt there will be plenty more action as the year goes on. Talking Southern Auckland will continue coverage on those Urban Geography and political matters affecting the South.

Aerial photo of Manukau centre
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