Muldoon Would Be Proud (or Would He?)

CERA to take control of Christchurch CBD rebuild – Brownlee | The National Business Review.


I was reading this during my lunch break as well as THIS, THIS, AND THIS from various over sources over Central Government “taking over” the rebuild of Christchurch.

Quoting from the NBR (honestly they had the best description of it):

BUSINESSDESK: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has directed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to set up a new unit tasked with implementing the Christchurch CBD rebuild plan. The Christchurch Central Development Unit has 100 days to come up with a blueprint that will deliver on Christchurch City Council’s draft plan to rebuild the city’s central business district, Brownlee told an audience in Christchurch today

After reading the respective articles, one would think the late former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon (also of National Party and Government) had come back from the grave and decided to go for Think Big Mark Two (in Christchurch this time) rather than the Neo Liberal Agenda of the (former Finance Minister) Bill Birch and Ruth Richardson 1990’s era. Honestly I am rather appalled by Central Government for its Stalinist approach to the rebuild of Christchurch. The Muldoon-Brownlee Plan of Christchurch would put the ultra-lefties in Auckland Council, as well as the “interventionist”  C- Grade Auckland Plan to utter shame – ouch!

I thought National embraced Individual Choice, Freedom, and Responsibility, as well as the Neo Liberal ideology which includes LIMITED (CENTRAL) GOVERNMENT and the MARKET LEADING! It seems to me that this National Government is embracing the Neo-Conservative ideals seen in the George W. Bush era (2000-2008) of big (and expanding) intervening government, the State leading (crony-ism included) and the mantra of “Do as I say, not as I do!”

I would say for Auckland’s sake, lucky Central Government is focusing down there and not up here at the moment – although I am feeling for Christchurch a lot. Furthermore I caught this:

It also proposes a low rise skyline, with a maximum height of seven storeys.

What the hell is this and why? You can build 14-30 storey buildings in the CBD of Christchurch still and they would not fall down in earthquakes if built properly (Japan and the USA are able so why aren’t we)… Without high-rises if the market demand was high enough well where does economies of scale go you can get in a high-rise.

The more I look into Christchurch and the rebuild, the more I just want to shake my head and the ever-growing incompetency of Central Government in the entire affair. Bryce Edwards of Otago University had this to say:

Christchurch now has a new bureaucratic title to add to CERA – the latest acronym is CCDU, which stands for the Christchurch Central Development Unit within CERA, and is headed by CERA’s current general manager of operations Warwick Issacs – see: 100-day action plan for Christchurch rebuild

It seems that the final plan for Christchurch’s CBD build is still 100 days away, with the CCDU’s ‘Blueprint for Action’ being the vehicle to identify key projects and push them through using CERA’s wide-ranging powers. Mayor Bob Parker is welcoming the unit and says the government has ‘essentially accepted’ the Council’s original plan, although traffic and light rail proposals have not been included. The question will be: will the Council end up merely acting as a rubberstamp for decisions made by the CCDU? 
John Hartevelt thinks that Parker is very much in danger of living up to his ‘Sideshow Bob’ nickname:  ‘A less charitable interpretation would have Parker now officially cast as town jester – an amiable knave useful for relating with the plebs but without much of a clue or any real power’ – see: The whiff of ‘takeover’ grows. Sam Sachdeva also reports that Council chief executive Tony Marryatt is still using his pay increase as leverage over the councilors – see: Payback awaits observer’s exit


Now this is enough to make your heart really sink (and Auckland, take note):

Today, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee ditched the Christchurch City Council’s recovery plan. Mayor Bob Parker put a brave face on things at the media conference today, even claiming the city plan’s “visionary” Volume 1 themes had been enshrined. The new arrangement would be a “true partnership”, he said. But the reality is that the actual proposals contained in Volume 2 have been thrown out of the recovery scenario.

Bloody hell, now that is a plan of Much-ado-about-nothing – all vision and no action or action plan even to get the rebuild rolling. Oh well there goes a few more forests on paper and pencils…
And check this out:
Mr Brownlee said volume one of the council’s Central City Plan – featuring the vision for the city centre – would be accepted in the main, but transport aspects would be “put to one side for the time being”.
Auckland syndrome here we come (for Christchurch), build the transport system last rather than together (with the urban development) and end up with what Auckland has now with a transit network deficit…
So it seems Tokenism and Much-Ado-About-Nothing seems to be alive and well down south 😦 – something Muldoon would have been disgusted of – least the man was man of action (whether you agree or not is something else) rather than words as we currently see.
And if you are wondering do I have a plan – the answer is yes and its right HERE, just translate it for Christchurch!
Oh for Auckland you might want to pay attention:
But the reality is that the actual proposals contained in Volume 2 have been thrown out of the recovery scenario. They included the mayor’s pet light rail project that would have soaked up $500m of the $2 billion recovery plan.
Watch-out, Brownlee could throw out the CRL in its entirety.

And Something Got Omitted from the Draft Long Term Plan

Worn-out roof gives city a $10m surprise – National – NZ Herald News.


Scratch one Council funded $20m Cruise Ship Terminal down at Queen’s Wharf. It seems the roof at the Auckland Council run Aotea Centre (our already public convention centre) needs to be replaced at a cool price tag of $10 million – ouch.

So be it, the Centre is a well used facilitate despite a rough life since it was born in 1990:

More than $30 million has been spent in the past 10 years on upgrading the arts, entertainment and convention centre, which opened in 1990 at a cost of $128.5 million. Two years ago, $10 million was spent on a facelift for the public stairs in the front of the centre. Another $45 million was spent on fixing the leaky Aotea carpark roof, and $25 million on upgrading Aotea Square. Engineering consultancy Stephenson and Turner is investigating the Aotea Centre roof after a quantity surveyor last year said it would cost $10 million to repair.

However what has got my attention (replacing the roof is ho-hum day-job stuff that I would sign off as luxury items like Cruise Terminals would be delayed) is this piece that Orakei Local Board Chair Desley Simpson also picked up on and was not happy with:

Council chief finance officer Andrew McKenzie said the council had been warned by Regional Facilities Auckland last year that the roof might need replacing sooner than had been planned – although both parties have kept quiet on the issue.

Known for a year and yet not mentioned in the Draft Long Term Plan that we all just submitted on. Auckland Council what is going on here? If you guys knew, why was it not  mentioned and put forward in the Draft Long Term Plan (our primary Fiscal Budget document and instrument) for us to be aware of and consider? Having the Aotea roof repairs in the LTP document would be more palatable to ratepayers than what we get surprised with now. As a ratepayer I do not like those kind of surprises at all and I bet others do not.

Right, lets get the roof repaired. I already have a plan for the Cruise Ship Terminal and if done properly (this post HERE could say other wise historically for Auckland) would cost the ratepayer next to nothing. So where next Auckland?

Chinese Help for Auckland?

Chinese keen to fund projects: Brown |


The Delegation to China led by Mayor Len Brown has been apparently productive in most regards.

Brown is half-way through the council’s first trade mission as a supercity and the delegation to China includes 28 Auckland companies covering five sectors. The priority goals for the trip were building business networks the companies couldn’t access on their own and to strengthen Auckland’s sister city relationships with Guangzhou, Qingdao and Ningbo. But the council has also been touting for interest in three of its major projects: the inner-city rail link that central government has rejected funding; a second harbour crossing; and for the new innovation precinct in the Wynyard Quarter on Auckland’s waterfront. The council will also seek private sector funding in Wynyard Quarter for a new super yacht facility, a five-star hotel with office and retail space next to the Viaduct Events Centre, and residential development. Private sector investment in Wynyard Quarter alone is expected to grow dramatically in the next 10 years from $600 million in 2017 to $1.1 billion by 2022.

Busy Mayor touting for overseas funding for some of our larger “mega-projects” that Auckland can not alone afford and Central Government is unwilling to stump up for.

Given public controversy over a Chinese company bidding for ownership of the Crafar farms, the council delegates have stressed at investment seminars they’ve staged in Guangzhou and Qingdao so far that land ownership will remain with the council and any deals involving land will be leasehold only.

Auckland councillor Mike Lee said last week it was a disgrace the council had to go overseas to look for funding. But Brown said if Auckland wants a progressive city it had to be prepared to take on global partners.

“We were always only going to get part of the funding from central government. The old days of central government anteing up with all the funds is just not going to be repeated, particularly with the government needing to look after Christchurch and the damage there. We have to think outside the square.”

Ditto Mayor, especially to Mike Lee’s wee moment there. Times change and the City needs to go with that change, not act as a dinosaur that some might be trapped in their thinking. Any case it has been happening for a while anyway.

Although this bit caught my attention:

The first project off the block will be the $2.4b rail loop and Brown favours a public private partnership (PPP) deal over borrowing, issuing infrastructure bonds, or raising rates and taxes to fund it.

Now that is news to me and probably a few others. Last I heard it was a split between Local and Central Government in its entirety using instruments such as: bonds, borrowing, raising rates and taxes to fund it. Well that is what The Auckland Plan and Draft Long Term Plan said. Errr any chance of some consultation on this and ANY REASON WHY this was not mentioned in planning documents that we just submitted on? Oh well when the CRL (that is for our friends at Transport Blog – City Rail LINK) first came out I was for a 33:33:34 split between local government, central government and a private sector group so least I could be happy a PPP is being looked at for the CRL.

So the delegation could bring back some fruits for Auckland – although whether they are the Green or the Red Fruits (as in Snow White) brought back is yet to be seen.

Just two notes though before I sign off:


But the council has also been touting for interest in three of its major projects: the inner-city rail link that central government has rejected funding; a second harbour crossing; and for the new innovation precinct in the Wynyard Quarter on Auckland’s waterfront.

I thought there was meant to be already one on Tamaki – or was that and the one proposed in Wynyard another half-baked and cocked (flushing money and time down the loo) idea of some City Dreamers again


Seems Cameron Brewer might have some stiff competition from Mayor Brown if our mayor proves to be a Closet Centre Right mayor? And yes I hear the Prude jokes coming.


Missing South-to-Papakura Rail Link

Mayor wants missing rail link built ‘sooner rather than later’ – National – NZ Herald News.

Seems the NZ Herald has picked up on the Manukau Line – and today was only day two of “full” services (or day one for weekday).

Tough questions need to be asked to Auckland Council (not AT on this one as even they are head scratching like the rest of us) especially when the mayor says this:

Mayor Len Brown has promised southern councillors he will do “yeoman’s work” to ensure the link is provided sooner rather than later. Until then, passengers wanting to go south from Manukau on the new line will have to travel north to Puhinui and wait for southbound trains. Although much of the 2km line has duplicate tracks, they go only north towards Britomart when they link up with the main trunk at Wiri. That is unacceptable to Papakura councillor Calum Penrose, who says southern residents are in serious need of better public transport to improve job and training opportunities. Mr Penrose was heartened when Mayor Brown told him and Manurewa councillor Sir John Walker that KiwiRail believed a southern link could be provided for $5-6 million.

But yet we have this:

KiwiRail would not discuss prospects for a southern link or confirm a suggestion that Ports of Auckland‘s new railhead at Wiri may be in the way. Infrastructure and engineering general manager Rick van Barneveld said it had not received a proposal from Auckland Transport to build such a link.

Despite the mayor’s promise, Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said no provision for a southern link was being included in a network plan under development by her council-owned organisation.

So hello what is going on here folks?

Mr Wood is also concerned that the new Manukau railway station ends in a trench “in no-man’s land”, 400m short of the bustling Westfield shopping mall.

Already commented on it HERE and at Transport Blog, especially when a prime redevelopment opportunity was missed (again)

VOAKL calls on Councillors to ask the tough questions here – were we short-changed or what?

|VOAKL – Looking at PLANNING ISSUES In Auckland (from an average ratepayer’s view)|

C- Grade Plan Blurs Vision of The City

Herald on Sunday editorial: Compact city a blurred vision – Opinion – NZ Herald News.


The Herald on Sunday ran a tabloid version of what the NBR covered more “in-depth” in regards to Housing Affordability and the Compact City in Auckland. Titled (from NBR): ‘Housing crisis needs action not tinkering – commission‘, and a guest piece titled ‘How housing can be more affordable;’ the contributions look at why housing affordability is out if reach, why the Compact City is a joke, and to their credit – ideas on how to get on top of this problem.

I commend the Productivity Commission and their Chairman to step up and contribute their ideas to the public realm. Their ideas in a nutshell were:

Productivty Commission key findings

  • Home ownership peaked at 75% in the early 1990s but has declined to 65%
  • An immediate release of land for residential development would reduce pressure on prices
  • Tax policy had little to do with the recent housing boom
  • Auckland’s metropolitan urban limit is driving up land costs to 60% of the cost of a new home compared with 40% in other urban centres
  • Council height controls, boundary setbacks and minimum lot sizes are frustrating high-density housing developments
  • High section prices explain why new housing is concentrated at the top end – who is going to put a $150,000 home on a $300,000 section?The quality of rental housing is generally low but becoming increasingly expensive
  • Social housing policies lack cohesion and have shifted from addressing income issues, to complex social issues
  • Safe, comfortable and stable housing is important for social cohesion, family stability and individual wellbeing

I will have the full report embedded below – heads up its 342 pages long!

As for the Herald itself, lightweight but it expected. I will let you read it for yourself – should take a few minutes at most (time for the kettle to boil). As for why I call The Auckland Plan “C-” grade, you can read that HERE.

Now I do have ideas/policy platform suggestions of my own.

The main one can be found in my submission to The Draft Auckland Plan (now finalised and adopted) in regards to land use and supplemented with transport follow ups. Others can be found through coverage of Port of Auckland and The Auckland Water-Frontier (to which I will re-do (including links) the Port of Auckland Index over the coming week), my submission to the Draft Long Term Plan, and my logic and vision posts done just recently.

Just remember, ideas and solutions are fluid as the environment challenges changes are constant – so I do change my ideas to adapt to the environment challenges. 

The Productivity Commission Findings into Housing Affordability

Auckland – Past Thinking or Future Thinking

Cities Matter: From Connection to Dispersal: Urbanisation in the 21st Century.

Saw the above hyper-linked post in my feed this morning from .

Lets take a look at this by subsection shall we?

Connectedness and concentration

Connectedness is a mantra for the new urbanists: through  international connection cities exploit the economies assumed to arise from ever-increasing concentration of people and business. Hence, the city seeking to make its mark globally must invest in ever-increasing transport infrastructure.   Acknowledging the information age, it may add high-speed broadband to the mix and perhaps, in a symbolic move, an international convention centre.
But is this the right model for 21st century urbanisation?

Auckland is in the cusp of this at the moment with the Central Government rolling out Fast Broadband (which is useless without a second and third Pacific Link to Australia, USA, and perhaps China and Singapore) while at the same time “accommodating” Sky City to build that International Convention Centre with Mayor Len Brown supports. Fast Broadband is needed if telecommuting (as the late Owen McShane advocated for) to become a reality in Auckland, especially as we are more mobile and can do things once confined to an office – now can be done remotely. As for transport – we are a long away of to get maximum connectedness as this graphic would illustrate in a previous post.

Aviation – moving on

Think for a moment about been happened in aviation.  The last decade saw a quantum shift from a model whereby a few powerful hubs concentrated movement between a few major centres from which passengers and goods could, in turn, be distributed along local spokes – by regional aircraft, train, coach or car.  Airlines based themselves overwhelmingly at these hubs.  The large, twin isle jet reigned supreme.  The Airbus A380 is the latest conveyor of that model, but most likely the last.
Because late in the 20th century there was a divergence between an ageing hub and spoke model and a growing model based on  dense networks connecting more and more cities directly. The single aisle, medium-haul jet took off.  And now the long-haul, highly efficient, medium-sized jet is further expanding this capacity to directly connect former spokes – smaller cities — without the need to hub through major cities.
And all of this has been supported by the productivity leap brought about by the low-cost airline model.  More people, more cities, more directly connected than ever before with the capacity to transform economic, political and social relations among them.  [1]

Auckland and New Zealand is an enigma due to our geographic isolation from the world by air and sea. So unless aircraft go faster, Auckland will be the primary air-hub in and out of NZ. However the A380 could be the last (although the 747-800 is floating around as well) in which Air New Zealand has already adapted to Phil’s comment and is retiring the 747 fleet and replacing it with 777-300ER’s and the 787-9 (when it finally gets here) which is believed to have the range of Auckland to New York City non-stop on the tank of gas it has. So with the 777 and 787, Air NZ could be very well placed to connect to smaller cities and spokes as demand allows it.

From transport to logistics

The transport sector was about moving goods from A to B as cost effectively as regulation allowed; and all too often regulation kept costs up to protect old technology and incumbent operators, whether by surface, air, or sea.  That, though, is changing as international transport is liberalised.    
And today transport is itself transforming into the business of logistics.  And logistics is about distribution – through a production chain, between producers and consumers, and among places.  Goods move seamlessly  through integrated operations that can deliver almost anything almost anywhere in a matter of days.

Now this is an interesting one and something Mainfreight and Kiwi Rail could be at the forefront of in NZ. Now logistics is where Auckland can fall over with past thinking rather than future thinking. The city must do its part through an integrated inter and multi-modal transport system (that is both road and rail) that Mainfreight, Kiwi Rail and Ports of Auckland and Tauranga can adapt and use. The Metro Port facility in Southdown and Wiri Inland Port are two sites that can offer potential in seamless logistics movement. Auckland Airport also has a large logistics hub as well for air freight that could be tied in to the rail and ports system as well. Having the ports collaborate rather than compete would also be of benefit as well. Moving Port of Auckland to South East Auckland would also allow to rebuild seamless logistics operations while opening up The Auckland Water-Frontier for alternative uses. While we need to best with what we do have, that should not stop going into frontier mode and going outside the square with something new that would enhance our connectedness to the world.

An informational world

As the capacity to transport goods went up and the cost went down, academics trying to explain the differential growth of cities appealed to a new notion that dominating the exchange of information was the new key to prosperity.  Knowledge and expertise were concentrated in key informational hubs where they became the centres of capitalist power, the hearths of globalisation.  [2]
Well that’s changing, too.  Information and expertise is becoming dispersed, knowledge ubiquitous.  This is not just about the internet – although it obviously plays a huge part.  It’s also about the explosion of personal mobility as informational cities give way to an informational world.  (It may also be about the potential for implosion as a result of over-concentration, a threat still lingering in the financial centres of the world). 
Linked cities are giving way to networked communities.

Decentralisation, working by or in remote (away from the office), telecommuting. It seems Auckland Planners and Council have not cottoned onto this yet as they “plan” for the exact opposite. An example would be focus on the CBD and Britomart that Council and the bureaucracy have rather than have dual or multiple cores (CBD, Manukau, Papakura, Takapuna, New Lynn, Albany) and a transit system that is cross-city based not Britomart-based (see my link post again for more).

From consolidation …

The lesson?  Those of us involved in planning the city cannot assume the same structures will prevail in the future as those we inherited from the past.  We tend to plan, though, by looking for repeat patterns, seeking generalisation, extracting principles, predicting the unpredictable.  And because infrastructure – roads, rail, ports – are large-scale, expensive, and enduring they become the bones around which we construct our futures. 
 Infrastructure, particularly transport infrastructure, shapes our presumptions about how the city will function and the form it will take.  Hence, urban planning is preoccupied with how to consolidate  existing structures, increasing their capacity by building up rather than out and moving to mass transit, among other things.

Now this is where Auckland can get caught – let the next quote illustrate how:

… to dispersal

Yet the shifts in 21st century logistics and information technology support dispersal.  And it might just be that dispersal is the key to 21st century urbanisation. 
Light rail systems, dedicated bus lanes, smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, lower housing costs, more intimate localised but inter-connected sub-urban communities, common information and mobile expertise cutting across diverse tastes,experiences, and places  – these may be the way of the future.
In the developing world where urbanisation is most rapid they may be the only way.  Here dispersal is already the dominant reality.  While urbanisation may be exemplified in a few mega cities in Asia, these account for only a small part of the total.  And even they are marked by rapid peripheral expansion, with distinctive, sprawling, dense and diverse communities on the edge.  Democraticised, localised self-help institutions and NGOs may be the way to improved sanitation and health care in this environment, and micro-commerce the way to sustainable prosperity. 
And in the slower-growing cities of the west, the maturing of sub-urban life, a return to lifestyle-focused localism, ageing in place, and the growing importance of community-based care point to a future in which dispersal rather than concentration could be the dominant mode of social and spatial organisation.  Central structures may still have a role, but a diminishing one.
More generally we may have to think of cities themselves as comprising networks of connections, within and across boundaries.  The stronger these networks, perhaps, the  more resilient the city.  But this does not translate to physical density.  Proximity is not the issue. Well connected, dense networks will support, if not encourage, dispersal. 
This is contrary to the currently favoured model in places like my city of origin – Auckland – but it is not at all contrary to the centre within that city that I call home.

And this is where the crux of the argument is. Phil has hit the nail square on the head and is something the late Owen McShane also advocated for. It is also the reason why I gave the Auckland Plan a C- grade and advocated for something rather different in my primary submission than what the final version of The Auckland Plan currently contains. This is most likely as I see Auckland as interconnected villages with a (at the moment) dual Cores (CBD and Manukau (to a lesser extent)) and is the reason why via the CMCP and SLPD’s I had a decentralised system based around (at the moment) two cores (again CBD and Manukau) with the possibility of three more cores (Papakura, New Lynn and Takapuna) with a transit system to match it (through both the car/truck and train/bus). I have long recognised this and high cross city movements which can be first seen in my works when I wrote a report on Tamaki. Oh and Auckland is also my home as well 🙂

Getting it wrong

More than ever as we try to plan for the very long-term, we need to open our minds to alternatives.   You only need to look at the list of bankrupt airlines (or in and out of Chapter 11 in the US) to appreciate the consequences of overinvestment in the current model on the assumption that it will prevail indefinitely.

And this is where Auckland currently sits – over-investing in a past antiquated model rather than the future model Phil has mentioned above and I advocate for. Essentially Auckland again are interdependent villages built around two cores that specialise in certain goods and services production/consumption. We need to recognise and embrace that interdependent village model we already have and build upon it to take Auckland effectively out of 1950 and into the Twenty-First Century and beyond. 

Let’s not get caught in past thinking, lets embrace forward and STRAIGHT THINKING!

Well done Phil for a brilliant post.

Education and Me

Tertiary Education – Merits or Costly Exercise?

I read two brilliant pieces on tertiary education at New Geography this morning over breakfast and coffee. TitledTHE RIGHT STEPS TO A POST-COLLEGE JOB andTHE THREE LAWS OF FUTURE EMPLOYMENT;” the articles take a look a liberal art degrees (Bachelor of Arts in New Zealand) and future employment and who is most likely to do well ALL ROUND (money is not every thing as an example I will give later on).

I encourage reading the articles first before progressing on!

Effectively the articles look at the STEM Degrees (science, technology, engineering, and math) versus those you find in a Bachelor of Arts degree and goes through the tired old debate on which is worth more, who is needed more and we should be dropping Arts for STEM’s.

Well the two articles would say other wise and at the end of the day I would agree with the two articles (you read them yet?).

Why – because I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Auckland and found it to be very rewarding as a degree.

2006 I started my university life at the University of Auckland (after a two-year effective gap between high school and university) as a Bachelor of Science student planning to major out in Geography. However by 2009 when I finished undergraduate and graduated out in 2010 I switched over to Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Geography and Political Studies, with an effective Minor (had enough Stage Three papers) in Social Anthropology. 2010 I began my Masters of Planning Practice only to “suspend” (later “drop out”) those studies at the end of 2010 (was a two-year course and this May I should have graduated with a Masters Degree) and begin my work career proper after 10 rewarding years with McDonald’s earning the rank of Swing Manager before leaving.

So a Bachelor of Arts with a Double Major in Geography and Politics and some strong grounding in Social Anthropology – some people will think what was I thinking.

Quite clearly actually with the world going from boom to turmoil during my time at university and things becoming rather uncertain for some.

While under taking my tertiary education, I made sure I had kept my papers balanced in the following ways:


With my BA the Geography side was in Human Geography however; I took Physical Geography to Stage Two (which gave me the privilege of being taught by the best Climate Academic this country had to offer – Associate Professor Chris de Fretius)  , GIS to Stage Two, and Environment Management to Stage Three. Stage Three Human Geography was also where “research methods” was also taught.

Political Studies

Political Studies I went two one primary path but had other strands going as well. The primary path was New Zealand Politics (instead of International Relations) with the other strands in: Public Policy, Liberal Theory and Political Marketing (the art of bull shitting convincingly). I must say while studying politics I was often the lone voice of the Centre-Right in class (National would come to power in 2008) but did recruit some over to the Centre-Right cause – so double yay for me 🙂  !

Social Anthropology

Was recommended this as doing it as a filler at Stage One by a friend, but at the end I went all the way to complete Stage Three papers in Social Anthropology and dang that strand was the biggest eye opener to the World and thinking outside of the Western-Universalism realm. Social Anthropology was my “International Relations” strand on seeing cultures past and present interacting in an ever globalised world. Social anthropology gave me the tools to see the world in a wider view and see the Diaspora of all the people and cultures out there. You could say Social Anthropology could be a key weapon against racism and oppression in its tools that help one see a wider world in the modern age. Well worth the time taking Social Anthropology and a great recommendation from my friend.

Other Papers

I had several other papers under my belt by the time I finished my Bachelor of Arts, they included:

  • Geology
  • Law
  • History
  • Science General (communications)
  • Statistics

Talk about a wide-array of subjects, to which all mashed together gave me my Bachelor of Arts and a very well-rounded education and skills set that was to complement my work skills at McDonald’s.

Masters of Planning Practice

To be honest – hated it and what was taught in all but two papers. Looking through the papers I saw all this will give me is a piece of paper to go work for Auckland Council signing resource consents so you can go build your second toilet. Either that or go contribute to the very problem we have in Planning in Auckland that has led to the housing affordability amongst other messes we have and need to be dealt to; simply put what the academics were teaching went against my ideals. Seeing nothing that could be “value-added” from the Masters degree, I would drop out and begin my new career (also having just been recently married in 2009) and self learning path. Now to be fair there was two papers I absolutely enjoyed (they were also the two papers I got an A- and A+ in as well) and enjoyed the academics who took them. They would be the Urban Design papers to which my work can be seen with Wynyard Quarter and Tamaki. Those two urban design papers taught me a lot of skills and knowledge that I use with my BA and work-skills bases to do things you see here in VOAKL – that being able to comment on Planning Issues in Auckland and present some credible and viable realistic AND/OR visionary ideas in making a better Auckland. My two urban design academics said my work while controversial was BOLD and OUTSIDE THE SQUARE in thinking to which Auckland needs. I also could hold myself in a hostile debate with former class mates who would follow the current planning grain Auckland is stuck with (to which that and my work on Wynyard and Tamaki would be used in Submissions to Auckland Council when the Draft Auckland Plan was up for consultation).

Ok my urban design work on Google Sketch Up is rudimentary, I am however not an architect.  I present the base work for the idea while an architect would then work on the finer micro-detail, but with my base work as seen with Wynyard Quarter and Tamaki you can see visually what I am trying to get across in my ideas. Over time I will refine my Google Sketch Up and Draughtsperson Skills as I always love self learning new things but at the moment I think I can out do some often bad mock ups the professionals present to the public on some Auckland Council schemes 😉 .


At the end of all this what do I have, well for starters I am well equipped to handle these four situations:

  1. Globalization means that problems (climate change, human rights, etc.) that once were local become global.
  2. Governments, NGOs, and the United Nations, along with multinational corporations, will all take steps to address these pressing concerns.
  3. Students majoring in the liberal arts will increasingly find jobs managing global polity.
  4. Thus students who understand culture, politics, people, language, and science will be in demand.

As for the three laws and career I think I follow these pretty well – VOAKL and work are a testament to both. The quote below is a brilliant piece of advice as well so read and take it on board in nothing else:

The bottom line is that today’s young people need to develop an individually unique set of marketable skills for tomorrow’s job market. A marketable skill is more than an education (which is not a skill), and also more than just job training (a skill, but no larger expertise). The useful benchmark is it takes 10,000 hours to become expert in something


True expertise, by contrast, is something self-generated, following your own passion and talents. This isn’t to say education is always a waste of time, but it will no longer be sufficient to build a career.

So here is my career advice to today’s students:

  • If you passionately like something and are good at it, then do that. STEM, for example, will always have a place for smart, hardworking people. Likewise, good writing can’t be computerized, but you need both talent and passion to be successful.
  • Start work on the 10,000 hours. Your education may help, but very little you do in school contributes to the total. Be it car detailing, truck driving, computer programming, drawing, writing – acquire an expert skill in something. Write a novel.
  • Empathize if you can. Computers can’t do that. Jobs that involve empathy (along with other skills) will always be in demand.
  • If you got it, flaunt it. That’s something else computers can’t do. Beauty has value, especially for women but also for men. This is wonderfully described in Catherine Hakim’s book, Erotic Capital. Even if you don’t got it, take advantage of youth. Acquire a fashion sense, take care of yourself, look as good as you can.

If you are wondering where things have gotten me since I left high school (as a Year 13 Bursary Graduate) in 2003 here it is (not all attributed to University or Education)

  • Two years in Australia giving me a break and maturity to deal with the next phase of life
  • Attained the rank of Swing Manager at McDonald’s before joining the current company I worked for (so learnt customer service, management and operations skills)
  • Gained a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland with the papers studied giving a balanced foundational knowledge base for life ahead
  • Masters of Planning Practice – a waste except for the two Urban Design Papers which were worth their weight in Platinum
  • Now work for a company where nearly all the skills gained from the above come into play
  • Married
  • Own our first house as of New Years 2012 and will have the mortgage paid off much quicker than your standard 25 year table loan
  • Lobbying capacity and building friendships, capital and networks with Auckland Council as I take on a calling to make Auckland a better place
  • VOAKL – my voice to the world on Planning Issues that uses everything I have learnt or experienced from above
I might not be earning the money some of my friends are who graduated with STEM degrees but I do lead a happy and fulfilled life with Rebekka and am happy with where things are – I could not ask for more (except my be for a new Samsung Note Phablet 😛 ). And am well under-way earning my 10,000 hours as well 😀

So where does the future lay for me? Only one person knows that and that is Him Himself (am a practising Christian) and providing I lead by example (none of this do as I say not as I do crap), follow Him and be of sound judgement one thing I do know is that the future can only get better and brighter for the time I am here.

So where are things for you and where do you want to go? Tertiary Education is the not the end all/be all for all of us – passion, self learning, an open-mind and your 10,000 hours are !

Comments on A Proposed Transit Systmem

You Ask – I Post


Yesterday I posted on a piece of Transport Blog Brilliance (no not Maunkau) on how our mass transit system could look in 40-odd years. I also linked the post to my Facebook and “alerted” a few peeps from the Centre-Right bloc to it to gauge reaction. Seems reaction is pretty positive so long as we don’t bankrupt the city – most likely due to the proposed system has “benefits” for those of the Centre-Right with their communities (Orakei being prime example).

Well in the comments, one person said something that is worth a mention – he asked, I post so let me get the screenie for you

And here it is

So is dear old Len a prude? 😉

Transport Blog Posts Brilliance

I am Astounded with “How Aotea Station will put a Big New Beat into the Heart of Auckland

Now Patrick Reynolds and I do not often see eye to eye on some issues in relation to Auckland, but his blog post (that builds on a combination of ideas) and especially his reference to the graphic I am going to paste below is just sheer brilliance. Let me post the graphic then talk some more:

Graphic on how Auckland's Mass Transit could look by 2050


Ambitious yes, feasible – most likely over a 40 year time frame.  Now I did ask about Port of Auckland as (taking into account the Port stays where it is) as until it was cleared up I assumed heavy rail was going to be used thus conflict with freight train movements.

Now Nick R (at that blog site) who created the graphic is still working on this kind of system’s proposal so we might see some changes yet.  Although I just picked up the colour chart might be wrong – but that is ok, can correct that in later versions.

I am pondering about this graphic and the proposal in that post as it has possibilities to conflict with ideas I had including The Eastern Highway if the Port stays where it is, or the South East Rail Spoke if the port moves to the site I am proposing.

However what is there so far is enough to lobby Councillors over for the moment. Changes can be worked out post 2013 especially once we get final confirmation of the Port. As for costings – have asked for it so waiting to see what gets touted.

Just as a concluding remark, I can see the National Government opposing this with their final breath too. Oh well – cake and eat it to?

Deputy Mayor as a Moment

Productivity Commission’s report ‘ideological rubbish’ – deputy mayor | The National Business Review.


It seems the Deputy MayorPenny Hulse had a “moment” with her piece in the NBR about the Productivity Commission’s final report into Housing Affordability.


She says the commission ignored advice given to it by the council and it is clear the commission had not read the Auckland plan, which is why its findings are “ideological nonsense”.

Oh my – bit of a stern response there from our Deputy Mayor; to which actual Mayor Len Brown (who is on a Council Trip to China) said on Facebook that his Deputy Mayor was fighting the good fight. But indicative of pre-determination from our leaders without consideration, discussion and evaluation of the entire situation at hand.

Quoting again:

“There is ample room to redevelop land that gives people the chance to live near to employment, educational or lifestyle opportunities. “It is that demand, along with population growth, that is driving the market, not the cost of land at the boundaries,” she says. 

Simply put no there is not for two reasons: first being the market is intervened quite harshly so it can’t balance through the demand and supply rules; second being our highly restrictive rules. A post was done on it by Josh Arbury and was used in my submission (referenced of course) and can be read HERE.

There is a way to get some costs down and that is to liberalise the planning rules (not the Building Code) so compliance costs are not so darn high. Opening land up and allowing the market to determine better residential and employment sectors would also go along way to getting costs down.

Getting costs down is just not about land release purely; it is also about keeping compliance costs through the planning rules (and development fees) at a reasonable level, allowing the market to act more freely in determining residential and business supply/centre locations, and good governance that works in keeping costs down (not up).

With our Deputy Mayor said though has pretty much put Auckland into damnation with the current thinking in Council unable or unwilling to:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’


I leave you with my section of my submission that covered how we can do our part in restoring housing affordability (links to external articles included)