Speech from Chair at the Inaugural Meeting of the Albert-Eden Local Board, 6 November 2013, Raye Freedman Centre
E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e rau rangatira mā o ngā hau e whā, tēnā koutou katoa.
Greetings, on behalf of the Board, to our distinguished guests. Thank you Dr Blakeley for officiating again.
Greetings and congratulations to our returning ward councillors Dr Cathy Casey and Hon Chris Fletcher. We look forward to continuing to work alongside you on the issues of local and regional concern to Albert-Eden over the next 3 years.
We must acknowledge…
Former Auckland City Councillors Maire Leadbeater and Richard Northey; members of other local boards, including the chairs of the Waitemata and Puketapapa Boards, Shale Chambers and Julie Fairey.
Welcome to the friends and family of our board members. Thank you for your support in getting us here tonight. Thank you for your patience and forbearance over the past 3 years and, in advance, for your continuing support, as our work on the Board makes its inevitable demands on our attention and time.
Last but not least, welcome to all those interested residents and business people of Albert-Eden. In this day and age, you are to be commended for your interest in civic affairs. The last 3 years has taught us to cherish those who engage with the Local Board, because your interest is not to be taken for granted.
Three years ago I began my inaugural address with a short tauparapara that, for me, captured the moment. It referred to the dawn and a new day breaking, and that seemed apt for our new super city and the inaugural meeting of the Albert-Eden Local Board. It referred also to a bird singing, and that summed up for me the palpable excitement and hope and goodwill that marked that time. It seemed an historic moment, and so it was.
It’s worth reflecting for a moment on what has happened since then before turning our gaze to this coming term.
Three years ago, few people had much of an idea what lay ahead. It turned out to be quite a journey. Together with the Governing Body, the local boards laid the foundations for the new super city Council. This involved an enormous amount of work as an unprecedented amount of consultation took place over where we wanted to go over the next 30 years—the Auckland Plan—how we wanted to finance that over the next ten years—the Long-term Plan—and how we would regulate the growth in population over the long-term—the Unitary Plan.
There were myriad other plans, policies, protocols and bylaws, not to mention our own annual agreements and local board plan that we also helped develop, consulted on, or provided feedback on. This all took up an enormous amount of time.
One of the greatest achievements of Council in the first term was that the whole venture didn’t collapse in on itself. There was as much confusion and last minute rejigging of the cast and the script as on any first-night production. Remarkably, there was very little evidence of this out the front. For this we have not just the CEO Doug Mackay and his senior management team to thank, but the many staff who soldiered on regardless.
We don’t often get the opportunity to thank those we work with, so I’d like to take the opportunity to thank them now. It would take too long to mention everyone, but they range from those wonderful ever-helpful people who staff our three community libraries; to those who tend our parks; to those who arrange our events; and to those who work with us on community, arts, heritage and environmental issues. And many more.
We have also enjoyed good relationships with those who liaise with us for the CCOs, not least Auckland Transport. Then there are the many people in official organisations such as the Police, or community organisations such as the YMCA. Lastly, we must acknowledge our own local board staff. Since the outset, we have been blessed with very capable, hard-working, and loyal staff. I’m very pleased to see so many of them here tonight.
I’ve been very proud of what my Board has achieved over the past three years in challenging times. I’m particularly pleased that we were able to put our political differences aside and work together for the good of the community, all of us.
Other Board members will have their own highlights, but I’ve been delighted at how we’ve improved our parks, especially for young families. Highlights include the pontoons at Point Chevalier beach, the Kingsland skatepark and, closest to my heart, the splashpad at Potters Park currently under construction. I can’t wait to take my own two year-old down to play amidst the fountains, showers and sprays with a host of other kiddies on Saturday 14 December. I hope you’ll all join us for a fun day.
[I feel great satisfaction at the work I’ve done with Graeme Easte to enhance our environment. The Board has funded work to restore our lava rock forests in Epsom and Oakley Creek and our coastline, and helped as never before the volunteers who toil in the Meola and Oakley Creeks and on Maungawhau cone.
We’ve developed a virtual Sustainability Resource Centre and hope to have a resource recovery centre established in our area shortly. We’ve hosted a variety of sustainability workshops and supported transition town groups and community gardens, and look forward to supporting Auckland’s first “Sustainability Street” next year.
Close to my heart is our built and natural heritage. I lobbied hard for local boards to have a role in resource consenting, especially in order to protect the character housing that defines our area. I also lobbied for the volcanic viewshafts to be scheduled immediately; the planners wanted to delay this, while pointing out the need to ensure “flexibility” for developers. We won that one too.]*
One thing I’m proud of is that we managed to achieve so much on the smell of an oily rag. The Board consistently ran in the lowest per capita gross operating expenditure last term. I’m determined to keep managing the Board’s resources carefully. I know that the whole Board supports this approach. We make every cent count, and it often requires us to box clever to do what we want.
The fight for fairness in funding is the issue for local boards in the former Auckland City Council area, over the coming term. I’m determined to get equitable funding for local boards, and trust that I have the support of our ward councillors in this.
Over the past three years then, we have built the networks of relationships and understandings that will stand us in good stead as we seek to move the Board’s work up another notch. We have also made some headway in laying the foundations in terms of plans and policies for ongoing work and new initiatives.
Examples of the latter include the Board’s Greenways Plan, which is now fully developed and which we are looking at ways to implement.
We are in the process of planning for replacement community facilities in Point Chevalier.
These two initiatives, along with any heritage assessment work that we fund, will require change in our annual budget from that in the Board’s Local Board Plan; we will be asking for feedback on these proposals shortly, so please tell us what you think in the months ahead.
We have a Public Art Framework and look forward to seeing significant developments in the near future. We hope to have the first semi-permanent art installations up in Dominion Rd before roadworks start, and work is underway for the Billy Apple Artwork Walk.
A very large task this term will be completing the Mt Albert Town Centre Renewal. We were delighted with the train station upgrade to date, having played a big part in its design, and then we recently received confirmation that we have the long-term lease on the carpark, which will become a town square.
Which brings me to a key activity for the Board—consultation. We are the chief conduit between you and the Council; and we value what you have to say.
Over the past three years, then, we have consulted with Albert-Eden people more than they have ever been consulted before. That’s a challenge in an era of declining political participation in the established democratic world.
We may have been more successful than in previous times, but we need to connect with even more of our people and more of our communities. So we will continue looking at novel and innovative ways to engage with Albert-Eden people, to supplement the tradition approaches. We are listening.
The past three years have been humbling, exciting, fulfilling, and (sometimes, it is true) frustrating. Most of all, they’ve been inspiring. So on behalf of the Board, thank you for electing us to work to create a safer, healthier, more prosperous, better connected and more vibrant Albert-Eden. We undertake to do so to the best of our ability, and look forward to your continuing support in return.
Kia ora tatou. Thank you.