Puketāpapa Local Board members Jon Turner and Bobby Shen report back on an eventful year.

Puketāpapa Local Board members Jon Turner and Bobby Shen

2023 started off with record-breaking rainfall in January that took a serious toll on Puketāpapa residents and wider Tāmaki Makaurau. In our area we saw many houses flooded alongside Te Auaunga, Wairaki and Te Whau or at risk from cliff fall alongside the Manukau Harbour. Our coastal pathway was devastated, with huge slips wiping out massive sections of the path – sadly, including our recently completed new pathway by Wattle Bay and our much-loved boardwalk by Taumanu Bay. Our board has supported the full funding of the Making Space for Water programme, which will help us move toward a ‘sponge city’ which will reduce flooding and also improve amenity.

A few of our highlights from the year are:

  • The completion of the Hendry Ave safe cycle route that was paid for out of the “Transport Choices” fund set up by Central Government. This was the ‘missing link’ in the connection alongside State Highway 20 which often had conflict between vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. 
  • Bobby’s long advocacy for undergrounding the power lines on Parau Street has finally paid off, with this work beginning this year. This will mean that residents are able to actually use their footpath! The undergrounding projects are run and funded by Vector and Entrust but this is only Mt Roskill’s first one in 10 years so it is great to see us get our fair share.
  • The official discovery of Copper and Ornate skinks in sections of the Manukau coastal forest as part of the Herpetofauna Survey we funded in 2022. This will lead to an increased investment in pest control in these areas. Jon was responsible for getting this project back on the work programme after it was identified as a priority back in 2013.
  • Seeing the Puketāpapa bike train rolling! This was a piece of work Jon led alongside Richard Barter and Kat Teirney to get the funding from Auckland Transport for, and which many people have been involved in the development of. Wesley Primary now regularly has 20 students cycling to school and it is being rolled out to more schools in Term 4, getting set up for next year.
  • Civil works finished in Kainga Ora’s Roskill South development, which has seen lots of new trees and plants in the ground, plenty of new infrastructure including power undergrounding, and best of all nice new footpaths to get around in. It has been a really tough time for existing residents there over the last five years.
  • Attending the opening of the new outcrop park above the Three Kings development. This is a huge project that will bring hundreds of new homes and it was a pleasure to accept the gifted Māori names for streets and parks from mana whenua. It was disappointing to have a member from C & R move a motion to not accept one of the gifted names but Bobby and Jon spoke well to the importance of having te reo in our spaces and the motion was defeated.
  • Jon was very chuffed to be re-elected as the Chair of the Manukau Harbour Forum for this council term. The work on the Forum is a highlight of being a Local Board member for me and we continue to advocate for restoration of the Harbour – a multi-generational piece of work but a vitally important one for Tāmaki Makaurau. 
  • Getting the Pōhutukawa that line Mt Albert and Mt Eden Roads around the Three Kings precinct scheduled as notable trees – protecting them in perpetuity.
  • Bobby and Jon attended the opening of 1001 Spheres, a brilliant new sculpture in Monte Cecilia Park from the regional public arts programme. It commemorates universal suffrage (right to vote) and women’s rights. It is located on the northern end of the park and has been added to the maps in the park.
  • The board has been having some success ensuring liquor store renewals adopt better conditions to reduce alcohol harm. Bobby is one of the alcohol licensing delegates for our board.
  • We welcomed having the Football Ferns based at Keith Hay Park on the Number 1 pitch for the Women’s World Cup. We were stoked to be gifted a mural by Hannah Wilkinson of the moment she scored the now legendary goal!
  • Auckland Transport funded an upgrade to what was formerly the Roskill Bike Kitchen as they included it into their “Bike Hub” network. Now open three days a week and doing a roaring trade in refurbishing bikes and helping people with their bike issues.
  • We had some good success with tree protection this year, getting the trees surrounding Three Kings Plaza and Three Kings Reserve officially scheduled, in part thanks to the hard work of Pippa Coom in the last term of council. We also successfully opposed an application to remove three trees on Pah Road from the schedule, thanks to the support of the Tree Council and hard work by Bobby in the notification process. 

There have been some difficulties this year, with Bobby and Jon having to be the dissenting voices when the board voted to oppose Māori seats for Auckland Council and refused to support safe speeds for our Local Board area. It is certainly a change from how the Puketāpapa board has previously run. Fortunately we are able to work closely with our former chair, Julie Fairey, who is working extremely hard as ward councillor for Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa. She writes regular councillor reports, attends business meetings when she can, helps residents directly and works hard to get the best for our region.

Next year looks to be a tough one for the wider Council family, with some very hard decisions to be made as part of the Long Term Plan development, particularly in the face of uncertainty around Central government funding, further extreme weather threats and ever-increasing construction costs. We may see local assets sold or mothballed to pay for other activities.

We hope all of Puketāpapa has a great holiday break, and we hope to see you out in the parks over the Summer – perhaps at our Christmas event in Three Kings Reserve this December the 10th!

Jon Turner and Bobby Shen

City Vision’s candidates for the Puketāpapa Local Board stand as Roskill Community Voice.