Community consultation Pasifika Deborah YatesDeborah Yates, Waitemata Local Board member reflects on her first 6 months as an elected representative

It’s been interesting, and at times overwhelming, to discover just how much there is to learn in this role. One needs:

  • a clear picture of the structure and processes of Auckland Council
  • to meet and remember both elected members and Council staff amounting to probably hundreds already
  • to appreciate the issues involved in running this juggernaut
  • to develop one’s own analysis of what’s really going on at both maxi and mini levels
  • to manage one’s time and self in a myriad of different situations

These are perhaps the more obvious ones that I’ve recognised to date. I’ve got another 2½ years to spot the others and wrestle them all, hopefully, into some sort of rational grasp of the situation.

So to date I’ve been focused on getting to all the meetings, workshops, tours and events.  This means listening, observing, recording, talking increasingly to people who resonate with me and picking my interests and battles one by one.  Most, though not all, come from within my portfolio areas of natural environment and community development.

What I enjoy most is the contact with the public. That started with door-knocking during the election and has continued with public meetings, engagement sessions re local board and precinct planning and taking part in local community developments.

One thing that I’m noting about the public is that those who are not well connected with the Council, i.e. the vast majority, have only a very hazy idea of what the Council is all about – pretty much where I was 6 to 12 months ago. It’s not as if the information is hard to come by (see the Auckland Council website ) but it’s more likely that people feel powerless and disengaged and most therefore don’t bother to try.

But when they do, look out! The Unitary Plan and a number of other pertinent issues are seeing new groups and individuals in the local community overcoming these barriers and turning themselves into voices to be listened to. Bring it on!

Deborah Yates

Waitemata Local Board