Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Wellington Super City? Not even if it’s the best idea ever.

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  • Hilary Stace,

    Thanks for explaining all this, Graeme. Have been waiting for the Wellington super city plan to be revealed - I think it has been ready for months but was held back until after the election. I remember the law change which removed the right of each region to vote for the future of their own region, and put up the 10% barrier to a referendum. I think that Chris Hipkins was one MP who fought it (not surprisingly as he is from Upper Hutt). But it was all a bit theoretical for most people to notice at the time.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Crater Christchurch....
    This Proposal for the abolition of Banks Peninsula District and its inclusion in Christchurch City: Commission's findings and decisions might be of historic interest - on a smaller scale.
    and this too
    this 'Urban Development Strategy' proposal shows - to me anyway - that plans for for developing greater Chchch don't really fit with the Banks Peninsula set up/lifestyle and geography.

    From memory we never had a say in it - The Local Govt Commission and Bob parker stitched it all up...
    well originally Chchch voters were against it, but then the Banks Peninsula Council voted itself out of existence, and about 65% of Banks peninsula residents who voted, voted for amalgamation.
    more info here
    and here

    Statistics department has some interesting things to say about 'what constitutes a city'

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    "That is not the law now. In 2012, the National Government amended this law in a couple of important ways:"

    As the National Government is wont to do....and quietly, I'll bet.

    On our travels, we get to chat with a lot of locals.

    Down in Otaki a few months ago....locals not happy about being forced into the Kapiti Coast Council....a poll had indicated most ratepayers identified more with the council to the north.

    Up in the Kaipara district....the part now under the ACC. Local contracing companies now having to sit idle as contractors from South Auckland roll into town to do Council work that was formally the local's bread and butter.

    This is democracy?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    I can see a potential Thatcher vs Livingstone-type stoush in the works...

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Ian Tinkler,

    As said above, Christchurch City residents did not vote for amalgamation. Bob Parker found a loop hole (after the initial proposal was rejected) that meant rural BP became part of urban CCC.
    That union still makes no sense. Masterton being part of Wellington make no sense either

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2010 • 16 posts Report

  • Keir Leslie,

    God that might have been the worse decision ever made in the CCC area - imagine if no amalgamation, no Bob Parker, no underfunded rural area to maintain, no Tony Maryatt! If only if only.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,


    I'm sure the most financially efficient arrangement would be to abolish all local councils and have a Ministry of Local Services run it all.

    But we have local councils because the attitudes of people in Wellington City are different to those in Eketahuna.

    (I'd actually favour a smaller council that covers the CBD and inner suburbs. Why is Tawa part of Wellington, it's a suburb of Porirua? Also, no more directly elected mayor - a leader elected by a majority of councillors. But that's by the way).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Sustainable urban planning encompasses a city's surrounding catchments for water and food prpduction (much to the dismay of Rodney, Papakura and Franklin in the Auckland amalgmation). Transport and other significant infrastructure spans localities.

    Places like Paekakariki, Wainuiomata and Featherson need to push for genuine local board influence in the new structure to avoid what Auckland is experiencing. But good luck seceding if the powers that be have decided on a regional future for you all. That vote sailed a couple of months ago.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Local contracing companies now having to sit idle

    Region-wide procurement 'efficiencies' and opportunities for privatisation were what first attracted the interest of Hide and his fellow travellers in the Nats (and their drooling associates in the Taxpayers Onion).

    Regional economic development is not a notion they care for. The market will provide replacement jobs, naturally.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Why is Tawa part of Wellington, it’s a suburb of Porirua?

    I believe that goes back to the '89 local government reforms.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Looks like garden variety racism to me, tbh.

    Also: NZ needs strong regional governance structures and it needs small responsive local structures. It's struggled to find a balance to date and the poverty of the official debate on the issue makes me doubt it will ever get there.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report

  • Ian Tinkler, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    We cannot blame Tony Maryatt on Parker. He was appointed under Moore

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2010 • 16 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    What were they saying about zombie towns?

    This is how the decline begins.

    Destroy autonomy and identity, undermine local community leaders....lambasting them for their inability to change....because of course...all change is good.

    So....the crew that maintained the roads for the local council, who did not get a look in when the new Council was hiring....I suppose they can retrain as baristas and serve coffee to the city slickers when they venture forth to survey the fringes of their expanded domain?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    I hear they're hiring columnists..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody,

    I’m not sure what the recommendation here is. Is it, vote ‘no’ in the referendum (regardless of what might be the merits of the proposal), or don’t exercise a vote at all (that is, abstain)?

    If one agrees in principle that the legislation itself is bad – then I’d assume the best thing to do would be to participate in the referendum by casting a ‘no’ vote – as that has a better chance of thwarting the intent of the legislation (the intent of the legislation being to improve the chances of amalgamation by allowing for a tyranny of the region-wide majority type scenario).

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • william blake,

    Bob Harvey spun the spin that became Eco City and West Aucklanders loved him for it but his inability to work with the mayoral forum ( read, John Banks ) moved him to suggest a greater Auckland Council with himself as The Lord Mayor. We love Bob and he would have been our Boris Johnson but the flip side of the super city is contained in its architect, Rodney Hide. The super city is good for business and mainly central business, at the expense of other values, Eco City is turning into weed city etc.

    The Eco City should have stood as an example for the other Councils to match rather than being binned in an effort to improve the greater good.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Hebe,

    Interesting piece thank you. The Christchurch-Banks Peninsula merger was much different to the Wellington plan. The Peninsula is a thinly populated, spread out area with difficult terrain and small settlements, and a low rate take compared with the needs of its settled areas. BPC was on the verge of selling off all its assets to fund a very few years’ maintenance and repair of essential services.

    The choice for Christchurch city was unpalatable either way: that BPC staggered on and sold its assets (right down to parks) to keep going and went bankrupt within a decade regardless. That would inevitably have forced the merger with Christchurch, regardless of anyone’s wishes. Christchurch would have gained a bankrupt Banks Peninsula with years of neglected maintenance and no assets: a financial black hole for decades.

    The other choice, which no-one wanted least of all CCC or the residents of both councils, was to merge while BPC was still a going entity and try to do the work.

    The local representation and decision-making process post-merger has been a severe disappointment to me and many others. Tony Marryatt was actively against Community Boards (and any other form of democracy) having any real influence in the CCC processes, and the set-up was silo'd accordingly.

    I believe the Dalziel council is changing that to some degree, but to me a tiny Community Board and one city councillor is not proper representation for the BPC.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to william blake,

    his inability to work with the mayoral forum ( read, John Banks )

    most would reverse your clause - was not just Harvey who had trouble with Banks.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    a tiny Community Board and one city councillor is not proper representation for the BPC

    compared with other suburbs/wards, that’s over-representation

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Keir Leslie,

    Banks Peninsula has two community boards, no? Lyttelton/Mt Herbert and Akaroa-Wairewa.

    Oh well: Christchurch should have twice as many councillors as it currently does, and probably half as many community board members, given the unwillingness to give them any real power.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    You're right. Whatever it's tiny rep for such a diverse and spread-out area.

    The "board-of directors" CCC structure is flawed. My local councillors (in the city) are near invisible: I'm sure they do important works, but they are not easily accessible. Clinics at the library on Saturday mornings each week? Won't happen.

    The Community Board, subterranean: the local media don't deem it worthy of reporting ever yet supposedly our neighbourhood decisions are made there.

    The disconnect between the council and public deepens every month, and they wonder why. Face-time is the answer; not the token turn-up-for-the-fair but real opportunities for residents to interact with the council decision-makers. Marryatt was also against that in any shape or form.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Keir Leslie,

    There's a governance review for CCC this year (well, this year coming.) Hopefully some of these issues can be dealt with then.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report

  • Steve Curtis,

    As for the changes to the way the referendums were taken so that instead of a majority in each area, it only requires an majority overall.

    Could that be related to this in 2012:

    The bid to amalgamate the Nelson and Tasman councils has failed, based on a progress result issued at 1pm today, despite a strong level of support from Nelson city. More were against the idea in Tasman.

    Its not who votes that count, its who counts the vote- Stalin

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Hebe,

    BPC wasn't doing well - but many of its problems related to endless and ever-increasing bureaucratic demands from central govt. Eg the BP district plan of 1998 was one of the toughest on development in NZ, on the back of various consultants' reading of the RMA. That took 10 years to unravel, a mountain of paper, and massive cost in $ and goodwill.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen,

    There is a conflict here.

    Yes local issues should be decided by local representatives. Makes perfect sense.

    But that assumes the representatives on the local councils are competent. And also assumes those same representatives are not corrupt.

    Sadly given the number of councils and hence the large number of said representatives those two assumptions are highly likely to be false.

    But if you amalgamate you need fewer representatives, so you have a better chance of finding competent people to fill those roles.

    However, should you be so unlucky as to then fill one of those roles with an incompetent and/or corrupt representative then they can do considerably more damage to a larger number of people.

    Given that fundamental conflict I don't see that worrying about dictatorship by the majority is a big issue here. It may not be particularly fair for one region to take over another but that has little bearing on whether it is a good thing to happen. Whether it turns out to be good is entirely dependent on the quality of the representatives.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

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