Ward Boundaries and Council representation for Waiheke Island

On Sunday 11th at Ostend Hall about 50 islanders met to discuss the next stage of the supercity process – The allocation of ward boundaries and our proposals for council representation. As a result of discussions at that meeting and afterwards Councillor Roche has prepared the following submission.

To: The Local Government Commission
From:  Denise Roche
Re: Ward Boundaries and Council representation for Waiheke Island

16th October 2009

Introduction

On Friday 2nd October Commissioners held an information gathering and feedback session with councillors and community board members from the Auckland City Council and elected representatives were invited to provide further written information about wards in the new Auckland Council, boundaries of those wards and local boards.

During her presentation to the commissioners Waiheke Community Board member Eileen Evans said that the first preference for Waiheke islanders is to have our own councillor on the Auckland Council.  She also said that there would be further consultation with the Waiheke community regarding the ward boundaries and issues of representation.

Consequently two articles appeared in the two local papers last week and a public meeting was held on Sunday 11th October where the 50 people who attended were invited to express their views about how Waiheke can best be represented in the new Auckland Council.

That meeting and other feedback to elected representatives by email and a one-to-one survey of over thirty local business people by community board member Eileen Evans reinforce the view that the Waiheke community wants Waiheke to be a ward in its own right within the Auckland Council and to have our own councillor at that level.

It is widely recognised that the Great Barrier community have a different view to this one and subsequently the call for a separate ward applies to Waiheke Island only.

Background

According to Department of Statistics 2008 data Waiheke has a permanent population of 8230 people.  This figure does not take into account the semi-permanent summer residents who own properties on the island and who live here part time during the warmer months.   Nearly half of the housing stock on the island is owned by people who have an off-island address and it is estimated that up to a third of the total housing stock is empty during the winter months and occupied during the summer.  Taking this into account for about half of the year the population is around 12,000.

In addition, during the summer months the population can swell up to 30,000 at any time when short-stay holiday makers, day-trippers and boaties are taken into account.

The community of Waiheke is engaged and active in civic affairs.  The letters to the editor pages of our two local papers are always full and are testament to the level of discussion that take place within the community.  There are 198 community organisations on the island that rely on voluntary contributions from our citizens and they range from the health services through to sports and recreation clubs and welfare groups.

In addition Waiheke has a consistently high voter turn out in both local body and central government elections.  Community board decisions and council papers are thoroughly inspected and elected representatives are held accountable with a consistently high number of local people turning up to the public forum part of monthly community board meetings.

Local Boards

Waiheke and Great Barrier are both assured of having their own local boards within the Auckland Council.  We are in no doubt that this is the direct result of the level of activism and engagement that the people in both communities took in advocating for more democracy and local decision-making during the submission process to the Royal Commission on Local Governance and also during the select committee process for the Auckland Governance bills.

The current members of the Waiheke Community Board are very hard working and responsive to the community’s needs.  The existing membership is of 6 members in total (including the Auckland City Councillor) and given that the legislation for Auckland Governance will result in greater powers – and most probably a greater workload – for locally elected representatives the board numbers need to be a minimum of six members but could probably be greater to better distribute the workload.

A separate Waiheke island ward

In the Local Government Commission ‘s A guide for the establishment of new governance arrangements for Auckland it states under ‘Determination on wards’ (page 7):

Statutory compliance with: ….

v) so far as practicable, the boundaries of wards and the numbers of councillors for each ward provide fair representation for the electors of each ward (i.e. the population of each ward divided by the numbers of councillors is within +/- 10% of the population divided by the 20 councillors – referred to as the ‘+/- 10% rule)

vi) if the Commission considers that effective representation of communities of interests so requires, wards may be defined and membership distributed between them in a way that does not comply with the requirements of v. above

We ask that you invoke vi) above and do not apply the “+/-10% rule” to Waiheke and allow us our own ward and ward councillor on the Auckland Council for the following reasons:

1) As an island Waiheke is already recognised as a community of interest.  One of the main concerns for this island community is that there is no similar community of interest elsewhere in the Auckland council region with which we can combine.  This island community has a strong sense of identity that is not shared by residents and ratepayers in the CBD or elsewhere on the isthmus.

This lack of community of interest extends to Great Barrier as well. Despite the fact that both islands are situated in the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke and Great Barrier are significantly different islands with different stressors. The Haruaki Gulf Islands District Plan, for example, has caused considerable difficulties for Great Barrier people because of the lack of recognition of the differences between the two communities – and their distinct environments – and the need for different development controls to be applied to each island.

On Waiheke one of our greatest fears is that the ‘isthmusisation’ that occurs now – where the mindset of the isthmus council is transported to the Waiheke community in their decision making – will continue under the much larger Auckland Council and our community feels strongly that to avoid this we need a councillor to not only help with the governance across the region but also advocate for our unique island within the region.

2) Waiheke is already regionally and nationally significant.  We are the largest community in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and our island is seen as being part of ‘Auckland’s playground.’  Consequently having  a councillor from the island will definitely contribute to the regional governance of Auckland and we hope will regionally and nationally significant area.   A major concern for the Waiheke community is that a councillor shared with other mainland areas will not understand and advocate for this environmentally special place and its inhabitants.

3) UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 

Waiheke will play an important role in complementing the new Auckland Council in its attempt to become a world-class city.  It can best play this role by achieving international recognition as a centre for conservation and sustainability.  There is growing support for the idea that Waiheke should pursue this by applying to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Such an ambitious project requires special representation at the top level of Auckland Council and having our own councillor is by far the simplest way to do this.

4) Unlike the other current wards in Auckland City Council the Hauraki Gulf islands community boards and ward councillor have mostly been elected as ‘independent’ – that is, without  political party affiliation.  On Waiheke this means that our elected representatives are accountable to our community first and foremost and do not have to follow a ‘party line.’  If we were to become part of a larger ward it is unlikely that an independent councillor could afford to stand and be elected.    This would usher in a new period of political division that so far has not existed on the island in our local governance.

Conclusion

The Hauraki Gulf Islands have long been seen as being tied as a community of interest with Auckland City, however most of these ties are of a practical nature and have very little to do with the council itself.  There is more affinity with the work of the Auckland Regional Council, which administers the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, along with the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and other government departments.
There are educational choices both at secondary and tertiary levels in many parts of the region and health services are provided by District Health Boards and transport (including ferries) is a regional problem.

The unique qualities of Waiheke Island simply do not fit in with the ward proposals that are being bandied about but the island is an integral part of the region and should be treated as such by the proposed Auckland Council.

There is a precedent for Waiheke being a smaller ward within a larger amalgamated body.  The Waiheke community successfully lobbied to have its own councillor and community board after the amalgamations in 1989 where the Waiheke County Council became part of the Auckland City Council.   At that time the population of Waiheke was only around 3000 – however the unique nature of the island and the community’s demand for a continuation of local representation was acknowledged in the subsequent arrangements.

While the size of the community has grown over that time good local governance is still an issue that can excite this passionate community.

We therefore ask that when the Local Government Commission is drafting its proposal for the allocation of wards and councillors for the Auckland Council that Waiheke Island be identified as a ward in its own right with its own councillor.

Denise Roche
Auckland City Councillor
Hauraki Gulf Islands Ward

Ph: (09) 372 6578 or 027 209 7554

Email: cr.roche@aucklandcity.govt.nz

Waiheke Parade for the Planet

Forwarded by Mark Parisian.

To make a stand on climate change, meet at the council service centre on Belgium St on Sat 24th from 9.30am for a parade of 350 steps around the Ostend Market, departing from the service centre at 10am.

ALL WELCOME – CHILDREN, PARENTS, WALKERS, DANCERS, SINGERS,MUSICIANS AND PERFORMERS

WEAR BLUE AND GREEN AND BRING DRUMS AND INSTRUMENTS, flags & banners etc. (wear green/blue face-makeup if you wish)
Prizes for most original Adult and child costume, Prizes for Best and Most Original Costume for Adult and Child. Take the bus, walk or cycle to the event- Think Global, Act Local!Bike, walk

We’ll be joining more than 2000 communities in over 150 countries taking action to urge world leaders to take bold and immediate steps to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions. 350 parts per million is the most carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is 390 parts per million.

Photos of our event will be displayed with other 350 photos from around the world on MASSIVE screens in the heart of New York City.

For further info, see www.350.org .  Under ” Find an Action’ you can find the Waiheke 350 Steps event listed and rsvp to register your interest in taking part

Useful information about ward boundaries

If you are planning on going to the meeting this Sunday 11th October, 2pm at Ostend Hall to talk about the proposed ward boundaries, these documents collected by WICPC may be helpful in providing some background.

  • ARC GAC Submission Proposed Local Boards – This gives an idea of of the main population areas and names. In this ARC proposal waiheke joins western bays
  • LGC Governance_establishment_guide – This is a guide to the Local Government Commission’s responsibilities and the criteria it uses to make decisions about boards and wards.
  • LGC Commission_tasks_and_approach – Sets out the Commission’s approach to identification of communities of interest. This also includes the time line.
  • Local Government Auckland Council Act 2009 – The full act. see 
    Sect 16 – decision making responsibilities for local boards, 
    Sect 17 – principles for allocation of decision making responsibilities of Auckland Council, 
    Sect 19 – local boards funding policy
    Sect 20 – local board plans
    Sect 21 – local board agreements
    Sect 31 – delegations
  • LGC Report Back aug 2009 – Report back from LGC on the proposal to move Waiheke to  Thames Coromandel District council. Contains some relevant analysis.

Waiheke is already guaranteed a community board. It is enshrined in the legislation. but it is not large enough in population to gain a full council representative.  The average ward size is around 60,000. Hence Waiheke will be joined with some other part of the City to form a council ward.

Nearby choices include: ( ward, current holder, party) 

  • Hobson –  Aaron Bhatnagar, C+R
  • Western Bays – Graeme Easte, City Vision
  • Devonport – Chris Darby, independent,  http://www.chrisdarby.co.nz

If you can’t make the meeting feel free to add comments here

Public Meeting on Ward Boundaries

From Denise Roche – our local councillor

Representation on the Super City Council – What Do We Want?

Public meeting: Sunday 11th October, 2pm
Ostend Hall, Belgium Street, Ostend

In the shake up of governance in the Auckland region the Waiheke community can claim a victory because all of the submissions we’ve all made over the last year and a half has resulted in Waiheke keeping a local board when the Super City comes into force in as year’s time.

The Local Government Commission is currently developing plans on how the Super City can be divided up into wards and how the 20 councillors that the government says will make up the Super Council could be allocated across the region. Before they decide their proposal they want feedback on how this could work.

I want your thought’s on this – because your elected representatives have a unique opportunity to try to influence the proposal that the Local Government Commission will put out for public submissions so we need to represent all views adequately.

In the next few months there is a lot of work for all of us to do – so this meeting is also about continuing the discussion about democracy and how we can best be represented at a local government level.

The Government is pushing the Super City arrangements through in a helluva rush so the timeframes for our input is tight:

October 16th – last day for informal feedback from elected representatives to the Local Government Commission
November 20th – Local Government Commission releases draft proposal on wards and boundaries and numbers of local boards for public submissions
December 11th – Submissions close (no verbal submissions)
January/February wards/boundaries etc announced

And on top of all that in November we can expect to put in submissions on the the next Auckland Governance bill – which deals with the responsibilities and powers of local boards.

Please come to the meeting on Sunday if you are able to. It’s about democracy.

Naku noa na,

Denise Roche
Auckland City Councillor
Hauraki Gulf Islands ward

ph: 372 6578 or 027 209 7554