Insights and reflections upon the future for our Waiheke Governance

From Christopher Wragge

Recently as a representative of the Waiheke Island Community Planning Group Inc I have had the joy to attend two very important conferences about sustainability governance issues and environmental management issues within New Zealand. The first was arranged by Waihekeans Prue Taylor and Klaus Bosselmann at the Auckland University Centre for Environmental Law (NZCEL ) on “Property Rights and Sustainability” , and the second was organised by the Environmental Defence Society ( EDS) titled “Reform in Paradise”. Listen to selected podcasts here.

These conferences have come at a very opportune time when we consider the changes currently being considered for Auckland’s future governance as per the Auckland Governance Legislation reorganisation, and as a Waihekean and Aucklander and New Zealander there was much to gestate over. The focus for me was in the realisation of the inherent relationships being discussed, and about what priorities competing matters should be given if we are to govern better into our immediate and longer term future. And as we all now know, our current Waiheke masters Auckland City Council ( ACC ) do not give much truck to such issues.

The first and paramount tension was that between property rights and sustainability and Prue and Klaus are to be congratulated for their courage in arranging such a conference.

The second tension was in the evolution of such ideas into NZ legislation, and the RMA Amendment Bill, and the evolving move now from the more adverserial property rights Resouce Management Act 1991 ( RMA ) towards a more collaborative Local Government Act 2002 ( LGA ) approach, especially as recognised by the newly established Land & Water Forum which was endorsed this month by the NZ Government.

The third priority was in the planning tools which are now evolving to facilitate this evolution – namely “Strategic Assessment”, and “Hybrid Governance”, and “Community PhotoVoice”.

And the last observation was the noting from attendee lists that the Auckland City Council was not represented at either conference among their collective 350 attendees who represented internationally eminent scholars, leading politicians, NZ Treasury officials, Australian & NZ government officials, Regional and T.A. councillors and officers, leading NGO’s, media, and others, perhaps because the Citizens and Ratepayers ( C&R ) dominated ACC finds the issues just too challenging and prefers to remain with their collective heads buried deep in the past.

What this all means for me as a Waihekean within this current debate is that the current ACC administration is simply following the past USA Bush administration ethos of privileged corporate deregulated anti-sustainability and anti-community arrogance, and that due to this cultural incompatibility that our Waiheke survival and future well-being in the Hauraki Gulf will be best found elsewhere.

Thus I endorse Colin Beardon’s desired outcomes for a more internationally managed protocol for Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf, and I strongly support optimum legislated powers for our future Waiheke Local Board.
Christopher Wragge – 09 372 9541 –