By Colin Beardon
This is a version of the submission Colin will be making to the Select Committee. If you agree with him you can either write your own submission along the same lines, or Comment here to let Colin add you to his count of supporters.
The submission essentially proposes that the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands be removed from the Bill, and that a separate structure be set up for the Gulf and its Islands.
If you wish to be counted as a supporter of this submission, add a comment with your name and contact email or email Colin directly. You will not be named in the submission but the total number of supporters will be mentioned. Obviously, the larger the number, the more attention we attract.
Supporting this submission does not prevent you from supporting any other submission, or writing your own submission.
Submission To The Parliamentary Select Committee:
Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill
Name or Organisation: Colin Beardon
Daytime telephone number:
I would like to speak to the committee in person
Specific to clause 5 Meaning of Auckland
We propose that the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands be excluded from the Bill and that separate governance arrangements be made for them.
The Royal Commission started from the belief that Auckland is not a world class city, that it should be one, and it therefore needs ‘fixing’. On the other hand, the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands are already world class. They do not need fixing, but require a specific vision to realise their full potential.
The Hauraki Gulf is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a special ecology and many sites of historical significance. It supports a wide range of recreational pursuits and sporting events. The Gulf Islands’ communities are independent-minded, creative, caring and supportive. They have a history of developing innovative and sustainable solutions.
The Royal Commission believed that the Gulf Islands are not economically viable, and therefore need to be part of Auckland City. We reject that notion and believe that by developing our unique economy, more controlled and targetted spending and raising appropriate revenue from visitors we can become a sustainable economy.
The community of the Gulf Islands realise that our greatest assets are our natural environment and our way of life. This is why people visit us and why people come to live here. These are under great threat from creeping urbanisation.
If we are allowed to implement a vision based on the ‘three sustainables’ we can obtain significant international recognition. In particular, within two years the Gulf can become the first UNESCO ‘Biosphere Reserve’ in New Zealand. As such it would join 533 other such reserves in 107 countries around the world. This would bring many benefits to the Gulf, the Auckland region and the country as a whole.
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve includes environmentally protected areas alongside zones for sustainable economic development. It aims to develop a ‘quality’ economy based on local community action, entrepreneurship and sound science. Though there are none in New Zealand, there are currently 533 in 107 countries around the world, including sixteen in Australia. A ‘Hauraki Gulf Reserve’ would enable us to share and learn within a global network of similar environments, leading to an increase in low-impact scientific and eco-tourism.
To obtain UNESCO recognition, that vision must not just be articulated, but must be enshrined in governance structures and legislation to ensure that it is realised. We envisage a strengthening of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, and a regional authority based upon similar representation to the Gulf Forum. Within this structure, the Islands should be run by their residents.
The Royal Commission recognised “The main problem seems to be that most decisions are made in downtown Auckland.” (16.58) It addressed this by giving the Islands a special level of local autonomy within a parent authority that had “community engagement as its main focus”.
None of these specific recommendations are reflected in the current Bill. Though 28% of all submissions to the Royal Commission came from the Islands, the problems and issues they raised have been overlooked. The problems noted by the Royal Commission are likely to be exacerbated, rather than mitigated, by the current Bill.
The Hauraki Gulf and its Islands are so different from the isthmus that their true potential will never be realised for so long as they are forced to share a common vision. Now is the time for Auckland to address its own issues, and for the Gulf to address its own issues. That way both can have a bright future.
(a) Redefine ‘Auckland’ in Clause 5 of the Bill to include the isthmus, but to exclude the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands.
(b) Add a clause to the Bill to establish a separate authority for the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands, committed to seeking international recognition for its integrated approach to sustainability.