Respect our boundaries

By Heather McCracken

With their leafy avenues of well-appointed homes, Devonport and Mt Eden aren't places you'd associate with civil unrest.

But they're among Auckland suburbs where residents are stirring over concerns the Supercity carve-up will destroy their communities.

Ratepayers fear boundaries proposed by the Local Government Commission will cost them their identity.

Plans to divide Mt Eden (Maungawhau) from its namesake mountain prompted a revolt from locals, albeit a well-mannered one in the form of a letter-writing campaign.

Part of the suburb falls into the new Mt Albert-Mt Roskill ward, while the rest - including the mountain - is in Maungawhau-Hauraki, the central city.

Eden Albert Community Board member Chris Dempsey said locals had a "strong attachment" to the mountain, and didn't want the suburb split.

"It has no relationship to the city, but if you live to the south or southwest, you see it as an anchor point in your landscape."

A flyer dropped in letterboxes over the past week urged residents to write to the commission before submissions closed on Friday.

The proposed Supercity boundaries showed "no trace of the suburb of Mt Eden", the flyer said: "According to them we will live in Balmoral and have no say in the future of the mountain." It's a similar story for One Tree Hill, where the mountain has been split from surrounding suburbs to be included in the Orakei-Maungakiekie ward.

Maungakiekie Community Board chairwoman Bridget Graham said there was no apparent reason for the split - except to justify naming the ward Maungakiekie, One Tree Hill's Maori name.

Residents had other concerns as well, such as grouping Onehunga and Otahuhu with the more affluent eastern bays suburbs, such as Mission Bay.

Across the Waitemata, Devonport residents are ready to fight plans to unite them with Takapuna.

Devonport Community Board chairman Mike Cohen said the historic suburb had little in common with its northern neighbours, who were "hellbent on high-rises and development".

"We've had 120 years of our own local government, and a lot of people feel that where we are today is because of local people making local decisions."

If the proposal went ahead, he expected residents to seek a review at the first opportunity, in 2013.

In West Auckland, the proposed Whau ward will mesh New Lynn and Avondale, suburbs in different cities and divided by the Whau River.

Avondale Community Board chairman Duncan Macdonald said it would be a "shambles", merging areas with different rubbish collections, health boards, power companies, police districts and courts.

Avondale residents had little in common with those in West Auckland, he added: "We have nothing to do with mullet-haired, black-jeaned people who drive Holden V8s."

But New Lynn Community Board member Sandy Taylor didn't mind getting cosy with her Auckland City neighbours, saying: "I've never dressed like that. For most people it's not an issue."

Papakura and Franklin residents want to opt out of the Supercity altogether.

Save Papakura spokesman Ross Williams said being grouped with neighbouring Manurewa would lead to a "them and us" attitude.

"We're being thrust together when we don't know that much about each other," he said.

Papakura residents were used to having their own council, where their views could be heard easily.

Auckland City Council has recommended that Mt Eden should fall entirely within the Mt Albert-Mt Roskill ward and boundaries be moved to ensure even representation.

* The Local Government Commission's plan for the Supercity proposes 12 wards and 19 local boards.
* Most wards would elect two councillors, while four wards would have just one, making 20 councillors in total.
* Local boards would have between five and nine members, for a total of 126.
* The central city ward of Maungawhau-Hauraki would have the highest population per councillor, electing a single representative for 88,000 people.
* Submissions closed on Friday, and the boundaries will be finalised by March.

- Herald on Sunday

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