Painting the big picture - in a positive way

By Bernard Orsman, Wayne Thompson

In the second part of a series on maiden speeches by members of the Auckland Council, Bernard Orsman and Wayne Thompson report on the leaders' visions for the Super City, some of which were voiced in song.

Nearly 90 per cent of the new council's land mass is rural, says Des Morrison. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Nearly 90 per cent of the new council's land mass is rural, says Des Morrison. Photo / Brett Phibbs

DES MORRISON - FRANKLIN WARD

The Franklin councillor has challenged his metropolitan colleagues to understand the rural areas of Auckland.

"Do you realise you are the biggest rural council in New Zealand?" he said. "Ninety per cent of the land mass is actually rural."

The rural sector - the racing industry, sheep, beef, dairy and horticulture - was a big part of driving the economic potential of Auckland, he said. Infrastructure was required to drive that growth.

"I'm talking about broadband to the rural areas to make our industries more efficient ... roading, which is the lifeblood of rural areas."

Mr Morrison said Franklin could teach Auckland about cohesive communities. Over several generations Franklin had built strong Chinese, Indian, Pacific Island and what he termed Kiwi communities.

"The challenge ahead of us as we move towards two million people is trying to make sure that the people who come to Auckland have Kiwi values ... but also value their own cultures."

RICHARD NORTHEY - MAUNGAKIEKIE-TAMAKI WARD

He said he was delighted to have a "crucial" role as accountability and performance committee chairman.

"I'm aware that my constituents are struggling and cannot afford to pay more in rates and charges than as reasonable so I'm determined to ensure efficiencies."

Mr Northey was concerned the council had equitable social policies in order to achieve a just and sustainable economic well-being, which did not exclude low-income residents.

"Housing has been a disgrace in Auckland. Many of my constituents are living in overcrowded and unhealthy areas and too far from places where they can get employment.

"This council needs to work with the Government, private sector and community housing sector to ensure issues are dealt with."

CALUM PENROSE - MANUREWA-PAPAKURA WARD

The former Mayor of Papakura said his passion was youth and youth leadership.

He had been set to sell up his bakery and move to Taupo in 2006 after having had a gutsful of tagging, crime and social housing issues in the town.

But after being urged to put up his hand instead, he stood for the mayoralty in 2007 and won.

His after-hours work with youth, contributing to a sharp fall in crime, led to Mr Penrose being nicknamed the Pied Piper. He said he was concerned the Government had not picked up the social policy recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, but he was keen to make a difference in the social and housing areas.

Mr Penrose said Papakura, which was strongly opposed to having just one city council, had come through the process "pretty damn well".

For the township of 44,000 people, which has its own local board, the biggest issue now was rates.

NOELENE RAFFILLS - WHAU WARD

The hearings committee chairwoman urged councillors not to "lose the importance of people among the big picture". As the numbers of her grandchildren increased, she became aware of desire to be "an investor in my Auckland".

She wished to pass on a great future to her grandchildren so they had the opportunity to enjoy the life she had, have the home and facilities they wanted and to work in Auckland.

Saying "I love singing", she broke into song, with verses of the hymn How Great Thou Art.

"This song is the essence for who I am."

JAMI-LEE ROSS - HOWICK WARD

Jami-Lee Ross used his maiden speech to wish Mayor Len Brown well.

"Your Worship, I want to say with all sincerity, I wish you the best of luck, even though I haven't always supported you, but you have been elected the mayor. You are the leader of this great city."

It was Mr Ross, a co-leader of Citizens & Ratepayers, who led the ferocious attack on Mr Brown's credit card use in June.

Mr Ross said he would be focusing on the issues of affordability, efficiency and transparency, as well as the built and natural environments.

Visions were good to have but they had to be affordable, and he told Mr Brown one of his biggest challenges would be extracting as much money as possible from the Government.

Mr Ross is the youngest Auckland councillor at 24, but he already has two terms under his belt as a Manukau City councillor.

SHARON STEWART - HOWICK

Mrs Stewart was the highest-polling councillor, with 23,700 votes.

She said she was "a bit out there", recalling her work to boost donations to the Blood Bank and to arrange a search and rescue team for the Taiwan earthquake.

Her aim was to build a better city without imposing any rates increases.

Thanking Mr Brown for entrusting her with heading the audit and risk committee, she promised to watch the way the council spent its income.

"Len knows me well enough that if something I think is not right, I'm a ferret and I just keep working on it and will get to the bottom of it."

SIR JOHN WALKER - MANUREWA-PAPAKURA WARD

The Olympic champion, born in Papakura and raised in Manurewa, said he would not have succeeded without believing in people around him.

"If we are going to perform as a council we have got to get out there and take that first step every day and keep moving. We have got to be visionaries, we have got to have dreams, we have got to have plans."

Auckland, he said, had a mayor with a vision and he hoped the council would get around him to succeed.

Sir John talked of his Find Your Field of Dreams sports programme for young people, which started with nothing and now distributes $5 million a year and has taught 79,000 kids to swim.

"If you see the bright smile on their faces, it is unbelievable.

"If we don't dream, we don't have anything and that applies to the Auckland Council. Let's dream big and go after gold."

WAYNE WALKER - ALBANY WARD

The Whangaparaoa Peninsula resident said the council had the chance to change the mindset of all people living in the region to one where they thought, "Our Auckland".

It should tap into the goodwill and good ideas of Aucklanders.

Describing himself as an eighth-generation New Zealander, the former Rodney District councillor said he celebrated his Auckland heritage.

"The Auckland Council gives us an opportunity to connect with the Government because what we do here goes to all of New Zealand."

Mr Walker said he felt privileged to be given leadership of the environment and sustainability forum.

"I will do my utmost to pick up on the great things that have happened in Waitakere, with Project Twin Streams, and things on the North Shore, Rodney and elsewhere."

PENNY WEBSTER - RODNEY WARD

Mrs Webster said if there was one thing the council needed to do, it was to get Aucklanders smiling.

She said that while staying in the city this week and walking up and down Queen St, she had noticed people looked miserable.

"You walk up and down Snells Beach or Warkworth and they're all smiling. Let's accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative."

Mrs Webster, who was an Act MP before becoming the Mayor of Rodney, said her time in Parliament was probably the most unproductive three years of her life.

She reminded councillors that Rodney was the largest geographical ward in Auckland.

As former head of the Auckland branch of Federated Farmers in the 1990s, Mrs Webster said it used to be rural versus metro, "and I made sure it was rural with metro" and set up a sustainable council with the Auckland Regional Council.

GEORGE WOOD - NORTH SHORE

The former senior policeman and North Shore Mayor said the biggest growth industry in Auckland was building new prisons.

"We have to stop that and get the lives of people turned around."

Mr Wood, who heads the council's community safety forum, said the council must mobilise the Government to use the resources put into Auckland's housing, health and education in a "better way".

An example was the improved well-being of residents of 271 state homes in Northcote Central, as a result of joint efforts by the police, North Shore City Council and Housing NZ.

He also wanted to see the council involved with the region's universities, who were keen to do research on important issues. He said people wanted to see good policy from the council instead of ad hoc reactions.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 Dec 2014 15:51:44 Processing Time: 563ms