Super City elections 2013: Going green a hot issue out West

Waitakere candidates well aware of proud tradition of being at the forefront of environmental leadership

West Auckland beaches are a mecca for swimmers and surfers. Photo / Sarah Ivey
West Auckland beaches are a mecca for swimmers and surfers. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Former Cantabrian Ted Smith spent two weeks looking for a home in Auckland when he moved from Canterbury after the earthquakes in 2011, and fell in love with the West.

Now a Massey resident, Mr Smith is looking forward to taking part in his first Super City elections and says his vote will go to the candidates who "are most friendly to the environment".

"What sets the West apart is the forests and the bush, and politicians who don't appreciate our fragile forests and support sustainable practices will have no place here," he said.

The Waitakere ward is divided into two local boards, with the Waitakere Ranges Board extending from Whatipu and Titirangi in the south to Waitakere and O'Neill Bay in the north and the Henderson-Massey Board that includes Te Atatu, West Harbour, Massey, Ranui, Henderson and Glendene.

The environment, and how to sustain the ward's identity, continue to feature highly among issues for would-be voters in the ward.

The ward seats will definitely see change this election with sitting councillor Sandra Coney stepping down after 12 years in regional government to focus on issues closer to home.

Ms Coney is standing for the Waitakere Ranges Board, and is supporting former Auckland Regional Council colleague Christine Rose to fill one of the two ward seats.

"I want to put my energy into my local place, and want to see the uniqueness of Waitakere Ranges protected," Ms Coney said.

"There's still a task to be done getting departments of council to recognise the ranges is the only land area in Auckland that has national legislation sitting over it, and it means doing things differently."

Ms Rose said the main issues facing the ward were transport, community services and the "urban and natural" environment.

"Traffic is at a standstill from the motorway back into the suburban streets at many times of the day and night," she said.

A significant part of the ward comprises rural land, and local board candidate Mark Brickell, who is seeking re-election, is campaigning to "stop the draft unitary plan [from] creating more restrictions on what people can do on their own land".

"We must not have a repeat of the $23,000 spent trying to get consent to cut a pohutukawa branch over the road and footpath in Piha," he said.

Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse, who has lived in West Auckland for over 30 years, is also seeking to retain her ward seat.

"Our community has been active in rebuilding the networks lost during the Super City transition, but there is a lot to do to ensure that the community organisation cohesion that the West is famous for is supported to thrive," Ms Hulse said.

"We must also continue our proud tradition out West of being at the forefront of environmental leadership."

Candidate Peter Chan, standing in his fifth local election, has put his name up for both the ward and the Henderson-Massey Board representation. Mr Chan, an ethnic Chinese originally from Hong Kong, said he wanted to be "the voice" for the increasing ethnic minority groups that have made West Auckland their home.

"The issues ethnic minorities face are different, and because of where they come from, how they see things are also different," Mr Chan said.

"We need someone who can be their voice, and I have been here long enough to also understand and explain the New Zealand views to them."

Ward candidate Brian Neeson, who has lived in West Auckland for 30 years, said legacy projects and community service arrangements passed on from the now disestablished Waitakere City Council had given the ward a good start.

"The West will now have to fight for our share of the budget that is currently being spent more centrally and south," Mr Neeson said. "I know how to fight."

In recent weeks, Henderson-Massey Board candidates Cheryl Brown-Talamaivao and Ann Degia-Pala made the news for changing their surnames. Some voters thought having hyphenated names meant they could represent more than one culture, while others thought it "diluted their brand".


Local body basics

There are three main contests:

1. Mayoral election
2. 20 councillors from 13 wards
3. 21 local boards

Key dates

September 20-25: Postal voting papers delivered

October 12: Election day

Catch up with all the Super City news online at http://tinyurl.com/supercitynzh

- NZ Herald

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