Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Super City elections 2013: Tide of building poses threat to lifestyle

Preserving the marine environment, wastewater, and coastal housing among key issues to be grappled with

Herald Island is the sort of place where Aucklanders used to have holiday baches. Photo / Greg Bowker
Herald Island is the sort of place where Aucklanders used to have holiday baches. Photo / Greg Bowker

Its vintage fire station was run by women residents while the men worked on the mainland - residents still own the small library and museum. But this place of 256 letterboxes is clinging like a rock oyster to its laid-back lifestyle and backyard beaches against a swift tide of building on the shores of the Upper Waitemata Harbour.

Off peak, it is 18 minutes' drive to the CBD taking either the route via the North Shore or the Northwestern Motorway. The Auckland Council's new rural-urban boundary goes through the island.

Residents & Ratepayers Association chairman Noel Rugg worries about a marine catastrophe should the new sewer lines serving 60,000 homes spill effluent into the bay.

Punching culverts into the island's old causeway link would bring relief by allowing better tidal flushing of the basin but the relevant council-controlled agencies won't do it.

"Watercare and Auckland Transport take 75 per cent of our rates but you can't get to them and you can't talk to them," he told candidates for the two spots on the Albany Ward last week when they pitched their qualities to an audience of 35.

The community asked what the candidates could do for the island, which is near the end of the dog-leg-shaped ward stretching from West Harbour to Albany and the East Coast Bays and then northward on eastern side of State Highway 1 through Silverdale, Orewa and Waiwera.

Brent Robinson, an Albany businessman, said the need to bring financial accountability to Auckland Council in its borrowing had motivated him to stand.

He had wondered why politicians had difficulty getting past the bureaucracy of council-controlled organisations. "If the chief executive officer doesn't do what you want, find a new CEO."

Sitting councillor Wayne Walker said he had a track record of going into bat for the community.

He wanted to bring Auckland Transport and Watercare into the council.

"Cutting out a layer of bureaucracy means more efficiency."

John Watson, who is with Mr Walker on the Putting People First ticket, said he was annoyed by Watercare's approach to bringing in volumetric charging for wastewater on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula for people who supplied their own fresh water from tanks.

"Your issue is the same - that is to get a fair go."

Asked to name the most important issues in the ward, Julia Parfitt, chairwoman of Hibiscus & Bays Local Board, said she had spent much time at Unitary Plan meetings fighting to preserve the character of coastal villages like Herald Island ... "It has a taste of the past here still."

Lisa Whyte, who is standing for the ward after a term on both the Upper Harbour and Hibiscus & Bays local boards, said the Housing Accord's provision to put more homes in special housing areas was a huge threat to attractive communities.

"It will change the lifestyle and we need to step up and make sure it's done in the best possible way."

Albany profile

Ethnicity: European 75%
Asian 13%
Maori 6%
Pasifika 2%
Median age: 38 years
Median household income: $67,840
Current councillors: Wayne Walker, Michael Goudie
Local boards: Upper Harbour and Hibiscus & Bays

Ward candidates (2 seats)

Mary-Anne Benson Cooper (Independent), Tricia Cheel, Kevin Moorhead (Independent), Julia Parfitt (Independent), Brent Robinson (Independent), Wayne Walker (Putting People First), John Watson (Putting People First), Lisa Whyte (Independent)

To view your local board candidates for Upper Harbour and Hibiscus & Bays go to voteauckland.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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