Local Elections 2016: Communities have their say

We went to various communities to ask them what they want from a new mayor — here is what they said.


"Housing first" is the plea to Auckland Council candidates from a group of people who have lived on the city's streets.

Awatea Hawke, Rob Smith and Rangi Carroll, who have all lived on the streets for months or years, have joined a project supported by the outgoing council and social agencies to develop a system that first finds a home for a homeless person and then wraps services around them.

"It's the one way we see that can sustain long-term tenancy for those coming from the street," says Smith.

Agencies counted a record 177 people sleeping rough within 3km of the Sky Tower in May, up from 147 in 2014.

The outgoing council earmarked $110,000 for initiatives to reduce homelessness and $250,000 for emergency housing.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has also allocated $3 million for the Auckland "housing first" initiative.

Smith, 37, says people who have experienced homelessness are keen to be involved.

"Council [by] getting involved with this project is starting to see exactly where they can utilise their skills and strengths to help grow this Housing First. Just get in touch with us," he says.

Carroll, 56, says the council should cap rents.

"Rents are capped in Australia," he says. "Here landlords can just raise rents on their own whim and force people out, and that's why we are seeing so many people living in cars."

Hawke, 46, says the council should designate a percentage of affordable housing in new developments - a proposal which the outgoing council tried to include in the new Unitary Plan, but dropped after an independent hearings panel opposed it.

- Simon Collins


Whether you get around Auckland by car, train, bike or on foot everyone is in agreement - transport options need to improve.

And it needs to happen now.

One of the key issues is that transport systems complement the city's key growth areas, not just by providing roads, but reliable public transport or active options, like cycle-ways.

The Automobile Association's Barney Irvine says while 85 per cent of its members typically drive to work, they are keen for public transport options - though they will need to be on par with the speed and convenience of a car.

"Projects that will have a big impact on access, like the Northwestern busway, need to be brought forward."

And everyone agrees the Government and Auckland Council need to work together better.
The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) has done a lot to improve communication and co-ordination but the next mayor needs to ensure the dialogue continues.

Transportblog editor Matt Lowrie says a large part of the next council term will be focused on how well the Government and council can work together on housing and transport.

Generation Zero's Leroy Beckett says the next mayor needs to ensure projects like the City Rail Link, rapid transit to the airport and the cycling network continue unimpeded.

"For example the cycling budget we have at the moment needs to be continued through the next 10 years, not just the next three, to ensure we develop a real network not just token projects."

- Amelia Wade



Crime and safety, affordable housing, lack of ethnic representation at Auckland Council and poor public transport are the big issues ethnic communities want the new mayor to prioritise.

Jim He, secretary-general of the United Chinese Associations, says the Chinese community has been shaken by recent crime against Asian victims.

"We want a mayor who will advocate for stronger policing and for central government to get tough on crime," he says.

"The city's traffic is also becoming a nightmare, so what we need are more roads or a better public transport system."

Tongan Advisory Council chairman Melino Maka says many Pacific Islanders are being "priced out" of Auckland's housing market.

"Many are now struggling to even afford a rental, and we are worried for our children and how they will ever afford a home," Maka says.

"Affordable housing is something that should be a priority for the new mayor."

Veer Khar, president of the Manukau Indian Association, says many Indians are concerned about not having a voice on council.

"We are one of the major ethnic groups, but we just have token representation at Auckland Council," he says.

"They have made a mockery of Diwali celebrations here, and our input is never sought for any decisions involving our communities."

Khar says he wants the new mayor to be better engaged with communities, and not just during election time.

First time voter Jolene Chen, who migrated from China with her parents six years ago, says she wants a mayor who can turn Auckland into a "city of dreams" again.

"We moved here with dreams of owning our own home, easy traffic and a safe environment, but the reality is very different," she says.

"I want a mayor who will turn Auckland into a city where dreams can come true once again."

- Lincoln Tan


A recurring theme among families is the need for better public transport and the importance of maintaining and improving beaches, parks and recreation spaces.

Families in all parts of Auckland say public transport, especially a reliable rail service, is vital.

They want better transport to ease traffic congestion, provide a much-needed link for commuters to Auckland International Airport and to accommodate proposals in the Unitary Plan for more residents.

Pukekohe resident Richard Valois says Auckland's transport corridors are "terrible" and parking at the airport is overpriced.

The father-of-two says schooling is also an issue in the outlying town where the volume of residents has increased dramatically but, under the SuperCity, amenities such as parks and schooling have not.

"We've only got one high school here. It won't be able to cope."

In Mt Albert, Keti Grgicevich says transport and parking are a big issue for her family of six and they avoid going into the city because parking costs up to $15 an hour.

"They're ridiculous prices."

In Manurewa, Mike Berghan says roadworks on Auckland's Southern Motorway have pushed large volumes of traffic into neighbouring suburbs and he is concerned about extra cars and trucks on residential streets.

Berghan says he wants speed humps introduced to slow the traffic, particularly around the primary school his two daughters attend.

He is also concerned about the rising cost of living in Auckland and wants to see a rates reduction to help middle and low income earners.

- Natalie Akoorie



Rates, bus passes and housing are the three big tests that Grey Power is applying to this year's Auckland Council candidates.

Auckland Grey Power representative Sandy Feringa says retired people's fixed incomes can't stretch to cover the average increase in residential rates of 16.8 per cent over the past three years, including a new transport levy.

"Council keeps bleating about how you can defer the rates, but if you do that long enough and you have to go into a facility such as a retirement village, there is no equity left in your house [to buy a retirement unit]," she says.

She says Grey Power also wants the new council to preserve the current free bus passes for the elderly, and to build more pensioner housing.

The outgoing council agreed to hand over the city's 1412 pensioner flats to a joint venture with the Selwyn Foundation on condition that the new entity maintains at least 1452 units over the next 100 years.

But Age Concern Auckland chief executive Kevin Lamb says that's not enough.

"The number of older people is set to double in the next 20 years, so in real terms that is a huge reduction," he says.

Age Concern and others are pushing to make Auckland an "age-friendly city", adopting a global framework ensuring older people have adequate housing, health, transport and accessible buildings and footpaths.

But officials advised the council to extend the framework to "a range of populations" rather than just the elderly. Councillors split 7-7 on the issue and the officials' advice was accepted.

Lamb says that is "a huge disappointment" and he hopes councillors elected next month will adopt the age-friendly goal.

- Simon Collins

- NZ Herald

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