Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Goff says no more public money for new city brand

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says putting any more ratepayers' money into a $500,000 branding project is a "dead duck".

Goff has told managers of the council's promotion's arm, Ateed, that if they want to proceed with the Global Auckland branding project they have to find money from the private sector.

"I'm not interested in spending any more ratepayers' money in this area," Goff said in an interview with the Weekend Herald.

Last week, the Weekend Herald revealed that Ateed has spent more than $500,000 on a new branding proposition - Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland, The Place Desired by Many - over two years.

It bears a close resemblance to the translation used by Ngati Whatua and other iwi across the region for Tamaki Makaurau - 'the land loved by many'. Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust says the proposal is "likely to end up on the scrap heap because the process has not been handled well".

Goff said he had spoken with Ateed chief executive Brett O'Riley and board chairman David McConnell and told them they need to persuade the private sector, which would benefit from a "marketing exercise of this type", to contribute to the funding.

Last night, O'Riley said Ateed understood and accepted the mayor's position.

"Ateed, on behalf of Auckland Council, has always understood the importance of demonstrating value from investment in initiatives designed to attract tourists, events, business and investment to Auckland, and it is always useful to reinforce that purpose."

Asked where Goff's call for private funding left Global Auckland, O'Riley said: "Auckland still needs to connect with the world to deliver growth and opportunity, and what form the Auckland Story project now takes will be the subject of discussion with key stakeholders, including the private sector."

The branding project is the third surprise by Ateed in Goff's first five weeks on the job. He has questioned plans by Ateed and Development Auckland to build an unfunded $10 million to $12 million wharf extension to a mooring dolphin for cruise ships off Queens Wharf; and O'Riley promising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Joseph Parker heavyweight boxing fight.

"I didn't think the boxing case stacked up," Goff said.

The mayor has made it clear to Ateed and other council-controlled organisations(CCOs) that "I'm not there just to sign a blank cheque". They need to demonstrate the positive benefits back to the ratepayers before spending large sums of money, he said.

"It's very straightforward, it's very simply and it's very easy. That is the standard I am setting for all of the CCOs, for council and my own office," Goff said.

The mayor has a raft of measures to improve accountability and performance of CCOs. They include a parliamentary select committee form of scrutiny where councillors will be able to ask hard questions; insisting new CCO board appointments understand they are accountable to the council and people of Auckland, and a no surprises policy.

- NZ Herald

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