Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Super South Island v Auckland

Southern councils hope a 'coalition of the willing' will give them weight in Wellington.

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt is thinking of hitching his council to a 'coalition of the willing'. Photo / NZPA
Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt is thinking of hitching his council to a 'coalition of the willing'. Photo / NZPA

The Super City better watch out. South Island councils are setting up a "coalition of the willing" to have their voice heard in the corridors of Parliament.

The Remuera-born Mayor of Invercargill, Tim Shadbolt, is among those thinking of hitching his council to the South Island Strategic Alliance.

Mr Shadbolt, a one-term mayor of Waitemata City, says the Super City is out of kilter with the South Island and the rest of New Zealand.

"We're just seeing this phenomenal growth continuing to spiral out of control, and the demands that are going to be made on motorways and other developments in Auckland to the detriment of the South Island is a real wake-up call," he told Radio New Zealand yesterday.

Dunedin, whose population of 125,000 is smaller than the 128,000 residents of the Howick Local Board, has added its name to the alliance along with the Otago Regional Council, and Central Otago and Clutha district councils.

Councillors from Dunedin were advised on Monday that one of the aims for the "coalition of the willing" was to promote a united South Island voice in talks with the Government.

Other goals, according to Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, were to recognise common interests among the 27 South Island councils and finding ways of co-operating for things like shared contracts for road maintenance.

Super City Mayor Len Brown said it was great to see Auckland's brothers and sister down south working to create a Super South Island.

"They describe themselves as the coalition of the willing. In Auckland we started off as a coalition of the unwilling, but I think most of us have been convinced of the benefits of a united Auckland.

"Up here, we're now speaking with one voice, delivering savings of $1.7 billion and fostering an Auckland spirit. I hope the mainlanders have as much success," Mr Brown said.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said the "coalition of the willing" shared a population of about one million while Auckland had about 1.4 million people with one mayor and 20 councillors.

Mr Barnett rejected concerns about the Super City hogging Government funds for infrastructure, saying for decades it had contributed more than it got back. "If Auckland is growing at a fast rate it is due to demand - a problem I am sure Invercargill would like to manage," he said.

- additional reporting Otago Daily Times

- NZ Herald

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