In the second part of our series on the Super City's executive team, Bernard Orsman profiles the long-time Wellington public service and council chief whose task is to chart a vision for the future
Roger Blakeley is a Sir Humphrey of the Wellington bureaucratic establishment with big plans for Auckland.
The 64-year-old, who started work as the Super City's chief planning officer on September 1, has the job of developing a 30-year "Auckland Plan" by the end of next year.
Dr Blakeley is the archetypal Wellington bureaucrat, highly educated, with a doctorate in earthquake engineering from Canterbury University.
As Secretary for the Environment, he was instrumental in developing the law reform that led to the Resource Management Act.
That was followed by modernising councils' powers by working on the Local Government Act 2002 as chief executive at the Department of Internal Affairs.
He then put those reforms into practice with a 10-year stint as chief executive of Porirua City Council, where he scooped public sector management awards and, in the words of outgoing Mayor Jenny Brash, "made a big difference to the city".
Dr Blakeley's first and probably most important job is developing an Auckland spatial plan, which mayor-elect Len Brown has declared will be called the "Auckland Plan".
The plan is essentially a blueprint setting out the long-term vision and framework for development of Auckland over the next 30 years.
It will not be only a picture of future development and growth, but will incorporate transport and other infrastructure, environmental protection, heritage management and social development.
Dr Blakeley says it is not only feasible but necessary to have the Auckland Plan ready by the end of next year, so it can feed into the Auckland Council's first long-term plan in 2012.
Otherwise, the council would miss the bus and "we simply can't afford to do that". He is promising dialogue with Aucklanders to develop a "high-level and strategic" plan, including tools such as three-dimensional images of how the city might look.
Asked how the Auckland Council will deal with opposition to the plan - for example, if a community does not want its neighbourhood earmarked for growth - and resolve matters within 12 months, Dr Blakeley says there will be "follow-on processes" such as a single district plan for Auckland.
"We are wanting to establish a new paradigm. We have set ourselves some operating principles of being simple, fast and bold."
Dr Blakeley, a newcomer to Auckland, says he is bowled over by the city's stunning natural environment nestled around harbours and coastline.
But he acknowledges that the built environment is a mixed bag that needs addressing.
He says Auckland cannot keep spreading outwards indefinitely, but needs to improve the quality of urban intensification.
There is no reason, he says, why Auckland cannot follow cities such as Paris, with low-cost, high-quality medium-density housing.
"We are currently 1.4 million people. By 2031 we will have a population of two million people. That's an extra 600,000 people to accommodate over 20 years.
Dr Blakeley says following the current patterns of growth would add 20,000ha to the city's urban area by 2030 - or 40 per cent more than the current 55,000ha.
Another area he is keen to pursue is improving Auckland's economy in line with the Government's growth plans.
"Our economy tends to be heavily dependent on immigration, consumption and construction.
"There are relatively low levels of export volume and relatively low levels of participation in the new economies, high technology-type industries."
Dr Blakeley sees opportunities for Greater Auckland in high-value processed foods, the marine industry, health technology, digital and screen production, information/communication technology and high-value tourism.
DR ROGER BLAKELEY
* Age: 64.
* Porirua City Council chief executive 2000-2010.
* Department of Internal Affairs chief executive 1995-2000.
* Secretary for the Environment 1986-1995.
* Leading figure in development of the Resource Management Act.