For sale. Parks. Golf courses. Holiday parks. Marinas. Office buildings. Car parks. Contact Auckland Council for details.

In case you haven't heard, Auckland Council is embarking on a big sell down of Super City assets in its new 10-year budget with a sales target of $834million, including a big chunk of $177m in the first year.

The sales strategy is running into trouble with a new group of marina users being set up to challenge marina land sales, the sale of a Takapuna car park temporarily halted by court action and alarm among councillors.

We would stand condemned by the public if we didn't take advantage of getting rid of stuff that the public don't want and need and replacing it with what the public do want and need

"The privatisation circus is back in town," says Waitemata councillor Mike Lee.


The Weekend Herald can reveal that councillors are also being call to a workshop behind closed doors on July 25 to be briefed on future plans for 13 council-owned golf courses where half of the leases are due to expire between 2021 and 2026. Other courses have leases running until 2094.

For an idea of what's planned, a budget document has looked at Takapuna golf course and found the 44ha of flat land adjacent to the northern motorway could be carved up.

"A $300m development further north in Albany yields 800 mid-rise units on a land area of 2ha. This indicates that a significant number of mid-rise apartments can be achieved while still providing golfing facilities and plentiful open space to the wider community," says the document.

The Takapuna golf course perfectly illustrates the strategy to dispose of "non-strategic" assets to fund more important projects and pay down debt.

Takapuna Golf Course could be carved up for golf, open space and housing. Photo / Greg Bowker
Takapuna Golf Course could be carved up for golf, open space and housing. Photo / Greg Bowker

It's a strategy adopted by the cash-strapped council right up against its debt ceiling. It follows decades of under-investment in core infrastructure, unfettered growth and Mayor Phil Goff's promise to cap rates rises at 2.5 per cent a year.

The budget calls for asset sales of $212m over 10 years and allows its development arm, Panuku, to sell a further $436m of property in a number of suburbs and town centres planned for regeneration. The proceeds will be ring-fenced for this purpose. Another $186m of assets sales are planned for existing urban development projects.

Goff says there is no big sell down of council assets, quite the opposite with a massive investment in new assets over the next decade, including $1.3 billion in parkland and community facilities.

He says $26.2 billion will be invested in assets, of which 97 per cent will be funded from borrowings, rates and other revenue and 3 per cent from "recycling surplus land and buildings we don't need".


"We would stand condemned by the public if we didn't take advantage of getting rid of stuff that the public don't want and need and replacing it with what the public do want and need" he said.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo / Greg Bowker
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo / Greg Bowker

Panuku is the main target of public opposition to asset sales. It's plan to sell the Anzac Ave carpark and home of a Sunday morning market in Takapuna for development has ignited strong push back from the community and the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board.

It's part of a mass privatisation of the city and a theft of democracy, says Miriam Clements, who has temporarily halted the sale pending a review of the process in the High Court.

There are public concerns over development plans at Pine Harbour, Bayswater and Hobsonville marinas by richlister Simon Herbert. Panuku is in the process of consulting over potential development at Hobsonville.

"Recently released information has revealed that Auckland Council has been secretly and successfully pursuing this agenda of transferring publicly-owned marina assets to private owners and is well advanced," says Auckland Marina Users Association spokesman Euan Little.

Auckland Marina Users Association spokesman Euan Little. Photo / Doug Sherring
Auckland Marina Users Association spokesman Euan Little. Photo / Doug Sherring

Herbert has given an assurance over public space on the waterfront, saying his plans to develop apartments, cafes and shopping areas will improve access.

"Across Auckland there is now wide acceptance that marinas and coastal locations are more than just places to tie up boats and parks cars," says Herbert, who has spent close to $50m for marina land and denies the purchases are the result of a special arrangement with council.

Councillor Daniel Newman says the plan to sell marina land ignores Auckland's maritime roots: "We're become the City of Sales."

Panuku Development Auckland chief operating officer David Rankin says the sale of non-strategic assets has never been just about the money. It pays for projects that would otherwise be a burden on rates and provides public good outcomes, like good urban design and affordable housing.

Rankin acknowledges that as a "change agent" Panuku will face opposition to asset sales. In the case of Takapuna, he says, there are a mix of views of what to do with the land and its job is to find a balanced outcome that makes commercial sense.

"Takapuna's future relies on having a lot more residents living in it and around it," says Rankin, adding the council will replace the car park with a new $25m car park down the road.

Of all the sales, a sell down of parks and open to bank between $200m and $600m after some of the proceeds are used to buy more suitable parkland is the most sensitive.

A no-holes barred review of council assets by Cameron and Partners in 2015 set the ball rolling by suggesting the council could sell 5 per cent of its parks for $2.25b.

As part of a rolling series of 'money for value' reviews commissioned by Goff, the sale of park land has re-emerged. A May report says parkland is currently sold ad hoc and calls for a more efficient system of bundling up land to sell on the open market.

Work done on two Local Board areas and extrapolated out across Auckland shows 140ha of park land and open space could be hocked off.

When the report appeared on a governing body meeting 10 days ago, it was quietly taken off the public agenda for fine-tuning by councillors at a closed workshop.

Goff says the council needs to look long and hard at the disposal of parkland. If it is actively used for parkland, he says "I don't think it will be sold" but if it is land not highly regarded in the community and better land can be provided then it could be considered.

Councillor Mike Lee. Photo / Michael Craig
Councillor Mike Lee. Photo / Michael Craig

Lee says there has always been a taboo about selling parkland: "Now they are discarding this taboo and parkland is on the block for sale, Where will it end?"

Other assets being primed for sale include a package of council office buildings with the proceeds being used to provide better suited community facilities, six major car parking buildings with a combined value of $253m, off-street car parks valued at $255 and three holiday parks valued at $13.5m