Community meetings: they rarely run smoothly. At a meeting in Pt Chevalier this week, Housing New Zealand provided valuable insights into its social housing programme, but Auckland Transport was reluctant to say anything and the Police didn't know what to say. People got angry.
It didn't start well. Constable Neil Pimenta, a kindly looking man with a soft voice, in his short-sleeved shirt and stab vest, got up to do a presentation.
"I only got asked to do this yesterday," he said. And his presso wasn't on Pt Chev. "It's more of a general introduction."
It wasn't that, either, because it didn't work. An organiser said it was because he'd used Windows and they were set up for a Mac.
Constable Pimenta peered at his notes. He told them how the central police station is going to move to the bottom of College Hill later this year.
"Excuse me but what's this got to do with Pt Chev?" called out a man in the back.
"So rude," said a woman down the front.
Constable Pimenta peered at his notes again. "I've got the dates here for our drop-in meetings in Pt Chev. But I can't read them, the print's too small."
He told them the "major callouts" in the suburb were at the shops. "And the library."
It's all going down at the library? He meant outside it, in the little plaza where people hang out.
"And the liquor store."
He gave them a lecture about recording serial numbers on their appliances and how they should maybe buy security aids on the internet. He seemed harmless.
It was a cold wet night, but 100 locals turned up at the RSA hall for a "town hall" style meeting organised by the "Point Chevalier Placemaking Group", a coalition of locals. The beer was cheap and they put out food: club sandwiches, chicken legs, vegetable pasties. Nobody ate much.
A pretty even spread of ages, 30s to 70s, and a spread of interests: Housing NZ's plans to settle some "high needs" tenants in the suburb; bike lanes, traffic chaos on Meola Rd; the need for some TLC in the shopping village.
The Two Marks were there. That's Mark Graham, standing for the governing body of the council on the left-leaning City Vision ticket, and Mark Thomas, opposing him on behalf of the right-leaning Communities & Residents. Graham was one of the meeting organisers, although the whole group included people from both sides.
There was also a woman in a cowboy hat who didn't stop interjecting. What would an Auckland community meeting be without the anarchist property-rights activist Lisa Prager? No, she confessed under a barrage of counter-interjections, she doesn't live there.
Next up was Wally Thomas from Auckland Transport. Wally presents as everybody's friend, big grin, rumpled blue suit and open-necked white shirt, always ready to help.
He's also one of AT's top executives, the guy in charge of communications and "stakeholder relations". If you think they do a poor job explaining themselves, that's on Wally.
He was supposed to "share relevant and up-to-date information" about "current plans and projects related to transport". Instead, he talked about the city. People sat there seething.
Mark Graham stopped him. "I want to apologise," he said. "We asked our presenters for local information and I'm really disappointed. They clearly haven't prepared."
"I'll answer that," said Thomas. "I was asked to attend three weeks ago. I explained that we don't have a place-based approach. I'd need to bring half a dozen people if we were going to answer all your local questions. I explained that and I assumed your group talks to each other."
"That's patronising," said the woman down the front.
"Six people?" said someone else. "That's half the problem. We want to see plans, we want to know what you're going to do about the trees. I don't care how many people it takes."
Steve Leamoana from Housing NZ got up, all togged out in suit, tie and overcoat. It really was a cold night. "I told my wife I was coming to Pt Chev and she asked that you let me get home in one piece," he said. A few people laughed.
He said HNZ has 2700 homes under construction, up from just 282 in 2016. And they need to do it. Demand for social housing in Auckland alone has doubled in the past two years; there are now 4400 on the waiting list.
In Pt Chev, there are seven projects in development, comprising 87 single-bedroom units and 28 with two or more bedrooms. A large block is planned for the village centre, near schools, pre-school centres and a women's refuge. Many of the tenants will have "high needs".
Leamoana was joined by two of his HNZ "stakeholder relations" colleagues, Connie Ake and Marion Humphrey. There were many questions and they all boiled down to the same question, with the same answer.
A woman at the back said it best. "I have two small children who walk to school by themselves. I'm genuinely concerned about these high-risk people. Has anyone done a risk assessment?"
High risk, said Humphrey, is not the same as high needs.
Ake said if they did a risk assessment it would have to be for the whole community. Why single out HNZ tenants? "We know 25 per cent of the general population will have an issue with mental health in their lifetime. That's one in four people in this room."
Humphrey said the Government had made "a big budget commitment" to mental health and drug and alcohol support. "We can tell you that having HNZ as neighbours is probably better than having the private sector there. We make sure help is at hand. When people are judged 'high needs', we wrap services around them. We're trying to give people the tools to make better lives. To be better parents, all those things."
Many people in the room seemed to accept this; many others, not so much.
"The truth is," said Ake, "will this make a difference to your community?" She didn't think so. "All sorts of people live in Pt Chev, including hundreds of social housing tenants who've been there a long time."
"Property values will go down," shouted Lisa Prager.
Someone asked about Meola Rd. Weekend parking chaos, because of the sport at Seddon Fields. Frightening for bike riders, because it's so narrow. A bottleneck for drivers. There was a plan to do something, years ago. What the hell happened to it?
Wally Thomas got up and said they were working on a new plan. It would go to a "community liaison group" and then public consultation later this year.
Really? He'd have made more friends if he'd said that at the start.