Mayor Phil Goff has announced his new leadership team for council. There's some welcome new thinking and, unfortunately, some timidity as well. Most councillors will be reasonably happy and a small number unhappy.

Goff spoke personally to every councillor before drawing up the structure. He asked them what responsibilities they wanted, what they didn't want, and how they thought the council should be structured to meet its objectives.

When he drew up the lists, three or four of them turned down the offers he made. But all councillors have at least one specific role.

"Everyone gets something they want and no one gets everything," Goff said when he announced the lineup. A spokesperson said that comment includes Goff himself. But whta about the public? Do we get what we need?


The key decisions are:

• Reappointment of Bill Cashmore as deputy mayor.

• A powerful new CCO Oversight Committee, chaired by Cashmore, with councillors also sitting on CCO boards.

• The old Environment and Community Committee is split into Environment and Climate Change, chaired by Richard Hills, and Community, chaired by Alf Filipaina.

• Elevation of Desley Simpson to chair both the Finance and Performance Committee and a new Value for Money Committee.

• Creation of six "portfolio" responsibilities, including Māori outcomes, homelessness and the three harbours.

The decision to reappoint Cashmore is disappointing. Goff is fond of expressing his delight at the diverse and multicultural nature of the city, but that still does not extend to his most senior appointment. With several Samoan, Māori and Chinese councillors, nine women and a group of younger councillors to call on, it is remarkable he has not found a way to appoint one of them to the deputy role.

Auckland now has a council that looks quite a lot like the city, but Goff has not seen fit to reflect that in the top leadership.


Asked about this, Goff said the position is "not a symbolic one". It has a "heavy workload" and the person who does it has to be "a workhorse". He chose "the best person for the job".

Effectively, he's saying two things there. One, that among the 14 councillors who do not come from the same demographic as him, not one of them is good enough to be his deputy.

Two, that the only way to do the job of deputy is to be like Cashmore. He's been good, but there are many ways to be a good deputy and his only one of them.

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The decision to get council more involved in overseeing the council-controlled organisations (CCOs) is long overdue. Each of them will have a councillor on its board, in a non-voting capacity, and those councillors, plus one or two others, including newcomer Tracy Mulholland from Whau, will comprise the oversight committee.

Another new councillor, Angela Dalton from Manurewa, gets a big nod from Goff, becoming deputy chair of that committee. She has also been given the portfolio responsibility for Māori outcomes.

Dalton has arrived on council on the same ticket as Daniel Newman, from Papakura, who was the informal leader of the so-called "B team" last term. But her appointments are among several clear indicators that the old A vs B split may not survive into the new term.

Dalton was reluctant to comment on that. She hoped the new council setup would be "inclusive". She also said she was "a believer in disruption, but not divisiveness".

Mulholland is in a similar position. She gained her seat on council by defeating a Goff loyalist, Ross Clow, but she seems keen to work with the mayor too. Another sign of the change: former dedicated Goff adversary Greg Sayers, of Rodney, has been given charge of the Strategic Procurement Committee .

Newman himself does not have a major committtee chair, as he will have hoped for, but he will be the senior councillor on the audit and risk committee. He also has the three harbours portfolio, which gives him considerable influence on a big range of environmental, recreational and commercial matters around the city.

All the key jobs have gone to Goff loyalists, except chair of the Finance and Performance Committee.

That's with Orakei's Desley Simpson, who will have an interesting time this term. She's a National Party insider who has supported Goff's policy of small but steady rates rises and been instrumental in making his value-for- money programme work. But she voted often against the mayor last term, on a range of proposals.

As finance chair she has become much more powerful, and with a general election next year she will play a critical role in determining the attitude of the National Party towards council.

Her deputy is newcomer Shane Henderson, from Waitākere, a rising star in the Labour Party and, at 32, the youngest councillor. Goff has created a fun-to-watch team there: if it works, it could set the template for a co-operative council across the board.

Planning also has a "complementary" style leadership, but of a different kind. North Shore's Chris Darby, one of the best big-picture thinkers and detailed policy wonks on council, retains his position as chair. His new deputy, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki's Josephine Bartley, who is Samoan, is popular, witty and intensely people-focused. In background and style they're almost complete opposites and they should have much to teach each other. It's an inspired pairing.

The big new task of creating a climate change focus will be led by second-term councillor, North Shore's Richard Hills, with the fourth newcomer, Waitematā's Pippa Coom, as his deputy. Both are Goff loyalists.

The new Community Committee sees Manukau's long-serving councillor Alf Filipaina taking the chair of a major committee for the first time, with the also long-serving Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa councillor Cathy Casey at his side. Casey comes to her new job having had charge of the council's advisory panels (seniors, youth, rainbow, disabilities and so on), a role she relished.

Like Newman, other Goff opponents mostly have relatively minor roles. Sometimes that's all they wanted. Fa'anana Efeso Collins of Manukau has been given the portfolio of homelessness but is believed to have wanted nothing else. Paul Young of Howick has the new ethnic communities portfolio, the only role he sought. Howick's Sharon Stewart and Albany's Wayne Walker are the chair and deputy, respectively, of the civil defence committee.

Christine Fletcher, who stood on the John Tamihere ticket against Goff, is again Goff's deputy on the appointments committee, and has picked up the new portfolio role of parks.

The head count, on paper, suggests that on most issues Goff is likely to have the support of three quarters of the councillors. It should mean a productive three years.

And with so many new appointments to meaty roles, it should also mean a term when a new generation of council leadership rises to the surface.

But three years is a long time in politics. They have to sort out Auckland Transport and the other CCOs, put climate change at the heart of all decision making, keep spending under control and - the task that is most often overlooked - help raise up the aspirations, engagement and achievements of the city's south. The work starts now.