Big money allocated to projects in central city an issue in area lacking some basic facilities
After three years of trying to fit in with a fast city set, rural communities to Auckland's north are weighing up the worth of being under the Super City umbrella.
In the Rodney Ward, attention is going on local needs which are basic yet unsatisfied.
For example, in Warkworth, which is designated a satellite town to relieve city growth pressure, locals would love an all-year swimming facility for the large number of retirees.
Dairy Flat School has a parking problem and wants a kilometre of footpath so pupils can be dropped off at the community hall carpark and form a walking schoolbus.
The big money earmarked for central Auckland's infrastructure catch-up has renewed efforts by the Northern Action Group to form a breakaway unitary council for 15,000 to 20,000 residents from Puhoi to Pakiri.
At election meetings across the 83km from Kumeu to Wellsford, residents are asking their representatives for "more".
Penny Webster, a former Rodney District Council mayor and Act MP, says she has won extra money for infrastructure - despite the budget savings drive - during her term as the Rodney Ward councillor.
"I think I have done reasonably well in a difficult time; we have done the setting-up and now we have the bedding-in for the next three years.
"I have the ear of the staff and get on well with Mayor Len Brown and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and I have put Rodney's case really well."
Mrs Webster was appointed to chair the influential strategy and finance committee.
She said she was able to look at a big city perspective while knowing rural issues like Rodney's - roading, subdivision and economic development.
Rodney's joining the Super City had advantages.
Helensville's waste water treatment plant was in such poor condition by the 2010 merger that new connections were put on hold. However, house building has resumed after council-controlled agency Watercare Services began a $5 million upgrade.
"I look at Helensville and the millions that Watercare is going to spend there. We, as Rodney District Council, could never have done that."
Her sole challenger for another term is Rodney Local Board deputy chairman Steve Garner, who is sales manager for the Summerset Retirement Village in Warkworth and a member of Mahurangi College Board of Trustees.
He believes Rodney is not being heard strongly enough at the council's governing body level.
"I am committed to achieving positive and lasting change for Rodney and due to my current involvement with the local board, I have the ability to work closely and effectively with the other members."
Mr Garner said Rodney was different in its geographical and demographic make-up from other council wards and local board.
Covering 46 per cent of the Auckland area, it had rural and coastal communities which had poor road links - 650km of its roads were still unsealed.
The local board has pushed for the $760 million motorway extension state highway from Puhoi to Wellsford to relieve congestion and boost economic development on the eastern side of Rodney.
Present Rodney Local Board chairman Bob Howard is standing again in the board's Kumeu subdivision.
He expects "a big three years" coming up, because of the effects of the Unitary Plan, under which Auckland's rural north and northwest could have to provide for 35,000 houses and jobs for 18,000 over 30 years.
"The new board will have to deal with area plans and structure plans to meet the demand for development in our areas.
"We will need to make sure that the existing communities are not disadvantaged by pressure on facilities and have their local links - footpaths and roading - brought in line with new developments."
In the Dairy Flat subdivision, board member John McLean said he was concerned that the rural area gave $4.5 million a year in rates yet locals went without sealed roads and provided their own water and waste treatment.
The average rural rates for a Dairy Flat property was about $4000.
"We are a catchment for rates for Auckland but we get very little in return."
A contest in the Warkworth subdivision has arisen with live-wire board member Tracey Martin retiring after becoming a NZ First MP.
Her mother Anne is seeking to replace her and so is Bruce Manson, a resource management consultant who is co-chair of the Warkworth Area Liaison Group and Bruce Scoggins, chairman of the Mahurangi East Ratepayers Association.
"I see Warkworth at risk of becoming irrelevant in the wider Auckland region and its need for infrastructure and communications facilities being overshadowed by the current focus on major central Auckland projects," said Mr Manson.
One of three seeking to represent the Wellsford subdivision, Tony Sowden is the organiser of the town's last six Santa Parades and wants to represent it in the best light.
"Large changes are coming our way, with the SH1 diversion mooted to go fast track affecting us all. I want to protect our existing businesses and lifestyle."
Ethnicity: European 80.7%, Maori 10%, Asian 2.4%, Pasifika 2.3%
Median age: 39 years
Median household income: $59,124
Current councillor: Penny Webster
Penny Webster (Independent), Steve Garner
Local Board candidates
Wellsford subdivision (1 seat)
James Colville, Thomas De Thierry (Independent), Thomas O'Rourke (Conservative), Tony Sowden
Kumeu subdivision (4 seats)
Paula Daye (Independent), Vivien Dostine (Independent), Warren Flaunty, (Independent), Thomas Grace, (Independent), Morgan Hancock, (Independent), Bob Howard, Phelan Pirrie, (Independent), Brenda Steele, Oliver Vitali, (Conservative)
Warkworth subdivision (3 seats)
Geoffrey Bowes, Steven Garner, Nathaniel Heslop (Conservative), Beth Houlbrooke (Independent), Bruce Manson, Anne Martin, Regan Monahan (Conservative), Greg Sayers, Bruce Scoggins (Independent), June Turner (Action with Results)