Auckland's regional governing body for 47 years held its closing meeting yesterday with pleas for the spirit of regionalism to be embraced by the Super City council.

Chairman Mike Lee opened an almost three-hour session of speeches by past and present councillors and staff by assuring "friends of regionalism" that although they stood at the end of a historic era, they faced "a bright future for Auckland".

Before bringing down his gavel for the last time, he described the 40,000ha of parkland acquired by his council and its Auckland Regional Authority predecessor since 1963 as its greatest legacy.

"I do believe that in our closing days we have kept alive that grand vision of our founding fathers, great Aucklanders like Sir Dove-Myer Robinson and F.W.O. Jones [founding chairman and chief executive respectively of the Auckland Regional Authority] the spirit of regionalism and the notion that Auckland is not just a place - Auckland is an idea," he said.

He led a vote of acknowledgement of "the exemplary performance" of council chief executive Peter Winder in steering the organisation through the difficulties of winding up.

Former regional chairwoman Gwen Bull expressed disappointment that Mr Lee and Sandra Coney were the only two of the 13-member council elected to the Super City.

"It will be up to you to make sure regionalism shines through - we need your experience," said Mrs Bull.

Former regional transport chairman Joel Cayford, who missed out on a North Shore seat in the Super City, said "a little bit of Auckland has died" with the ARC's demise and spoke of meeting staff who were wondering what to do under the new order.

"There was a feeling they don't want to work for a territorial local authority all about roads and pipes, they want to work for an environmental regulator, an organisation that cares for the environment, loves the environment," he said.

"I wonder what's going to happen when we don't have an ARC and the environmental regulator is cheek by jowl with the organisation that builds the roads and sewers - whether we will have the kind of environmental controls that we need."

Finance committee chairman Bill Burrill, the longest continuously serving regional councillor since being elected in 1992, urged on the Super City "the absolute necessity for the new rating system to recognise the food-producing farms which surround Auckland, a fair rating system that will support compact urban growth".

"The alternative will be urban sprawl from Te Hana to Bombay and beyond."

First-term regional councillor Brent Morrissey said Auckland was enduring changes which had temporarily stripped it of much of its democracy and capacity for self-government.

"There is ample evidence that the itinerant architects of the new council determined a strategy to exclude wherever possible the culture, function and personnel of the ARC," he said.

He paid tribute to Mr Lee's leadership in "managing the agenda of a hostile minister [Local Government Minister Rodney Hide] while overseeing the dismembering of his council and maintaining its functionality".