The move into Alert Level 3* will be of relief for Aucklanders who have done their bit to keep all of Aotearoa safe but it is not the time to become complacent. Mass mask wearing, getting vaccinated in large numbers and following the golden rules of lockdown gives us the most favourable chance of moving out of restrictions as soon as possible.
A robust health response is the best insurance for avoiding a return Alert Level 4 lockdown. At that setting up to 30% of Auckland’s economic activity is inhibited (approx. $100 million loss in GDP/day), while the reduction caused by Alert Level 2 is around 5%. This represents a significantly disparate impact on Auckland’s economy compared to the rest of New Zealand. Prior to the recent delta outbreak, Auckland had already spent nearly a month longer at Alert Level 3 than the rest of New Zealand due to community cases in August 2020 and February 2021. Over the 12 months ending March 2021, Auckland’s GDP fell 4.1% (-$4.98 billion), while the rest of NZ only fell 1.2% (-$2.38 billion), a $2.6 billion disparity. This aligns with spending data, which shows that spending in Auckland was down 7.5% over the same period, compared to only a 2% drop across the rest of New Zealand.
The hospitality and tourism sectors have been particularly hard hit by the extended lockdown. Due to spending more time at Alert Levels 3 and 2 in August and September 2020, as well as in February and March 2021, Auckland hospitality and accommodation spending was down 20.4% from April 2020 – March 2021, while the fall was only 7.5% across the rest of New Zealand. This data comes from Auckland Unlimited, the council CCO responsible for leading support for business. To receive regular updates subscribe via Business@aucklandnz.com.
Two key areas of financial support for businesses right now are the Resurgence Support Payment and the Wage Subsidy Scheme. Eligible businesses can apply for both of these payments. Helplines like the COVID-19 Business Helpline (0800 500 362) or Pacific Business Trust Helpline (0800 287 7526) are available to talk it through. The Mayor has raised with the Minister of Finance the need for further government support for businesses including extending financial support via the wage subsidy and continued resurgence payments throughout the duration of Alert Level 2. He’s also written to Minister Hipkins asking for consideration to be given to long-term, fit for purpose quarantine facilities out of the city centre.
Council is offering flexibility and support in a more relaxed approach during Alert Level 2 to help the hospitality sector. Fast-tracked new street trading licences and extensions to food-only dining applications are now available to Auckland businesses as they prepare for Alert Level 2 trading. Visit the council website for details. Find out what support is available to Auckland businesses here (this information was updated on 1 October).
I’ve also asked for the 21/22 postponement scheme for business rates to be re-established as I know that is another way council can provide support at this really difficult time. I’ve appreciated hearing from business association representatives with ideas and advice. Auckland Council has a role to reinvigorate economic activity across Auckland and in the city centre, as alert level restrictions allow. Please reach out for the support available.
This is my Councillor report covering the period from 7 October to 2 November. It has been prepared for the November business meetings of the Aotea Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā Local Boards.
The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events and key meetings, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.
Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
Board Member, Local Government New Zealand National Council
Member, Auckland Domain Committee
Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
Member, Joint Governance Working Party Member, Waste Political Advisory Group
On 15 October the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee approved the Public Art Regional Work Programme
The committee also approved the Sport and Recreation Facility Investment Fund preliminary allocation programme for 2020-2023.
On 22 October the Finance and Performance Committee received an update on progress for financial year 2020/2021; an update on the Value for Money programme and an update on commercial arrangements for the 36th America’s Cup.
The committee also recommended adoption of the draft Annual Report 2019/2020 to the Governing Body.
On 27 October the CCO Oversight Committee agreed that the name for the council-controlled organisation comprised of the merger of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) will be: Auckland Unlimited. It was noted that work on a Te Reo Māori name is also progressing, with involvement from the Mana Whenua Forum and individual iwi. Te Reo Māori name will be gifted to the new organisation in the near future.
On 29 October the Governing Body agreed to a two year extension of the Tripartite Economic Alliance between Auckland, Los Angeles and Guangzhou.
The Governing Body also adopted a proposal to put in place a new bylaw regarding Navigation Safety and adopted the Auckland Council Annual Report 2019/2020. For the first time the Annual Report includes a Volume 4 highlighting disclosures on climate-related financial risk. Disclosures of this type play a key role in how organisations direct capital flow towards climate positive solutions and investments. Reporting of the group’s response to climate change risk also holds the group publicly accountable, and ensures the business maintains its focus on addressing climate change risk at all levels across the group.
The preparation of Volume 4 using the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework represents global best-practice in climate disclosure. It aligns with the government’s plan for mandatory TCFD disclosures from 2023 and provides an example for other organisations seeking to disclose their approach to managing climate risk.
Other key meetings and events
Councillors had a recess week 5 – 9 October (no official meetings) but I took the opportunity to meet with the GMs ofHeart of the City and Karangahape Road Business Association; met with staff from Auckland Transport for an update on the Road Safety Programme; met the new CEO and carried out a site visit with a constituent regarding coastal enhancement in Mechanics Bay.
On 10 October I attended the first opening of Artweek Auckland 2020: Waiheke sculptor Anton Forde’s MINE. This is the 10th year of the week-long festival. We made it to Alert Level 1 just in time to celebrate the visual arts of Auckland.
On 12 October I met with Panuku to discuss the Wynyard Point Masterplan consultation and attended the Kelmarna Gardens consultation meeting held at Bread and Butter to share future plans for the organic farm
On 13 October I attended Late Night Art in the City Centre for Art Week
On 15 October I attended Open Late in the Arts Precinct on K’rd and opening night of SALTWATER/Interconnectivity at Tautai Gallery for Artweek 2020 with Councillor Josephine Bartley
On 16 October Councillor Richard Hills and I attended the Manukau Harbour Forum workshop
On 19 October I supported Councillor Josephine Bartley standup at the Raw Comedy Festival Semi-Final (she made it through to the finals)
On 20 October I attended the International Women’s Caucus hui at the invitation of Pacific Women’s Watch-NZ, the Waitematā Local Board meeting and the Weed Management Political Advisory Group meeting
On 22 October I attended the Connect Art opening at Galleria. A major City Rail Link contract has ended after 4 years with the completion of the tunnel under Albert St and reinstatement of the street with wider footpaths, trees, and new furniture. To celebrate the contractor Connectus and CRL commissioned local artists to create artworks using old project signage
On 23 October I visited the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki with Councillor Richard Hills for an introduction to new work at the gallery I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen) by the internationally acclaimed artist, Candice Breitz with director Kirsten Lacy. We also met MP (elect) for Auckland Central Chloe Swarbrick. The backdrop to the photo right is a climate catastrophe work explored in performance art by acclaimed NZ artist Alicia Frankovich. AQI2020 is a commissioned choreographic work drawing upon the imagery, personal stories and news media that emerged during the Australian bush fire season of summer 2019–2020.
On 24 October I was invited to be a panelist at the New Zealand Institute of Planners (Auckland Branch) climate change discussion: ‘A well-timed disaster’ (I was gifted a bottle of wine)
On October 25 I volunteered to do surveying as part of Biketober valet bike service offered at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market.
On 29 October, Executive Officer Alex Rogers, Hauraki Gulf Forum and I met with MP (elect) for Auckland Central Chlöe Swarbrick. We discussed the state of the Gulf and how we can heal it together, something Chlöe has identified as a priority.
On 29 October I spoke at the Again Again Auckland crowdfunding to build a tech platform to open access to reusable serveware launch. Again Again is a circular, sharing economy system for reusable cups.
For 3 days 30 October to 1 November I attended the Waiheke Marine Project’s Future Search Hui: How to protect and regenerate Waiheke’s marine environment. There were no costs for me to attend the Hui.
On 2 November I attended the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting and workshop and the Western Bays Community Group AGM (via Zoom)