Councillor monthly report June 2021

My Councillor report covers the period from 10 May 2021 until 5 June 2021.  It has been prepared for the June business meetings of the Aotea Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā Board Local Boards.

The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the public and local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events and 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, LGNZ National Council
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee
  • Member, Appointments and Performance Review Committee
  • Member, Joint Governance Working Party
  • Member, Waste Political Advisory Group


  • Recovery Budget, Auckland’s Long Term Plan (2021-2031) was passed on 25 May. My reasons for supporting the budget and response to the 600+ emails generated from a ratepayers group campaign “listen to your electorate: 43% rates hike is unjustified”
  • At the Waitematā Local Board on 18 May I provided a verbal update on the release of Council’s staff well-being report that found some staff are dealing with inappropriate behaviour from elected representatives and members of the public. Unfortunately, my councillor report to the local board provoked abuse and a violent threat made to a Local Board member (Stuff article: Auckland politician verbally abused by public while delivering report on bullying)
  • A decision was made to continue with the existing design for Queen Street redevelopments after feedback from a survey showing a clear preference for the original concepts. This is a move based on the principles backed by the co-design group, which had included stakeholders and residents.  (Our Auckland: Auckland Council’s people-focused design for Queen Street on track)
  • The Hauraki Gulf Forum workshop and meeting was held on Waiheke on 24 May.
  • I spoke at the Liberate the Lane rally on 30 May calling on Waka Kotahi (NZTA) to trail a lane on the Harbour Bridge for cycling, in a three-month trial this summer.I also took part in the peaceful protest that extended onto the bridge.
  • I continue to work with Waiheke Local Board Chair Cath Handley on compliance issues that have been raised at the Kennedy Point marina development site and the concerns regarding the Kororā Little Blue Penguin habitat.

Governing Body meetings – Key decisions  

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only.

On 13 May the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee 

  • Approved the demographic advisory panels’ strategic work programmes,
  • Received presentations from Action Education.
  • Agreed to implement changes and improvements to the Auckland Council whānau approach to minimise alcohol related harm in Auckland communities
  • Agreed to proposed land exchange Taniwha Reserve and Maybury Reserve, Glen Innes.
  • Declined the transfer of Papakura Senior Citizens Hall to Auckland Council (with the support of the Papakura Local Board)

On 18 May the Council Controlled Organisation Oversight Committee Reviewed shareholder comments on draft CCO Statements of Intent 2021-2024  and agreed to disestablish the Highbrook Park Trust as of 30 June 2021

One of the forum workshop presentations: Love Our Wetlands, Michael Maahs, General Manager, Waiheke Resources Trust & Pieter Tuinder, Programme Manager, Sustainable Business Network

On 24 May the Hauraki Gulf Forum reviewed the Governance Statement and Work Plan. Endorsed the continuation of the co-governance model. Adopted our budget for the next financial year.  We are on track to meet the specific outcomes we set for the 2020-2022 period (5% increase in marine protection, 3×100 ton restored shellfish beds, 100km of new riparian planting), except for ending marine dumping, which requires a legislative fix the current government is yet to commit to.

On 25 May the Finance and Performance Committee strongly supported the Mayor’s $31.8 billion Recovery Budget proposal. The Budget will now be formally adopted by the Governing Body next month. LTP Key decisions:

  • $90 million ongoing savings for Auckland Council.
  • $70 million annual asset recycling target for the first three years, with additional targets in subsequent years to reflect timing changes for asset recycling opportunities not realised in 2020/2021.
  • Additional borrowing as represented by the debt to revenue ratio of up to 290 per cent for the first three years, gradually returning to 270 per cent, with an intention to maintain council group’s current credit rating and a strong commitment to long-term financial prudence.
  • 5 per cent average general rates increase for 2021/2022 and 3.5 per cent annual average general rates increase thereafter.
  • A package of new climate actions totalling $152 million above existing spending to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change.

On 27 May the Governing Body received Auckland Council’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing performance report and adopted the Auckland Council Elected Members Code of Conduct. The Governing Body also agreed to amend the Animal Management Bylaw, create a new Trading, Events and Filming Bylaw, and include General Rules in A Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw.

Chair Cath presenting over Skype on behalf of the Waiheke Local Board

On 3 June the Planning Committee heard from all 21 local boards on their feedback on the Regional Land Transport Plan 2021 – 2031.  The themes were remarkably consistent: transport choices, mode shift, more walking and cycling options, equity, responding to growth, safety, local solutions to local issues and more action on climate change and emissions.

The Committee also approved the strategic transport outcomes for the Downtown Car Park site which, together with strategic outcomes previously agreed by the Planning Committee will inform a competitive market process. This, together with the removal of the Hobson St flyover has been long proposed as part of the city centre masterplan. I raised the issue that the Waiheke Local Board hadn’t been given the opportunity to provide input as requested.

The agreed strategic transport outcomes for a redeveloped Downtown Car Park site:

  1. i)        provision of a bus facility, either as part of the site redevelopment or by removing the Lower Hobson Street flyover and replacing the space underneath it with an on-street bus facility;
  2. ii)       provision for an accessible, flexible, multimodal transport hub that supports public access to micromobility, including end of journey facilities, mobility parking, and a micro freight distribution hub;

iii)      with no specification on the number of short stay car parks but responses to include details of the car parking required to meet the objectives of the development and any additional public short stay car parking they propose to provide

Other key meetings and events 

  • Caroline Lambert, EU Head of Trade, Wellington with Cr Richard Hills and Matthew Blaikie, Acting Chief Sustainability Officer

    On 10 May met Caroline Lambert, EU Head of Trade, Wellington and visited the Quay Street enhancements and Te Wānanga sites

  • Boopsie Moran, finalist for the 2021 3M Safety Innovation Award

    On 11 May I attended the opening of the Amazon Web Services and presented at the Decarbonising Transport Awards 2021 3M Safety Innovation Award

  • On 12 May I attended the Ockham NZ Book Awards.
  • On 13 May I attended the Auckland Writers Festival Gala.
  • On 14 May I attended the LGNZ Metro Sector meeting in Wellington via Zoom
  • Next Wave Youth Week panel discussion with local board member Alex Bonham and MP Chloe

    On 15 May took part in a Q&A at the Next Wave Youth Week final day gala at Ellen Melville Centre .

  • On 17 May I attended the NZ Herald premium debate on the future of Auckland’s Port.
  • Community members, staff and elected reps who attended the Waiorea Western Springs Resource Recovery centre blessing

    On 18 May attended the dawn blessing for the Waiōrea Community Recycling Centre which will be the new community-led resource recovery centre for Central Auckland and took part in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 Working Group

  • On 19 May I attended a session on Auckland’s strategic recovery from COVID-19.
  • On 21 May attended the LGNZ National Council meeting in Wellington
  • On 25 May I attended Media Design School Opening at Grid AKL
  • On 26 May attended the Waiheke Local Board meeting via Skype
  • On 27 May I attended NZ Ballet’s production of Gisele at the Aotea Centre
  • On 28 May and 4 June I was interviewed on bFM and attended the ‘Women’s Work – Underexposed’ exhibition launch at Ellen Melville Centre
  • On 30 May I spoke at the Liberate a Lane rally and took part in the peaceful protest on to the bridge
  • On 31 May attended the ACCAB workshop with a facilitated panel discussion led by Cr Hills regarding the Future Prosperity of the City Centre
  • Matariki Festival launch at Auckland Museum with local board members Alex Bonhan, Maria Meredith and Nick Bakulich

    On 1 June was invited to lunch with Professor Tony Ballantyne from the University of Otago and was gifted.

  • On 3 June attended Bike Breakfast at Sierra Café in the Viaduct hosted by Auckland Transport the Matariki Festival opening at Auckland Museum
  • On 4 June I attended the opening preview of Auckland Museum’s Te Whiwhinga The Imaginarium
  • On 5 June to mark World Environment Day and Arbor Day event got invited by Splice to take part in a Dedication of the Herbs with Auckland Central MP Chlöe. The stars of the show were definitely the city centre kids who did the planting in boxes on High St and readings for us too about the importance of plants.

Liberate the Lane rally

Photo: Bike Auckland

My brief speech

Ka rawe!

Amazing to see all of you here this morning to support Liberate the Lane.

How many of you were at the 2009 Get across rally?

Who enjoyed the walk or ride thinking you were on an official open day to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.?  If you did it-  like the heaps of mums with prams, kids, joggers, families out for an outing, riders, walkers, you were probably like me – got to half way point and thought hang on a minute that was such a gentle gradient – and wow the views !

How many of you were kids 12 years ago and thought when you grew up you’d be able to, of course, Get Across?

In fact, who can’t believe, like me that we are still protesting this shit?

Today is the 62 nd birthday of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.  The original plan included rail and pedestrian and bike paths but the miserable, short- sighted Holland Government cut it down to 4 lanes of cars.

62 years later WHAT DO WE WANT?


WHEN DO WE WANT IT?  NOW! (well we will settle for a trial in the Summer).

I shouldn’t have to say this but I am going to spell it out.  This is NOT a war on cars.  There is no war on the people of the North Shore held hostage by car dependency.

The cars are fine.  This is about lower emissions, less traffic, more transport choice, cleaner air, cheaper transport options, healthier communities and make making commuting fun!

Thank you for the invite to speak today and to all the organisers who have brought us together.  Kia ora.

On Auckland Council we support the discussions underway with Waka Kotahi about a trial of a walking and cycling lane on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and we’ve requested Waka Kotahi seek a practical solution to a cost effective walking and cycling crossing across the Auckland harbour. [a resolution passed through Cr Darby’s Planning committee 6 May 2021]

As Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf I can put it more bluntly: I support Liberating the Lane for at least a 3 month trial.  There is no political decision standing in the way of Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi working together to deliver a safe, connected network across all Tāmaki Makarau including getting us across the Harbour Bridge.   We know we have the collective power.  We just have to want to do it.

And I think the turn out today shows loud and clear the people want to LIBERATE A LANE.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā hau e wha.

Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa.

Updated: 1 June 2021

The peaceful protest on the Auckland Harbour Bridge

Photo: Jo Glaswell
Get Across rally 2009

I went along to the Liberate the Lane rally certain that I wouldn’t be taking part in a ride on the Auckland Harbour Bridge as I had in 2009.  Bike Auckland, the event organiser, didn’t promote a ride nor did any of the speakers, including myself, call for the storming of the bridge.

So how did I end up on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on a beautiful morning with 1500 other people? The day before the rally Auckland Transport advised of lane closures being put in place.  This created an expectation that authorities were anticipating the rally extending on to the bridge.  After the official speeches concluded in Pt Erin park many people flocked down to the bridge access road (Curran Street).  I went to take a look expecting to continue riding along Westhaven Drive.  When I got to the on ramp there was no police line, there were no officers giving instructions to not access the bridge; it was just an orderly queue of riders, walkers and people on every kind of micro-mobility (wheel chairs, scooters, skateboards,  and in prams) moving peacefully onto the bridge excited at the prospect of a Waitematā crossing on the 62nd birthday of the bridge ( I met a woman at the top who was celebrating her own 62nd birthday ).  Traffic management was in place closing the on ramp to vehicles and two lanes on the bridge (it wasn’t cyclists who closed the lanes).  I joined hundreds of others exercising our right to peaceful protest in what looked like an officially sanctioned rally onto the bridge.

Of course the media images and headlines gave a very different impression of the rally.  I don’t condone the actions of those who breached police lines with force or ignored police instructions.  I certainly didn’t lead the charge or encourage anyone to storm the bridge.  The vast majority of participants like me took part in a joyful, peaceful protest that highlighted the frustrations of not having an active transport connection between the North Shore and city centre for over 6 decades (the hashtag #LiberatetheLane provides countless positive pics and video)

I appreciate there are different views on whether, as an elected representative, I should have taken part.  I’ve reflected on that but consider I was exercising my right to peaceful protest just as I have many times at rallies on Queen St that also require traffic lanes to be closed and result in minor inconvenience to those not taking part.   An expression of people power for a cause is how change happens.

Further reading:

“Police were too kind to the cycle protestors” is misdirection at its finest.  Sarah Mohawk opinion piece

No plan for Harbour bridge cycle lane trial despite bike protests   Stuff, 1 June

 Liberate the Lane,  Greater Auckland