Councillor report December 2019

Pippa Coom Councillor Report – Waitematā and Gulf Ward

General update

  • This is my first Councillor report prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ business meeting agendas.
  • It covers the period from election day on 12 October until 24 November 2019.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.

Governing Body and Committee meetings

  • The Auckland Council governing body, made up of the Mayor and 20 Councillors, was sworn in at the inaugural meeting held at the Town Hall on 1 November. This was a ceremonial occasion with entertainment by the Chinese Blossom Arts Troupe, Auckland City Scoundrels and Sistema Aotearoa performing Maranga Ra composed by Rob Ruha (photo above taken by Ronald Andreassend:  the official party arriving for the inaugural meeting on 1 November held at the Town Hall).
  • Along with the other 3 new Councillors I gave my maiden speech to the governing body meeting on 5 November
  • At the governing body meeting on 12 November the committee structure and appointments were confirmed. I’m really delighted to be confirmed as:
    • Deputy Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee working with Chair Richard Hills (one of 4 committees of the whole plus all councillors are on the CCO oversight committee).
    • A member of the Appointments and Performance Review Committee
    • A member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum
    • Auckland Council representative on the National Council of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ)
  • Induction for Councillors started on the 17 October and has continued with sessions on legal obligations, standing orders, finance for governing body members, and a range of briefings (photo right: Councillors were treated to lunch in the council café as part of the induction day)
  • The Mayor has introduced a fortnightly catchup with Councillors that started on 4 November with a discussion regarding the proposed CCO review. This review is strongly supported by all Councillors.
  • The new committee structure is in the process of being set up and a range of briefings have got underway. It has been confirmed that the Environment and Climate Change Committee will cover the following areas:
    • Climate change mitigation and adaption policy and implementation
    • Coastal renewals, slips and remediation
    • Auckland Climate Action Framework
    • Natural heritage (including ecology and biosecurity matters such as kauri dieback)
    • Protection and restoration ofAuckland’s ecological health
    • Water including Auckand’s Water Strategy
    • Waste minimisation
    • Acquisition of property relating to the committee’s responsibilities and in accordance with the LTP
    • Grants for regional environmental outcomes

The first meeting is scheduled for 28 November.

Events and other meetings

  • Over the course of one week I attended the three local board inauguration meetings in my ward as well as the inaugural meetings of the Albert-Eden Local Board, Puketāpapa Local Board and Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board. I had the opportunity for an initial meet and greet with the Waiheke Local Board before their inauguration meeting on 4 November. Photo right with the new Waiheke Local Board.  From the left Deputy Chair – Bob Upchurch, Cr Pippa Coom, Paul Walden, Kylee Matthews, Mayor Phil Goff and Robin Tucker, Front, Chair – Cath Handley
  • Photo with the new Aotea Great Barrier Local Board. From the left, Cr John Watson, Deputy Chair – Luke Coles, Cr Pippa Coom, Sue Daly, Chair – Izzy Fordham, Valmaine Toki and Patrick O’Shea following the inauguration meeting on 31 October
  • Photo left with the former Waitematā Local Board Chair Shale Chambers on the left and new Chair, Richard Northey in the middle, following the inaugural meeting of the Waitematā Local Board on 30 October.
  • At the Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board inaugural held at Ngā Kete Wānanga Marae on 5 November with Councillors Josephine Bartley, Cr Pippa Coom, Alf Filipaina and Fa’anana Efeso Collins
  • On 22 October I attended the Auckland Transport board meeting to support the decision on the bylaw which will reduce speed limits on around 10% of Auckland’s urban and rural roads. Following public feedback, most of Auckland’s city centre will have a speed limit of 30km/h (the current 10km/h combined pedestrian and vehicle zones will remain) apart from Hobson, Fanshawe and Nelson Streets which will be 40km/h with engineering treatments to protect vulnerable road users.
  • Auckland Transport elected member morning tea and introduction to AT on 1 November.
  • Meeting to discuss active modes programme with Bike Auckland representatives and Cr Darby on 14 November
  • Fortnightly transport updates relating to ward issues
  • On Friday 22 November I hosted my first Councillor “clinic” at the Waiheke Local Board officers (advertisement right). My first Councillor event on Aotea Great Barrier is scheduled for 29 November with time for booked appointments and an afternoon tea.

I also attended the following events:

  • Late Night Art on 14 October
  • AT Board Rotation farewell event for Lester Levy and Mark Gilbert on 22 October
  • Ponsonby Business Association AGM on 22 October
  • Opening of White & Wong restaurant in Newmarket on 23 October at the invitation of NBA
  • K’rd Business Association AGM on 24 October
  • TUIA 250 Ki Tāmaki Makaurau – Civic Reception at Maritime Museum on 25 October
  • Tour de Waiheke organised as part of the Waiheke Cycling Festival on 2 November (photo right)
  • St Marys Bay Association AGM on 6 November
  • Grey Lynn Business Association AGM on 6 November
  • K3 Legal event on 7 November in the Maritime Room
  • U2 concert and entertainment in the corporate suite at Mt Smart on 8 November at the invitation of Regional Facilities Auckland
  • Armistice Day Commemorations at Auckland Museum on 11 November
  • Ludo Campbell-Reid’s Poroporoaki (farewell) after 13 years championing urban design for Auckland Council on 11 November
  • Herne Bay Residents Association AGM on 13 November
  • City Rail Link tunnel stakeholder walk through on 16 November (photo right with Cr Richard Hills)
  • Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s The New Zealand Herald Premier Series Conflict & Triumph at the Town Hall on 14 November at the invite of Geraint A. Martin (Chairman) and Barbara Glaser (Chief Executive)
  • Parnell Festival of Roses hosted by the Waitemata Local Board on 17 November
  • Launch of the Viaduct Harbour Local Living Compost Hub on 19 November
  • A Gala Concert in the Presence of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to celebrate the launching of the new name of the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre at the Aotea Centre on 20 November (at the invitation of Regional Facilities Auckland)
  • Viewing of the PUSH movie (a gut-wrenching story about housing, injustice and those fighting for better housing at the grass roots) on 21 November at the Academy Cinema at the invitation of the Auckland Community Housing Providers Network
  • Attended the Kai Conscious lunch at the Waiheke Sustainability Centre on 22 November
  • Spoke at the opening of Tatai Whenua – TUIA 250 Encounters exhibition  at the Waiheke Community Art Centre on 22 November (photo right taken by Peter Rees, one of the artists in the exhibition)
  • World Premiere of My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak by Ahi Karunaharan at Q Theatre on 22 November at the invitation of Silo Theatre
  • Grey Lynn Park Festival on 23 November
  • Enjoyed the Santa Parade from the VIP area on 24 November with my 5 year old nephew at the invitation of the Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust
  • 40th anniversary service of Air New Zealand flight TE901 in the presence of the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy at Holy Trinity Cathedral
  • Pride Launch at the Auckland Art Gallery on 24 November

Regional consultation topics

Southwest Gateway Programme

  • There’s been a lot of debate about extending heavy rail to the airport. I make use of the service train that currently exists via Papatoetoe station (only $4.80 from Newmarket). From 2021 it is going to be even more straight forward with priority bus lanes from Puhinui station to the airport. Confirmation this work is going ahead means the debate is over about heavy rail all the way to the airport. Feedback on a range of projects within the Southwest Gateway Programme is open until 8 December.

OuterLink and 650 bus services

  • Consultation went underway on 11 November on proposed changes to some Crosstown services, including the OuterLink and 650 bus services.
    • The proposed changes should result in:
      • A more reliable OuterLink, with less bunching
      • A high frequency Balmoral Crosstown service, the new 65
      • Quicker journey times on the remaining portion of the OuterLink, with fewer (hopefully nil) timing points

Regional grants

  • The Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant Fund and Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund applications will be coming to the Environment and Climate Change committee on 29 November

Significant issues and ward issues

NZ International Convention Centre Fire

  • On 23 October, the day after the NZICC fire started I visited the Auckland Council’s Emergency Coordination Centre and was given a quick tour by Sarah Sinclair Acting GM, Auckland Emergency Management. The response to the NZICC fire was managed by Fire & Emergency but the centre sprung into action staffed by council volunteers to provide support across logistics, comms, welfare and health services.In the photo right I’m standing with Sarah in front of a big screen showing live footage of the roof of the convention centre with fires still visible.

Hardship fund for Albert Street businesses

  • I welcomed the news on 31 October that the Government and Auckland Council have brought forward work on establishing a hardship fund for businesses in Auckland’s Albert Street to recognise the difficulty some have faced because of the delay in City Rail Link construction. I have supported Heart of the City in advocating for this fund.

New Network bus changes on Waiheke

  • On 22 November I was taken on a tour by Sue Pawly and Hana Blackmore (in the photo right in a decommissioned bus stop in Oneroa opposite the library) who are campaigning to restore essential bus services that were removed by Auckland Transport following new network changes on Waiheke to introduce greater frequency to the timetable.  I am working with the Waiheke Local Board on this issue.

Helicopters on Sentinel Beach

  • The rebuilding of a boat shed on Sentinel Beach allowing for a helicopter landing pad has been a long running issue. Strong opposition was voiced at the Herne Bay Residents Association AGM to the use of helicopters especially in the coastal environment. I have been advised that there is currently no application for a helicopter landing pad on this property. If there is in the future it will be a non-complying activity and it is likely it will be fully publicly notified.

Tree removal by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority

  • I’ve received a number of queries regarding concerns about the removal of 345 exotic trees from Ōwairaka / Mt Albert. I’ve provided a response along the following lines:
  • 14 tūpuna maunga including Ōwairaka / Mt Albert and Maungawhau/Mt Eden are co-governed by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority established in 2014 following a treaty settlement.  I’m not on the TMA but I acknowledge and respect the authority of the TMA and I support their management plans for the tūpuna maunga after decades of neglect by former councils (providing a link to information about the Authority).
  • The Authority is focused on the long-term restoration of the maunga and is underway to plant many thousands of trees.  The TMA is following advice on the ecological best practice regarding which exotic and pest trees need to be removed as part of the plans and the removal methodology.  You might also be interested to read why the Tree Council support the plans.
  • As the Ōwairaka / Mt Albert tree work is being undertaken by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority which is independent of Auckland Council, it is appropriate for the Authority to answer questions about the detail of their vegetation management. You can email  the Authority at  . I also understand that no trees that are notable, protected or scheduled will be removed as part of the restoration plans.


  • I am also following up a number of ward transport issues including opportunities to extend the Herne Bay walking and cycling improvements project by leveraging work proposed by Healthy Waters and Watercare, safety on the Western Springs Shared Path, and paid parking on Ponsonby Road not working satisfactorily to encourage turnover due to the low hourly rate for all day parking.


  • Since my election as Councillor I have been interviewed for Gulf News (Attachment 2), and the Barrier Bulletin (Attachment 3) and interviewed by Chris Walker on Waiheke Radio. I also have a regular column in Ponsonby news. My first column as Councillor was published in the November edition (Attachment 4)
  • I attended the media briefing for the High St tactical urbanism trial on 16 October and for the Mayor’s announcement of the new Committee structure and positions on 4 November
  • I was quoted in an Our Auckland story following the upgrade of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place project winning the Planning and Urban Design category in the 2019 New Zealand Architecture Awards

Conferences and seminars

ACENZ Panel discussion

  • On 15 October I was invited by ACENZ (Representing consulting and engineering professionals in Aotearoa) to be part of a panel discussion with Ida Dowling, Sarah Woodward and Alec Tang following a presentation by Auckland Transport CEO Shane Ellison on the Future Transport Challenges for Auckland

Trafinz Conference 2019

  • I attended the Trafinz (The New Zealand Local Authority Traffic Institute) 2019 conference in Hamilton on 12/13 November. I am on the Exec Committee of Trafinz. The conference theme focused on “Smart, safe and accessible places”.
  • Highlights from Wednesday’s programme included keynote sessions with Skye Duncan, the Director of the Global Designing Cities Initiative at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Putting people first: shaping urban streets for healthy and sustainable cities, Frith Walker, Panuku, Placemaking ‐if you are not doing it for people then you are doing it wrong and Prof Graham Currie, a renowned international Public Transport research leader and policy advisor from Monash university Transit fightback ‐ pushback on technology hype for stronger city futures
  • I co-hosted a Q&A panel  “bringing it all together” and provided the final thoughts on putting people first and roundup of the conference on behalf of Trafinz. I also got to announce that the conference next year will be in Auckland
  • My conference registration and one-night accommodation ($836) was covered by Auckland Council. I used a fleet car for transport to and from Hamilton


  • Since election day I have received the following gifts as well the invites noted above under events:
    • 2020 Calendar from the Moths and Butterfly NZ Trust (value unknown)
    • Sea Edge: Where the Waitemata meets Auckland coffee table book by Sir Bob Harvey (value $75)

Maiden Speech 2019

As one of four new Auckland Council councillors elected for the 2019-2022 term I had the opportunity to give a maiden speech to the inaugural governing body meeting on 5 November 2019:

Tēnā koutou e ngā rau Rangatira mā e huihui mai nei

E ngā mate, moe mai, moe mai

Ka hoki ki tēnēi ao

E te Whare e tū nei,

E te wāhi taonga nei nā Ngāti Whātua,

E ngā Mana Whenua me ngā Matāwaka,

E te Koromatua,

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e nga hau e whā

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou

Ko te kaupapa o tenei rā

Ka mihi whānui ki a koutou katoa, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Greetings to everyone gathered today.  I acknowledge mana whenua and the land we stand on.  I acknowledge this house of democracy.  I acknowledge the founders of Auckland from the earliest times and remember those who have passed.   I acknowledge the Mayor and all my councillor colleagues, friends, family, staff of the council whanau and those tuning in on the live stream.   A big huge warm mihi to you all.

It is a great honour to give a maiden speech as the newly elected Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf ward representing the beating heart of Tāmaki Makarau and the stunning gulf islands.  An area contributing 20% of Auckland’s GDP, of tremendous population growth, increasing diversity, major cultural institutions, world class places of learning with residents who experience everything from dense urban vertical living to off grid rural lifestyles.

I acknowledge my predecessor Mike Lee, long serving councillor and former Chair of the ARC.  Among many achievements he was instrumental in the renaissance of the Auckland’s public transport and expansion of the regional parks network.   Passing the torch graciously is not always easy and I wish him and Jenny well.

It’s a privilege to have been part of Auckland Council right from the exciting, but at times daunting, beginning in 2010. I acknowledge Auckland’s first Mayor Len Brown for his massive contribution that has yet to be written – and for also making those early days fun.  I pay tribute to my many colleagues over the years who have tried hard to make the super city experiment work for the best interests of our communities. It is very timely for the CCO review announced by the Mayor to examine the part of the governance model that was deliberately set up to corporatize Auckland and remove democratic decision-making.

I come to the governing body with the experience of nine years on the Waitematā local board working for, what can be summed up as, inclusive, accessible, safe, healthy, connected, sustainable, resilient communities for everyone to enjoy.  It has been a challenging but immensely satisfying and enjoyable time. I’d like to think that I bring to the big table the ability to get stuff done, make the most of modest budgets, work alongside community and business organisations always with a commitment to genuine partnership with mana whenua.  There is still much to learn, and I thank everyone who has supported me on that journey.

Former Chair Shale Chambers contribution to establishing the Waitematā Local Board and setting the foundations for strong local decision making across council can’t be underestimated.  Remarkably as the chair and deputy chair combo over 9 years we never once had a bust up.  I thank him for his support, guidance and for becoming such a strong advocate for Auckland being a great place to cycle even though you will never see him on a bike.

It was easy to let go knowing the Waitematā Local Board is in good hands under new chair Richard Northey and with an impressive team.  A shout out too to the wonderful, committed local board staff who support the board so professionally and effectively.

It goes with the territory to be on the receiving end of nasty comments and the odd insult.  Supposedly this includes “I get on well with bureaucrats and management”.   I think that means you Mr Town and your team!   Absolutely I will continue to value positive working relationships and collaboration with everyone who is committed to working for and serving the best interests of Auckland.  My role is to ask the difficult questions and to know when to challenge advice but I make a commitment to always do that with kindness, empathy and respect.  (just warning everyone I have a naturally resting bitch face that I can help!)

I acknowledge my fellow class of 2019 – Angela, Tracey and Shane. As former board chairs I believe we will bring to this table an approach of collaboration, cheerfulness and working together that we have experienced at the Chairs forum.  I know we are all here to bring our A game.  Actually forget A’s and B’s –  I am calling it now that I am on team C – Team collaboration!

Like everyone around this table I was elected independently.  What I do hold as a badge of pride is that I am part of the City Vision whanau and join Cathy Casey as a City Vision councillor.  Like Cathy I don’t belong to a political party and just to put the record straight there is no party master (at least I am yet to meet him or her or find the so called back room where the deals are meant to be taking place).   We are a progressive coalition with shared values of social justice, commitment to the Living Wage, outstanding public transport, environmental restoration, action on climate change, ownership of public assets, and a real say for local communities. We are upfront about what we stand for because we believe our role is far more than about us as individuals.

I respect that around this table we all come from different political traditions of the legacy councils.  But the reality is that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for being part of City Vision.  It was the only way for progressives to break the C&R stronghold over the old Auckland City Council.  I acknowledge and thank all those who have supported my election.  Robert Gallagher Chair of City Vision, Jeremy Greenbrook-Held, my campaign manager,  the wider support team of volunteers including on Waiheke and the great team of candidates I stood alongside.

In many ways my path here started early on with community activism, volunteering and community-building. Like 39% of Aucklanders I was born overseas.   I was born in London and raised in a post war new town called Hemel Hempstead where my politics were shaped from a young age by the threat of nuclear war, the toxicity of apartheid and the rise of Thatcherism.

My family immigrated to New Zealand just after I turned 14.  Surprisingly for that difficult teenage period it was a move I embraced (in my version of the family history it was actually my idea to immigrate here and thank god we did).   I immediately felt at home living in Ponsonby and attending Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, where my interests in service and activism were encouraged. It is also where my north London accent was beaten out of me! I acknowledge Miss Pountney my principal at AGGS who is here and who I am now allowed to call Charmaine and is a neighbour in Grey Lynn.

In 5th form I was a founding member of Auckland City Youth Council established under then Mayor Dame Cath Tizard.   Many of the issues then we sought to bring a youth voice to continue to this day but now with increased urgency led by school strike for climate.

I was fortunate to spend my last year of school as an AFS student in Peru and to have completed a law degree at Otago University.  I first experienced what it was like to be brutally defeated in an election when I came second to last for the OUSA exec well behind now Mayor of Whangerei Hamish McDouall.

My community activism continued during a 15 year legal career.   It was awesome to be mentored along the way by John Edwards who gave me my first legal job and is now the Privacy Commissioner and Una Jagose my manager at the Ministry of Fisheries in Wellington who is now the Solicitor General.

During this time my dad Mel Coom was killed in a car crash at the age of 49. Many years later, and now as Vision Zero campaigner, I’ve come to think of dad’s death not just as a family tragedy but also as an example of why the “safe systems” approach to creating a forgiving roading network is so vital. I applaud Auckland Transport for moving ahead with the slower speeds bylaw work and I will continue to be a tireless advocate for road safety and transport choice.

It was redundancy from an inhouse legal job at Vector over 10 years ago that really kick started my political career.  It allowed me to pursue my passions and to throw myself into community busybody-ness, cycling advocacy, sustainability as chair of the Grey Lynn Farmers Market and Trustee of Grey Lynn 2030, and organiser of major climate action events.    I am still working with many of the fabulous people that I met through that time and I give thanks for all the encouragement I received to pursue politics in particular from Suzanne Kendrick and Barb Cuthbert.

The challenge for this term of council cannot be overstated.   Bold leadership is needed like never before.  There can be no more business as usual.  Our agreed 1.5°c target requires urgent climate action in the next 10 years.  Everything has to be seen through the lens of the climate emergency and climate action must be at the heart of all our decision-making. I’m honoured to have the deputy chair role on the Environment and Climate Change committee working with Cr Hills as chair.   We have big shoes to fill to continue the work led by Penny Hulse.  I thank her also for her tremendous support to become councillor.

All of us as councillors need to be focused and prepared for the challenge ahead.

Decisions must be made for the long term, not just the short term

We must recognise the inter-relations between issues –  climate, water, coastal risks, public transport, the central city transformation, economic development- and the broad benefits we can deliver for all communities across Auckland if we take an integrated approach.

We must ensure we are not locked into future pathway that could increase our emissions and decrease our resilience to climate impacts.

Every community will be impacted by climate change so regardless of personal viewpoints around the table, everyone has an important role to play in terms of preparing our communities for the impacts and transitions to come.  We must ensure the inevitable transition is just.

It’s not just about a central city response, but from Rodney to Franklin, South Auckland and West Auckland. We need everyone around the council table reaching into their communities to help articulate the challenge ahead and also bring back the knowledge, insights, concerns and priorities to help craft community-specific responses to the climate emergency.  This is why we must all be team collaboration.

I know you have indulged me extra time for this speech.  But there are a few important acknowledgements I would like to end with.  I’d like to acknowledge the Mayor, our koromatua.  He is a good man with a warm heart who works incredibly hard for us all.  I’d just love him not to drive so much (even if it is an e-car) and have more time for experiencing our communities on foot or bike.   I think it is hugely symbolic that both the Mayor and councillor Fletcher have both spoken publicly about having grandchildren born in the week after the election.  There’s been a reset on a fresh start this term to work together for future generations.

My partner Paul, also known as the Dennis Thatcher of Auckland politics, is here. You won’t see him at much but he is a constant support behind the scenes (please forgive me for always having an excuse not to do housework).  Paul’s lack of interest in being my plus one is great news for my wonderful mum Barbara Grace who is always up for everything. Thank you to you both, my family and my wider urban whanau.

In the last week I’ve had the opportunity to attend the inaugural meetings of the local boards in my ward – Aotea Great Barrier, Waitematā and Waiheke (I have to fess up to missing the plane to Aotea and arriving late!) I look forward to building strong relationships with the three local boards, serving my entire ward and working hard to fulfil the aspirations of all Aucklanders.

There is a lot of work to get on with and I am here for it!

No reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa

Watch the maiden speeches here