Councillor monthly report November 2020

General update

Opening night of  SALTWATER/Interconnectivity at Tautai Gallery for Artweek 2020 with Katharine Losi Atafu- Mayo, artist Shawnee Tekii, Tautai Director, Courtney Sina Meredith and Councillor Josephine Bartley

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


  • Some of the new MPs elected to parliament on 17 October 2020

    An historic NZ General Election result on 17 October looks like being good news for Auckland (Ponsonby News: A new government to deliver for Auckland).

  • Weekly Finance and Performance workshops continued as part of the Long Term Plan (2021-2031) process.
  • Auckland Council has so far made $78million of savings towards our target of $120million (OurAuckland Performance on Track with Emergency Budget)
  • Our new CCO formed through the merger of Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) will be named ‘Auckland Unlimited
  • 1 November marked 10 years since the amalgamation of 8 former councils into Auckland Council (Ponsonby News update: Super City turns 10)

Covid-19 Response

All of New Zealand continues at Alert Level 1. The majority of my meetings have returned to face-to-face format but with the option of Skype where required.

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 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
with Councillor Josephine Bartley and artist Telly Tuita at Tautai Art Gallery
  • 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)

The Super City turns 10

I’m happy to admit to having been a Super City sceptic.  In the lead up to the forced amalgamation 10 years ago of Tāmaki Makaurau’s eight councils into Auckland Council I had become active in community-led development.  The governance structure for the new body, with the majority of council business driven by Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs), didn’t appear to sit well with local decision making and sustainable community building.  If there had been a referendum, I’m sure I would have joined the majority of Aucklanders in voting “no” to a Super City.

10 years on I’m convinced the Super City has been for the best.  It shifted the strategic planning up a gear and made it possible to transform Auckland into truly international city.  It brought to an end the many, and often expensive, conflicts between the former councils and the old Auckland Regional Council and set the foundation for bold action and a united vision for the region.  Grass roots decision making has been able to flourish via local boards who are funded to make things happen within their communities.  This is particularly satisfying for the parts of the city neglected by their former councils.

However, throughout the 10 years I have been on Auckland Council, first as a local board member and since October 2019 as the Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf ward, I’ve consistently felt uneasy and frustrated with the CCO model.  It has been difficult to justify the lack of real control by democratically elected decision makers for over half of council’s operational budget when many of the promised benefits of CCOs have failed to materialise.

Over the years I’ve got to know Auckland Transport (AT) especially well because one of the reasons I put myself forward for public office in the first place was to make Auckland a great place to cycle as part of a sustainable, safe, healthy, connected city.   The stars seemed to align with funding, political backing and broad community support almost from the get-go.  The CCO model should have allowed AT to focus on delivery without operational interference from politicians.  However, it has been painfully slow going and AT’s approach to consultation has pleased no one.  So much of what the local board achieved in my time – greenways, traffic calming, pedestrian safety, street trees – was despite AT rather than as a result of AT operating as a CCO.

The review of Council’s CCOs by an independent panel led by Miriam Deans released on 11 August found many of the ways to improve the model, accountability, and culture of CCOs hiding in plain sight.  The report is written in plain English, the recommendations are easily digestible and make sense.  The review has forced the Auckland Council “family” to collectively reflect on our role in making the governance structure work effectively for Aucklanders.

The panel found the CCO model is overall fit for purpose but needs to be strengthened using many of the tools and mechanisms available.   It established that there’s significant room for improving the council’s relationship with and oversight of the CCOs.  One of the key recommendations is for AT to urgently review how it designs, consults on, funds and implements minor capital works.   These kinds of projects have been the source of much of my own frustration in dealing with AT and led to public criticism of CCOs being “out of control”.

On 27 August Auckland Council’s Governing Body agreed unanimously to progress all 64 of the panel’s recommendations. This includes agreeing to the merger of two CCOs—Regional Facilities Auckland and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development into a single entity to be established by 1 December 2020.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Super City I’m looking forward to the reset provided by the CCO review. I don’t think implementation will be as simple and straightforward as presumed by the panel due to the deep rooted cultural and systemic shakeup needed.  Nonetheless, I’m hopeful that the implementation of the recommendations will be a circuit breaker to move beyond the scapegoating of the Super City and its CCOs so we can focus on achieving the best from all parts of Auckland Council.

First published in Ponsonby News October 2020