Area loses a voice on coun­cil

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

THE VA­CANT seat on the Auck­land City Coun­cil left by Maun­gakiekie MP Pe­seta Sam Lotu-Iiga will not be filled, de­spite a push to have Maun­gakiekie Com­mu­nity Board chair­woman Brid­get Gra­ham ap­pointed to the role.

At a meet­ing last Thurs­day the coun­cil voted against fill­ing the seat, which Mr Lotu-Iiga re­signed from in Oc­to­ber.

Gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion passed in prepa­ra­tion for Auck­land’s lo­cal body re­struc­ture means a by­elec­tion can not be held, so coun­cil­lors could only vote to leave the seat va­cant or nom­i­nate some­one else.

Maun­gakiekie Com­mu­nity Board mem­ber Si­mon Ran­dall spoke at the meet­ing, ad­vo­cat­ing for Mrs Gra­ham to be ap­pointed.

He said there were im­por­tant is­sues in Maun­gakiekie, which was now get­ting less rep­re­sen­ta­tion since Mr Lotu-Iiga re­signed.

“We have a good re­la­tion­ship with Sam and that will con­tinue, but I don’t think hav­ing a good lo­cal MP is a sur­ro­gate for hav­ing a good lo­cal coun­cil­lor.”

He said the pro­posal to ap­point Mrs Gra­ham to the seat had sup­port from both the Maun­gakiekie and Ta­maki com­mu­nity boards, the One­hunga En­hance­ment So­ci­ety and Labour list MP Carol Beau­mont.

Mr Ran­dall said he un­der­stood Mr Lotu-Iiga was also sup­port­ive of the idea and that Mrs Gra­ham had “huge pub­lic sup­port”.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive David Rankin said if Mrs Gra­ham was ap­pointed to the coun­cil she would have to re­lin­quish her po­si­tion on the com­mu­nity board and the board would have to de­cide whether or not to re­place her.

Mrs Gra­ham says she de­cided not to go to the meet­ing be­cause she didn’t want to “cloud the is­sue” by be­ing there. “It isn’t about me and whether I got on to the coun­cil, it’s a rep­re­sen­ta­tional is­sue.

“Maybe I should have gone, I could have put them right that it wasn’t about me.”

She says the com­mu­nity needs rep­re­sen­ta­tion and One­hunga faces many is­sues, in­clud­ing the fore­shore, rail­way and hav­ing two precinct plans un­der way.

“It’s not as if it’s a quiet, set­tled neigh­bour­hood hap­pen­ing.”

Had she been nom­i­nated for the seat, Mrs Gra­ham says she would have been happy to take on the role.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed that no­body is go­ing to be ap­pointed.”

At the meet­ing, deputy mayor David Hay said the ward still had three coun­cil­lors to rep­re­sent it on the two com­mu­nity boards.

“There is quite good rep­re­sen­ta­tion al­ready and in 11 months there will be a lot less rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

He said the coun­cil should have been de­bat­ing whether or not to re­place Mr Lotu-Iiga, not talk­ing about spe­cific peo­ple.

Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey said coun­cil­lor Richard Northey had been hold­ing the fort for Maun­gakiekie since Mr Lotu-Iiga put for­ward his name for Par­lia­ment shortly af­ter be­ing elected to the coun­cil.

She said Mrs Gra­ham knows the lo­cal com­mu­nity and the coun­cil should sup­port the de­ci­sion of the lo­cal boards.

“I think she is a good per­son to do this job. The peo­ple of Maun­gakiekie need rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the next wee while, they need some­one who can speak with a lo­cal voice and she has co­pi­ous amounts of lo­cal knowl­edge.”

Mayor John Banks said he was dis­ap­pointed to have the coun­cil dis­cussing Mrs Gra­ham in her ab­sence.

“It’s quite a trav­esty. She is a very good per­son and didn’t de­serve to have a de­bate about her in her ab­sence.” The clas­sic Kiwi dessert will be put through its paces next week as lo­cals com­pete for the ti­tle of premier pavlova.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Per­fect pav: Nosh chef An­thony Joseph says a good pav goes over the top in in­dul­gence.

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