Area loses a voice on council
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.
Perfect pav: Nosh chef Anthony Joseph says a good pav goes over the top in indulgence.