Where all the action is
It’s where decisions affecting the lives of a million or so Aucklanders are made. But not many city residents see the inside of the Auckland Council debating chambers. Reporter Scott Morgan and photographer Shane Wenzlick went to see it for themselves.
It may be modest but the super-city debating chamber at the Auckland Town Hall is often a hive of activity.
Councillors with differing opinions share them with the room, sometimes loudly, while council officers run around handing out huge reports.
It’s a makeshift Auckland Council chambers, which has been used as a reception lounge and caretaker’s apartment in the past.
But mayor Len Brown says there is a good reason for not using the old chambers once inhabited by the former Auckland City Council.
‘‘The historic chambers downstairs are not big enough,’’ he says.
He has ‘‘given
some thought’’ to moving to the downstairs chamber but a lack of access for the public, council staff and media would be a major problem.
He says it is different to many of the old chambers spread from Rodney in the north to Franklin in the south.
‘‘It’s a pleasant environment to debate in but it’s fairly minimalist. No-one could ever accuse us of unnecessarily spending ratepayers’ money.’’
The alphabetical order of seating arrangements means councillors from different parts of Auckland sit next to each other.
That makes for some interesting combinations – for example, former Epsom MP Chris Fletcher sits next to Manukau councillor Alf Filipaina.
And that is just the way Mr Brown likes it.
‘‘Everyone’s alphabetical. People just get on with it. And I like that everyone sits down.
‘‘In Manukau councillors used to stand up to speak,’’ he says.
Alphabetical order: Councillors of all political persuasions are mixed around the council table due to the alphabetical seating plan.