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.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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