‘Super City’ option gets little support
Retaining Wellington region’s eight city councils and strengthening the Greater Wellington Regional Council, was the favoured option at a ‘‘super city’’ meeting in Porirua last week.
More than 150 people gathered for a public forum on the super city issue last Thursday night, and most who spoke were in favour of two-tier local government, one of six options being discussed across the region.
Six community leaders had five minutes each to comment on amalgamation, after which members of the public had two minutes to put forward their views.
Creating a Wellington super city would be of most benefit to Wellington city, businessman and community volunteer Chris Kirk-Burnnand said.
‘‘Do we want to be responsible for the high costs of Wellington City? Absolutely not.’’
Porirua’s high rates were already crippling our businesses, he said.
‘‘If we continue like we have here the last 10 years we will be rated out of existence and we will have no soul left.’’
However, combining on some ventures with Wellington, Hutt City and Upper Hutt City councils would benefit Porirua. For example, Kilbirnie’s indoor sports centre could have been built somewhere more accessible to Porirua players.
‘‘It’s not about super city. It’s about economic efficiency and
communit’y Businessman and volunteer Chris Kirk-Burnnand individual freedoms for everybody.’’
Lindsay Gow, former environment ministry deputy secretary, said Porirua does not have the wealth base of other councils and a degree of amalgamation would ease rates increases.
‘‘Clearly this wonderful city isn’t going to last if the rate increases keep going at the rate they’re going.’’
The only champion of retaining the status quo was Whitby Sections director David Bradford, who was mayor of Queenstown during 1989’s local body amalgamations. Amalgamation results in a lumbering, faceless governing body with little local input, he said.
There was strong support from most speakers for retaining local control of decision-making no matter what model is adopted, with speaker Robyn Moore emphasising the success of Porirua’s village plans.
Support for a super city model came from the Maori community.
Local iwi Ngati Toa extends from Kapiti to Marlborough, so has a wider perspective already, pro-vice chancellor of Victoria University Piri Sciascia said.
‘‘It’s about looking beyond the confines of Porirua.’’
Maori opinion must be included in an amalgamation decision, Cannons Creek residents’ association chairman Aporo Joyce said.
‘‘The issue of Maori participation must be addressed early. Avoid it being an afterthought, with the fury that’s going to emanate from that.’’
Concerns were voiced from the public that the submissions closing date, June 30, was too soon for the community to properly respond.
However, Porirua City Council chief executive Gary Simpson reassured the crowd there would be further public consultation later, and late submissions this round would be read.
He did not rule out a report being commissioned to allow the wider Porirua public to fully understand and comment on the amalgamation options.
The six options come from a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by Wellington’s mayors, but the mayors have not adopted it and are open to all suggested models.
Mr Simpson said a regional preferred option would be adopted, and this may be found outside of the six options, as PricewaterhouseCoopers based its research on Auckland’s very different needs.
‘‘The objective of this debate in Wellington is to improve efficiency, not to fix disfunctionality like Auckland.’’
Socks galore: Elijah Pau’u from Cannons Creek School does his part in the world record attempt for a 3km clothesline of red socks.