Rates a worry with su­per-city

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Porirua res­i­dents left Geoffrey Palmer in no doubt about what they think of the thorny amal­ga­ma­tion is­sue last Thurs­day.

The for­mer primer min­is­ter is chair­man of an in­de­pen­dent panel hold­ing a se­ries of pub­lic meet­ings to dis­cuss the fu­ture of lo­cal gov­ern­ment in this re­gion. The other mem­bers are for­mer Welling­ton City and re­gional coun­cil­lor Sue Driver, se­nior pub­lic ser­vant Sir Wira Gar­diner and busi­ness­man Bryan Jack­son.

To about 80 peo­ple at Pataka, Sir Geoffrey out­lined the aims of the panel, which has the back­ing of Porirua City and Greater Welling­ton coun­cils.

‘‘We have seen the [su­per city] developments in Auck­land. There are fea­tures, like spa­tial plan­ning, that have never been seen be­fore and must be con­sid­ered in any de­bate in Welling­ton,’’ said Mr Palmer.

‘‘But there are also fea­tures that are unique about this re­gion and we need to have a di­a­logue with you and then present a re­port.’’

Ini­tial queries from the floor were about what amal­ga­ma­tion would do to rates in Porirua. Bruce Twid­dle from Mana-Tawa Grey Power said su­per­an­nu­i­tants were al­ready feel­ing the pinch, with more than a third of their in­come al­ready go­ing to­wards rates.

Mr Palmer said there would al­ways be pres­sure on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties from cen­tral gov­ern­ment and a rat­ing re­view when look­ing at amal­ga­ma­tion was log­i­cal.

Com­ments to­wards the panel were well- thought out, in­tel­li­gent and im­pas­sioned. One man told the au­di­ence he moved to Porirua from Samoa and was afraid the cul­tural iden­tity and diver­sity that had made the city fa­mous would be crushed un­der the weight of any su­per-city.

‘‘Look at Tawa, it’s shop­ping mall has gone down and down. I’m wor­ried ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be about Welling­ton, Welling­ton, Welling­ton.’’

Ms Driver, who lives in Welling­ton, said she was jeal­ous of Porirua’s diver­sity and one of the panel’s key is­sues was to ar­gue that each city should re­tain its dis­tinct iden­tity.

‘‘Porirua has a vi­brancy, it is like no other part of the re­gion. But I also feel it is pos­si­ble to have that strong lo­cal iden­tity and bring it all to­gether in a co­her­ent way that can add qual­ity and strength.’’

An­other res­i­dent noted ‘‘our great­ness comes from our small­ness’’ and that Porirua should be the cap­i­tal of any su­per-city.

One said Auck­land’s su­per- city was ‘‘a de­ba­cle . . . and while we can’t keep our fin­ger in the dyke, we must en­sure the char­ac­ter of Porirua is not lost’’.

Mr Palmer said ro­bust dis­cus­sion and in­put from the pub­lic was cru­cial, both at these meet­ings and in on­line sub­mis­sions.

More pub­lic meet­ings will pre­cede the panel’s re­port to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion in Oc­to­ber.

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