Su­per-city the big po­lit­i­cal is­sue

Porirua takes the lead

Kapi-Mana News - - POLITICS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Apo­ten­tial Wellington re­gional su­per-city was the back­ground hum to Porirua’s po­lit­i­cal year, and in­flu­enced many of the city’s de­ci­sions.

Af­ter a year of de­bate, com­mit­tee- form­ing and pub­lic meet­ings in 2012, Porirua City Coun­cil backed a two-tier su­percity in March, sup­port­ing Greater Wellington Re­gional Coun­cil’s ap­pli­ca­tion to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion.

The two coun­cils were at odds with oth­ers in the re­gion: Wellington City Coun­cil backed a one-tier sys­tem, Wairarapa coun­cils wanted to unite, and Kapiti and the Hutt voted for the sta­tus quo.

Wellington is yet to be given a rec­om­men­da­tion from the com­mis­sion, which has re­cently sug­gested amal­ga­ma­tion for North­land and Hawke’s Bay.

Flow­ing with the cur­rent to­wards amal­ga­ma­tion, Porirua City Coun­cil signed a nine-year con­tract with Ca­pac­ity in May. That was de­spite ad­vice from coun­cil man­age­ment that Porirua’s wa­ter ser­vices were cheaper and bet­ter man­aged than those of Ca­pac­ity share­hold­ers, the Wellington and Hutt coun­cils.

Another re­gion­wide project, Trans­mis­sion Gully, was given the green light in June, with con­struc­tion of Porirua’s link roads to be­gin next year.

In what could be Porirua’s last in­de­pen­dent elec­tion, Nick Leggett eas­ily re­gained the may­oralty in Oc­to­ber. Only two new faces were elected to coun­cil.

For­mer Black Fern Izzy Ford proved most pop­u­lar of 14 can­di­dates in the East­ern ward, and for­mer mayor John Burke re­turned to his old stomp­ing ground.

Mr Burke was crit­i­cised for his prom­ise to wind down Hutt Mana Char­i­ta­ble Trust if re­turned to the trust: ri­val Sarah Dow ar­gued Mr Burke’s man­age­ment had crip­pled its fi­nances. In the end Ms Dow beat Mr Burke to the po­si­tion.

Mr Burke also made head­lines when he was snubbed for any role on Porirua Com­mu­nity Trust, which he chaired last term.

City coun­cil stal­wart Sue Dow stood down af­ter 18 years, and Rob Rangi moved to Up­per Hutt. One- term coun­cil­lor Wayne Poutoa took paid leave from July to care for his son and did not stand again.

The only two in­cum­bents who stood and were not suc­cess­ful were for­mer deputy mayor Liz Kelly and Faafoi Seiuli.

Another chang­ing of the guard hap­pened on the Cap­i­tal and Coast Dis­trict Health Board: in­cum­bents Bar­bara Don­ald­son and Mar­garet Faulkner re­tired, and Mr Leggett be­came Porirua’s only DHB rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Ms Don­ald­son be­came the re­gional coun­cil’s deputy chair­woman, and for­mer Porirua mayor Jenny Brash also re­tained her seat.

Sev­eral city coun­cil poli­cies caused out­rage among res­i­dents this year, among them the dis­tri­bu­tion of Vil­lage Plan­ning funds, an overzeal­ous plan to pro­tect na­tive trees on pri­vate land and the ap­proval of an ex­ten­sion to Whitby’s Bupa rest home against Dis­trict Plan guide­lines.

The coun­cil did earn praise for its pro­tec­tion of res­i­dents’ rights against Trans­power in March, re­strict­ing the en­ergy gi­ant’s bid to con­trol pri­vate land un­der its power lines.

The coun­cil had mixed for­tunes in its at­tempt to re­vi­talise the city cen­tre. A snazzy re­brand was launched in Au­gust, the Satur­day mar­ket has longer hours and more stalls, and a tem­po­rary ice rink at­tracted thou­sands to the CBD in Oc­to­ber. How­ever, a BizHub in the old Pete’s Em­po­rium build­ing has failed to at­tract in­vest­ment, de­spite op­ti­mistic plans for it to open by Septem­ber.

The Post Of­fice’s move from Serlby Place to the Me­ga­Cen­tre in Jan­uary has has­tened the Canopies’ demise, with linch­pins the Wind­mill bak­ery and Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre the lat­est busi­nesses to fold.

Mana MP Kris Faafoi largely stayed on the right side of the head­lines in 2013, crit­i­cis­ing the Gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber for a state hous­ing cri­sis in which 200 fam­i­lies in his elec­torate were with­out homes.

How­ever, in Fe­bru­ary he was ex­posed as Par­lia­ment’s big­gest travel spender, de­spite liv­ing just 20 kilo­me­tres from the Bee­hive.

Since be­com­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter, Hekia Parata has sel­dom been seen at com­mu­nity events, but man­aged to find time to launch sev­eral na­tional ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives in Porirua.

She most of­ten made the lo­cal news for teach­ers’ protests out­side her Paru­moana St of­fice.

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Young lead­er­ship: Mayor Nick Leggett and his soon-to-be deputy ’Ana Cof­fey launched a city cen­tre re­brand in Au­gust.

Photo: TALIA CARLISLE

Roller­coaster year: For­mer mayor John Burke was re-elected to Porirua City Coun­cil and Porirua Com­mu­nity Trust, but was snubbed for any re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on the lat­ter and was slammed for his prom­ise to wind down Hutt Mana Char­i­ta­ble Trust. Then he failed to win a seat on that body.

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