Super-city the big political issue
Porirua takes the lead
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.
Young leadership: Mayor Nick Leggett and his soon-to-be deputy ’Ana Coffey launched a city centre rebrand in August.
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.