The thorny is­sue of amal­ga­ma­tion – in 1989

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - KRIS DANDO

FLASHBACK ‘‘In this re­gion you had Makara, Tawa, Pe­tone and East­bourne as sep­a­rate en­ti­ties and that all dis­ap­peared.’’

Amal­ga­ma­tion came to Tawa in 1989 and res­i­dents were not happy – not one bit. Bruce Mur­ray, chair­man of the Tawa His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, said Tawa – which had its own bor­ough coun­cil and mayor – be­com­ing part of Welling­ton was un­palat­able to res­i­dents.

A door-to-door poll found 98 per cent of Tawa house­holds in favour of re­tain­ing in­de­pen­dence.

‘‘The Gov­ern­ment took a na­tion­wide look at the 700 coun­cils and other spe­cialpur­pose bod­ies and de­cided to pare them down to 86,’’ he said. ‘‘In this re­gion you had Makara, Tawa, Pe­tone and East­bourne as sep­a­rate en­ti­ties and that all dis­ap­peared. It was seen as be­ing forced upon you and peo­ple were un­happy.’’

Tawa Bor­ough Coun­cil man­ager Noel Tock was scathing of the amal­ga­ma­tion de­ci­sion, say­ing he had grave doubts Welling­ton could match the stan­dards of his or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘‘To­tally against the wishes of the peo­ple of Tawa, gov­ern­ment pol­icy is forc­ing an amal­ga­ma­tion,’’ he told KapiMana News for our May 23, 1989, edi­tion. ‘‘ What pur­pose is served when democ­racy is demon­strated by dic­ta­to­rial ac­tions?’’

Mur­ray, who be­came Tawa Col­lege prin­ci­pal in 1989, re­called res­i­dents wanted to fight the de­ci­sion ‘‘tooth and nail’’.

The bor­ough coun­cil had built parks and sports grounds and man­aged in­fra­struc­ture like sub­di­vi­sions and stormwa­ter ad­mirably, he said.

He got a knock on his door one night, be­fore amal­ga­ma­tion, from bor­ough coun­cil mem­bers.

‘‘They told me all their money would go to Welling­ton, so they would like to give some to Tawa Col­lege for a schol­ar­ship. They gave us $10,000 and that fund has been in place ever since, given to the best all-round stu­dent each year.’’

Mur­ray said Tawa has had ex­cel­lent coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tion over the years from the likes of Kerry Pren­der­gast, Robert Arm­strong, Ngaire Best and Mal­colm Spar­row.

From 1989 un­til 1998, Tawa had two coun­cil­lors on Welling­ton City Coun­cil, but that was abolished for a wider North­ern ward, tak­ing in Khan­dal­lah, Ngaio and John­sonville. Four coun­cil­lors for that ward was re­duced to three in 2007.

Mur­ray said though it took time, Tawa has ac­cepted its unity with Welling­ton and been the bet­ter for it. A beau­ti­ful up­grade to Grasslees Re­serve, main­te­nance of the swim­ming pool and part­ner­ship with Tawa Col­lege for a sports turf were ex­am­ples of a pos­i­tive part­ner­ship, and the sub­urb had re­tained its ‘‘vil­lage’’ sense, he said.

Pren­der­gast, who at­tended Tawa Col­lege and started her po­lit­i­cal life as a Tawa Bor­ough coun­cil­lor, said it took many years for a ‘‘true in­te­gra­tion’’ with Welling­ton.

‘‘No-one I spoke to in Tawa at the time thought amal­ga­ma­tion was a good idea,’’ she said. ‘‘There was con­cern that the unique­ness and cul­ture of our bor­ough would be lost, but with time this has dis­ap­peared. The level of ac­cess of­fered by Welling­ton [City Coun­cil] is high and as long as that is main­tained, peo­ple will be happy.’’

Pren­der­gast, Welling­ton mayor from 2001 to 2010, said an elected coun­cil of 10 mem­bers and a mayor look­ing af­ter 13,000 peo­ple was un­af­ford­able in today’s en­vi­ron­ment.

When we sug­gested Tawa pos­si­bly amal­ga­mat­ing with Porirua on the Kapi-Mana News Face­book page, the re­sponse was mixed.

‘‘Rates are higher in Porirua. I’m happy to stay with Welling­ton,’’ Karyn Pearce said.

‘‘Tawa should be part of Porirua. It is too far from Welling­ton CBD, but so close to Porirua’s CBD,’’ said Cam Dowl­ing.

PHOTO: FAIR­FAX

Tawa was part of a county coun­cil and its own bor­ough be­fore amal­ga­mat­ing with Welling­ton. Bruce Mur­ray

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