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Auckland Regional Council media release: Rodney’s disaster

by 4 Sep 2009Regional governance0 comments

The government’s lack of vision and understanding of Auckland issues has failed the people of Rodney district, says Auckland regional councillor Christine Rose.

The government has today indicated its intention to split the Rodney District at the Puhoi and Makarau Rivers, severing northern townships and settlements, as well as isolating six regional parks: Mahurangi, Scandrett, Tawharanui, Pakiri, Te Arai and Atiu Creek.

‘These are the government’s riding instructions to the Local Government Commission, which will determine the final northern boundary. It is a decision we will all come to regret. Services and quality of life in the northern townships and settlements, and in rural areas will decline. Rates will rise. Some of the coast’s exceptional natural beauty will be lost.

‘It is a political ill-judgement rather than recognition of the reality that Rodney is already part of greater Auckland.

‘The northern boundary change was never placed before people for consideration. Most Rodney residents never had a say on this issue, despite making considerable effort to engage with the select committee and Royal Commission.

‘There is no way this decision serves their interests, or the regional good. There is no democratic mandate to change Auckland’s northern boundary in such a radical way. Such unilateral decisions by central government over local government are an abuse of power. This is a further erosion of democracy that we are seeing all too often with this government.

‘The wider body of Parliament needs to change the bill before it passes.’

Cr Rose, who has represented Rodney at a district and regional level for 14 years, said the decision to sever most of the district’s land mass from greater Auckland defied logic. ‘It will have dangerous effects on Rodney’s rural character, growth management, ecology, and the quality of landscapes and water.

‘Gone will be the opportunity to deal with growth and infrastructure requirements with the benefits of a regional perspective and economies of scale.’

The Rodney District has experienced massive growth because of its proximity to metropolitan Auckland and will continue to be a pressure point. Growth in Rodney needed to be managed in conjunction with Auckland’s because of the direct environmental consequences for catchment management, natural and cultural heritage, landscape protection and species recovery.

Cr Rose says the Kaipara district and Northland regional council’s lack the resources and growth management expertise that Auckland has. ‘The sprawl across Auckland’s northern coastline will continue, because those councils desperately need revenue from subdivision.’

In contrast, the Auckland Regional Council has used its clout to put $3.3 million into protecting the Mahurangi, Whangateau, and Hoteo/Kaipara catchments. ‘Whangateau Harbour is one of the region’s most pristine marine areas.

‘No matter what Wellington thinks, Rodney’s real economic and social relationship is with greater Auckland. That’s where people go for employment, health services and tertiary education. That is where the transport routes lead.’

Six regional parks will become ‘islands’ of the Auckland Council – it is intended that they be owned and managed by Auckland Council ratepayers but there is no guarantee in legislation. ‘This is a Mickey Mouse treatment of wonderful parks and coastline which are much-loved and cared for,’ Councillor Rose says.

‘Consider Atiu Creek. When Pierre and Jackie Chatelanat wanted to put their land at Tapora, in the very north of Rodney, into public ownership, it was the Auckland region that they turned towards to support their vision for holding the land in perpetuity for future generations, not Kaipara and not Northland. The severance of that park is a disgrace.

‘Let the people of Auckland retain what they hold dear. The upkeep and expansion of parkland is unaffordable by any other agency, and risks undermining the goodwill of park volunteers and partner groups,’ Cr Rose says.

Auckland Regional Council has secured almost $50 million worth of public open space in the Rodney district since 2001.

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