Hide on the Auckland Super City

Rodney Hide writes in the Herald:

I’m afraid rate hikes seem a forever-thing. We keep voting for politicians who promise things and those things cost money which means higher rates. Rates will only come down if we elect politicians promising less, not more. That’s not been the case for years. The fault is with us.

Rates have not increased because of the Super City. Rates increased because the elected Councillors voted for lots of extra spending that needed a 10% rates increase to fund it.

The changes are all “under the hood”. We had eight councils trying to run Auckland. It was a nightmare. Roading projects were constantly stymied through political gamesmanship. Maintenance and repairs would go to a council boundary — and stop.

The major infrastructure works that Auckland needed couldn’t happen.

All that’s now different. It’s still not easy but with one mayor, one council, and one plan, the impossible has become possible and, indeed, is happening.

A big change is that central government can now talk to Auckland council and get answers. That previously was not possible. The failure of Auckland’s mayors and councils ever to agree meant nothing much happened.

Infrastructure development in Auckland was forever stalled.

Having one mayor and one council has made a huge difference for transport and other infrastructure developments but also for schools, policing, health care and, well, everything that central and local government does.

Not sexy but important.

The bylaws are now consistent across the city. That makes doing business across the region easier. It’s also fairer. There were 44 different water tariffs. Now there is one.

The service is better too. In ways you don’t necessarily notice but do care about.

I was shocked to discover most of the local water treatment plants were producing water that did not comply with the Ministry of Health’s standards. In Franklin alone, Watercare has now invested $116 million to transform the area’s water supply and to ensure a safe and reliable water supply.

Previously, much of Auckland’s water was not safe. Now it is.

These are changes well worth having. They are things you don’t notice when they work but you do when they don’t.


Helen Clark had started the process with a Royal Commission of Inquiry that followed on from exasperation that the mayors of Auckland couldn’t agree on where to site a new stadium to be paid for entirely by taxpayers. The Commission reported and John Key agreed to establish one council as recommended.

Which Labour then opposed despite being their own Royal Commission!

Two areas need consideration in my view. There are too many local boards. Twenty-one is too many to service and for the council and CCOs to consult. I don’t know the right number but a rationalisation is in order. A bigger jurisdiction would make them less local but the advantage would be in their say counting for more.

The Maori Statutory Board is a mistake. It’s a recipe for division and poor governance. The people running government should be elected, or appointed by those who are.

Critical decisions can turn on the vote of Maori Statutory Board members who themselves aren’t democratically accountable. The members of the Board are appointed by a Mana Whenua selection body. That’s wrong.

Yep. It should go.

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