So: the race for Auckland is over, and Brown has pipped Blue at the post. At the time of writing, we’re still to see if Green will pip Blue in Wellington, with Celia and Kerry running neck and neck down the home straight.
But I am very happy that John Banks is not the new mayor of the new city of Auckland. The issue I have with Banks is not so much his politics (as Paul Henryish as they once were), but his obvious Auckland (as in Queen St) bias, that I believe would never do the city well. As long as the focus is on the Hauraki Gulf parts of Auckland, the hinterland will suffer. I’m hopeful that Brown will allow Manukau its day in the sun that it so deserves.
I’m sort of still surprised that they are calling the city Auckland, given that name used to describe just one portion of the new larger cake. All the other parts are being subsumed: Waitakere, Manukau, Papakura, Pakuranga, Waitemata, Hauraki, Tamaki, Takapuna, Orakei, Otahuhu, and – ummm, Rodney, are being eaten up by the spreading cancer of the conglomerate named after a long dead nobody. The plethora of Maori names are being wiped out by a single, irrelevant British moniker – to be covered now by the all encompassing “Auckland” seems unfair. Behold and arise, Len Brown of “Tamaki-makau-rau” and how apt that the leader is brown, if only in name alone. One day, perhaps, in the largest Polynesian city in the world (“Auckalofa” anyone?), there will be a leader to match.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the announcement a year ago, of the make-up of the new super-village-city. I commented at the time (and still cannot quite fathom how the loathsome Rodney Hide managed to swing it onto the population), that a carefully thought-through Royal Commission report was just thrown away in a week by Hide, with such measures as the two (token) Maori seats abolished without a second thought. Local maori were incensed, by some reports, and yet I was fairly hopeful that the STV system would give good representation on the new council. Yet the NZ Herald website notes that the makeup of the 20 key Auckland City seats goes like this:
They are Michael Goudie, Wayne Walker, George Wood, Ann Hartley, Penny Hulse, Sandra Coney, Mike Lee, Noelene Raffills, Cathy Casey, Christine Fletcher, Cameron Brewer, Richard Northey, Jami-Lee Ross, Sharon Stewart, Penny Webster, Calum Penrose, John Walker, Des Morrison, Arthur Anae, Alf Filipaina.
That’s certainly not sounding like a city with massive numbers of Maori, Samoan, Tongan, and Chinese living with Auckland’s much vaunted British, Scottish, Dalmatian mix. Let’s hope it is not such a debacle to run as it has been to set in place. There are some seriously screwed up heads in Auckland, if they believe the reports last week that it will be the biggest city in Australasia (no it won’t really, just the biggest administration mashup), yet patently Sydney, Melbourne etc are not quaking in their shoes at the prospect of the poor cousin from across the ditch suddenly flexing its muscles. And reports that Auckland is the 4th most liveable city on earth (Mercer Quality of Living survey), or the 10th (Economist survey), are both pretty random and nebulous by the Eye of the Fish preferred purveyor of news: Monocle magazine, where neither Auckland nor Wellington made it to the top 10. That seems more right – the hob-knobs of the world can live in Munich, Copenhagen, Zurich, Tokyo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris, Vienna, Melbourne or Madrid (Monocle’s top ten), but really, if you’re going to live anywhere, it would have to be a straight up choice between New York or Wellington, wouldn’t it?
And in the mean time: who is going to be leading our Wellington? The votes are very slow in coming forth…