Marae for Harbourview

On 18 June 2020 the Te Atatu Marae Coalition Trust Board presented a Marae project update to The Henderson Massey Local Board.

My comments during Public Forum follow.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a ratepayer I want to see my money spent wisely and I want to have input into what it’s spent on.

In the 1950’s private land on Te Atatu Peninsula was acquired by Auckland Harbour Board under the Public Works Act.

In 1989 approximately 115 ha was transferred from AHB to WCC.

In 1992 WCC ratepayers strongly opposed use of the land for housing or a marae.

In 1998 Bob Harvey proposed a Museum of Gardens and commercial development

In 1999 MP’s Neeson and Carter surveyed their constituents. More than 70% of respondents wanted the remaining land retained as a park, undeveloped.

In 2000 WCC said it would gazette 36 ha as the People’s Park.

In October 2000 Council voted against a proposal to set aside 2.5 ha of Harbourview land for a marae.

 

I wish to quote now from Waitakere City News June 2001.

“The  Council has voted unanimously to turn the 115 ha known as Harbourview into a park.”

“Last year the Council undertook a consultation exercise asking the community what it wanted on the land, and following that asked the Te Atatu Residents and Ratepayers group to develop a concept for a “People’s Park.”

“Mayor Bob Harvey says he was delighted that the concept was fully endorsed. “The people have told us loud and clear that they want no development on this land and we’ve listened.”

A levy of $45 was imposed on all ratepayers

“For the price of two hamburgers per year people are getting an absolutely magnificent waterfront park. This is another Cornwall Park which will be enjoyed for generations to come. It will (be) a legacy that all of us can be proud of “, says Mayor Harvey.

 

In mid-2003 there was a proposed plan change to allow a marae. The result of public consultation revealed in November from 91 submissions 74 were opposed.

 

Never the less here we are today in 2020 following various plan changes that culminated in the Unitary Plan allowing for a designated area on the Harbourview Park for a marae.

 

In 2010 $1,191,671 (the Harbourview Park fund) was transferred from WCC to AC.

Since 1 Dec 2012 Te Atatu Pony Club has paid a monthly rent to AC of $152.11.

A portion of the land used by the Causeway Alliance for a depot generated a significant monetary return, in excess of $2m.

  1. Why were these incomes not credited to the Harbourview Park fund?
  2. What is the current financial viability of the Marae Coalition?
  3. Is the HMLB satisfied with their viability?
  4. What assurances do ratepayers have that we will not be called upon for further funding?
  5. What is the proposed ownership title for the land for a marae?
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Pool Fencing Inspections

Twenty years ago, Waitakere City Council (WCC), following new interpretations of the 1987 Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, embarked upon a campaign whereby prosecutions were threatened against owners of compliant pools for such things as having tables and chairs and BBQs in the immediate pool area. A number of pool owners banded together and in 2003 POAG (Pool Owners Action Group) was formed to take a class action against WCC in the District Court. Instead WCC, confident of its stance, wanted to seek a declaratory judgment in the High Court. Our lawyer advised us we were probably best to accept WCC’s suggestion, otherwise it was highly likely that if they lost in the District Court, they would appeal the case to the High Court and drain us of funds. In 2004 every aspect of WCC’s declaratory judgment was lost and POAG was awarded $20,000 costs. Our legal fees were $40,000. Judge Randerson pointed out that contradictions between the Building Act and the FOSPA (Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, 1987) were unhelpful.

In 2011 I was invited by Auckland Council (the new Supercity Council) to join an external working party charged with looking at workable solutions to eliminate contradictions between the Building Act and FOSPA. I served on that committee for 5 years without pay. I constantly emphasised the  need for three C’s  —consistency, certainty and common sense.

On 1/1/17 the Building (Pools) Amendment Act took effect. We were told one of the aims was to reduce compliance costs for pool owners. The new law provides for 3 yearly inspections of pool fencing.

On 9/5/19 my pool was inspected. The visit lasted 15 minutes but I noted it was billed as 80 minutes “duration”.  Upon questioning this I was told this was largely due to traffic on the North Shore. I complained to my two councillors, Linda Cooper and Penny Hulse, and a week later received an email from Julie Lardner (AC) saying the $128 covered costs such as wages, vehicles, fuel, IT equipment, uniforms, buildings etc. I was told this was a service which had to be “user pays”.

On 18/5/19 I put 9 questions to AC as a LGOIMA request.

On 1/6/19 my wife received an unsigned arrears notice from AC 19 dated 27 May.

On 11/6/19 AC advised me my request was denied. That same day an unsigned letter was sent to my wife by AC threatening her credit rating.

On 17/6/19 I complained to the Ombudsman.

On 8/9/19 my wife received another unsigned threatening letter from AC. “Final Notice.”

On 20/9/19 the Ombudsman advised me to lodge a formal complaint with S Town (CE, AC). I did so.

On 18/11/19 I received an email from S Town saying he had instructed staff to reactivate my invoice. Since then I have contacted the Ombudsman and received an assurance there will be no further action on my invoice until the Ombudsman has responded.

 

To date I have sought details of income and expenditure in council accounts relating to pool fencing inspections but they have not been very cooperative. I await a response from the Ombudsman.

 

 

 

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Harbourview Marae

Address to HMLB on 21 May 2019 by Gary Osborne
Mr Chairman, Board members, ladies and gentlemen.
I am concerned at the paucity of information regarding the proposed marae on the Harbourview land.
Unfortunately, too often ratepayers are treated as second-class citizens. We are useful for funding various programmes but are given limited information about them. We are invited to enter into consultations but too often our views are treated with dismissive contempt.
I was appalled at the attempt to stifle any discussion on the marae during the public submissions re the Harbourview Plan at the HMLB meeting on 4 December 2018. As I pointed out at the time, one third of the introduction was devoted to the marae. The speaker following me was shut down in a matter of seconds.
At a meeting of HMLB on 7 February 2017 it was claimed that Waitakere City Council had promised in 2003 to gift 2.5ha of land for a marae. I called for minutes to substantiate that, but no such minutes exist. Recently a pamphlet has been circulating advertising the planting of over 1000 trees as part of Matariki celebrations. The pamphlet claims, inter alia, “Supported by Auckland Council Parks and Reserves and Henderson/Massey Local Board.”
I am concerned that ratepayers, especially those who were levied $45 some years ago and are therefore stakeholders are being kept in the dark.
There are some pertinent questions that need asking and I put them to the Board today.
1. Is there a lease in place for the marae?
2. Has the Board approved a business plan for the marae?
3. Is there any intention of donating ratepayer money to the Marae Coalition?
4. What tangible funds does the Marae Coalition currently have?
5. Did the Board approve this tree planting as claimed in the pamphlet?
6. What impact will trees have on the view shaft?
7. What attempts has the Board made to advise ratepayers of what is going on?
8. Is the Board aware not one cent of the NZTA rental for the Works Depot has made it to the Harbourview account?
9. Is the Board aware not one cent of the pony club lease has made it to the Harbourview account?

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Harbourview Park Hearings

Recently members of the public were invited to make submissions to the Henderson-Massey Local Board on the ”Draft Harbourview-Orangihina Park Masterplan”.

There were 248 written submissions.

Yesterday at a Hearing commencing at 10 am here were 13 oral submissions.

Prior to submissions Board Chairman, Shane Henderson attempted to stifle any comments on the Marae.

The proposed Marae is inside the Harbourview Park.

Here is my submission.

I have called for a referendum.

 

“Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I wish to go back two decades to a time when 2 local MP’s, Chris Carter and Brian Neeson conducted surveys to see what the ratepayers of Te Atatu wanted done with the land handed to Waitakere City Council by Auckland Harbour Board. The overwhelming response was for a People’s Park devoid of buildings similar to Cornwall Park.

 

On 25 October 2000 WCC voted that the land become an open space park.

Following extensive public consultation and work put in by the Te Atatu Residents and Ratepayers Association the Open Space Management Plan was adopted by WCC in February 2003.

In relation to that I would like to express a special vote of thanks to the late Jeff Neilsen, Elizabeth Grimmer, Leo Nobilo, Bob Stannic and Anne Grace.  A levy of $9 per annum was imposed on all Waitakere ratepayers for 5 years for maintenance of the park.

 

Then in mid-2003 there was a proposed plan change to allow a marae. Further to public consultation it was revealed in November 2003 there were 91 submissions  — 74 against , 17 for.

 

At an HMLB meeting in February 2017 it was fallaciously claimed  “In 2003 Waitakere City Council were about to gift/handover2.5 hectares of land to Te Atatu Coalition Marae.” That’s nonsense. There are no minutes to substantiate such a claim.

 

It is my wish that we honour the plan adopted in February 2003. There is nothing more frustrating for ratepayers who have invested time thought and money into the democratic process only to have agreed commitments subsequently thrown out or modified to such an extent that the original plan becomes unrecognisable. Many of the people wanting extensive changes to the accepted plan from 2003 won’t have even contributed one cent to the People’s Park.

 

Bearing in mind the considerable time and effort that went into the 2003 plan, with the proposed extensive changes, in fairness to all the original submitters and all ratepayers who were levied $9 per annum for 5 years I would like to call for a referendum on this matter.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SHOULD A COMMISSIONER BE APPOINTED FOR AUCKLAND COUNCIL?

Below are comments from a fellow ratepayer that I think are most worthy of consideration.

The Government should appoint a Commissioner to oversee Auckland Council

Here is why they should, and how they should successfully implement the changes needed to remedy the council.

Auckland Council have released their 2017/2018 Annual Report.

This report shows the continuing pattern of growing debt, interest payments, operating expenses and staff numbers.

In every instance they have exceeded their budgets. Debt is now$12.66billion.

This negative information was excluded from the Report’s summaries.

Continuously setting budgets and then failing to meet them then excluding such vital and controversial evidence from their summaries is one just one example of council’s culture of denial, lack of transparency and accountability.

Unlike the private sector where poorly managed companies perish, council have an unlimited supply of money available and have developed more and more unpopular ways to access it. Even with these increases in taxation, services and fees and sale of public land, the figures are still worsening.

Auckland Council say they are operating “in a prudent and effective manner”.

I believe that they are not providing either good management or the public service that they should. I believe that Council’s senior management and councillors are either are out of their depth or cannot see their failure. Whatever the reason, it is clear that they are not capable of turning around an ever worsening situation without firm accountable outside help.

The Government must take action.

Government cannot continue to stand by as things worsen year by year.  The government set this up and are responsible to us to make it work. They must acknowledge that it is not working, is not what they promised and then provide a competent organization to run our city.

This is what Government must do.

The Minister will appoint a Commissioner. The task is to get council to be an effective, open, economic, user friendly organization in which all staff are accountable for and want to achieve and maintain these values.

The starting point. The Commissioner will call for an immediate stop on increasing costs and debt and appoint an overseer to both the Mayor and the CEO.  These overseers will obtain from each a firm plan, with regular targets, to achieving the goal. The Mayor and CEO will report on a daily basis. The targets must be achieved. This is a task regularly accomplished by senior management in the private sector so it is reasonable to expect this of the senior council management.

Achieving targets will necessitates big changes. These will be implemented by council with the help of private practice Cost Accountants, Quantity surveyors and others. The whole organisation and its appendages must be scrutinised. The validity of each part must be questioned. Revising legislation may be necessary to remove non-contributory parts and implement changes. New purchasing rules will be implemented.

Lazy practices, corruption and favouring will be stopped.

Good staff will stay because bad working conditions and bullies will be rooted out.

Senior staff, councillors and local boards often just “go with the flow”. We are told that council is “operating in a prudent and effective manner”. That their purchasing is economic and without corruption because they have (non-existent) “checks and balances”. They will stop ignoring or censoring people who question their practices. Accountability will stop evasive answers and excuses

Currently, Council staff control the CEO and elected members by monitoring and withholding information, censoring, limiting public access and feedback and with alternative truths.

Local boards are rendered impotent by council minders who will manipulate information and actively support members who favour the council’s wishes against those who do not.

Change must and certainly can made to happen. A commissioner working with council staff, and elected members can achieve this.

There are many people with information available to ensure success.

 

 

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Harbour View Park

Despite overwhelming support for a People’s Park devoid of buildings and adoption of an Open Space Management Plan by Waitakere City Council in 2003, numerous attempts have been made to give the green light for a marae.

Henderson-Massey Local Board is currently calling for submissions on yet another plan.

This opened on 13 August and closes on 9 September. I urge you to have your say.

Here is my own submission:

 

I wish to make a submission on the Harbourview-Orangihina draft masterplan.

I would like to see management of the park in accordance with the 144 page document on the Open Space Management Plan adopted by Waitakere City Council in February 2003.

 

People wanted a People’s Park akin to Cornwall Park for all people unfettered by buildings except for toilets and essential amenities.

On 25 Oct 2000 WCC voted that the land become an open space park.

This followed extensive public consultation.

I remember well the levy imposed on ratepayers  — $9 per annum per property for 5 years. I had more than one property.

 

In mid-2003 there was a proposed plan change to allow a marae.

In November 2003 it was revealed there were 91 submissions  –74 against, 17 for.

In February 2017 it was claimed “In 2003 Waitakere City Council were about to gift/handover 2.5 hectares of land to re Atatu Coalition Marae.”

Despite my request I have seen no minutes that support that claim.

 

I am opposed to any buildings on the park (including a marae) other than essential amenities.

 

I would also like to see the historic brick house retained in the Harbourview People’s Park.

 

Yours sincerely,

Gary Osborne

 

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Who Owns The Harbour Bridge?

Four years in the making, at a cost of $7.5million, Auckland’s Harbour Bridge was opened in 1959.

It quickly became evident it could not cope with the volume of traffic and 10 years later the “clip-ons” were added at a cost close to the entire cost of the original bridge. Initially a toll bridge, the bridge was paid for by government-backed loans. The clip-ons had an expected life span of 50 years.

In 1987 cracks in the clip-ons required major repairs.

In 2007 a $43m maintenance programme on the clip-ons was brought forward.

In 2009 a further $41m was committed to the upgrade.

On 4 July 2018 I wrote to both Auckland Council and New Zealand Transport Agency

“It is my understanding that the Harbour Bridge clip-ons had a 50-year life span and are due to be replaced within the next couple of years.

  1. What provisions have been made for their replacement?
  2. What is the estimated cost?
  3. How will this be funded?”

 

On 12 July NZTA advised me

“Thank you for getting in touch with questions related to the AHB clip-on. Your query was also received by the OIA office so we will be providing a formal response to you via the OIA response team in the next week.”

 

I will comment on the response when I get it as well as comment on ownership.

 

 

 

 

 

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