Auckland Council’s natural environment and water quality targeted rates spark praise across the board for the work they have accomplished.
Booming populations of kōkako in the Hunua ranges, 24,000 hectares of on-ground possum control, 391,000 plants planted to curb siltation and over $600,000 in community based grants are among the success stories of the targeted rates.
At the Environment and Climate Change Committee on September 8, the yearly reports of the natural environment and water quality targeted rate were presented to the members.
Environmental Services general manager Rachel Kelleher who presented to the committee said the ground-based possum control was the largest area they had been able to cover in a single year.
“The Hunua ranges are now the second largest mainland population (of kōkako) for New Zealand and given that it has more than 40 founding pairs it is really a priority one site now for kōkako conservation,” Kelleher said.
Cr Desley Simpson said that while no targeted rate was ever “hugely liked” the work achieved was outstanding.
Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore said the work had helped to create mana around Auckland Council.
“From my community and the whole environment around the Hunuas and the rest of Auckland, thank you… I am as proud as bits of the work you have done,” Cashmore said.
Mayor Phil Goff said there were a lot of excuses when first considering environmental projects but they were too important not to do.
“There were all these things we needed to do and no money to do them,” Goff said.
“Most councillors supported (the rates) and all councillors would like to claim credit for the outcomes now because the outcomes are fantastic.”
Chair Richard Hills acknowledged there were often complaints about targeted rates but said long-term issues would not be getting fixed without them.
“Now to see those massive numbers (of kōkako) and them to be spreading across to other parts of the city where we might have what is happening in Wellington with the kākā. They are just in people’s neighbourhoods now,” Hills said.
“Kids being born today are going to be able to see some of our wildlife that almost disappeared. It will be quite normal to see them in their backyards because of the work these targeted rates do by changing the mistakes.”
Local board reports that detail how the rates are working in individual communities will be coming out in the next few weeks according to council staff.