Tracy Mulholland Auckland City Councillor Whau Ward
The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply) Amendment Bill came to the agenda of the Planning Committee on Thursday 4 November. The Council is very concerned that the proposed building standards in the Bill would produce poor built outcomes for individual sites, neighbouring sites, and for neighbours. Auckland Council is proposing replacement and additional standards to ensure both the desired intensification outcome and a higher quality built form.
In essence, once the Mixed Density Residential Standards are implemented, Council is wanting the opportunity to make further refinements to standards to see that more housing is made available to Aucklanders at a higher quality than what is being originally proposed.
Auckland Council have officially committed to adopting the Tāmaki Tauawhi Kaumātua - Age-friendly Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Action Plan.
This region-wide, cross-sector plan recognizes that older people experience barriers to participation across all areas of life, and seeks to improve the age-friendliness of Auckland’s environment, infrastructure, and services now and in the future.
The plan’s framework is uniquely designed to reflect our bicultural foundations, combining WHO domains with Te Whare Tapa Whā – a Māori wellbeing framework and te ao Māori values.
Have Your Say!
I would like to reiterate to all Beacon readers that it is important to have your say with your Councillor. Auckland councillors usually hold “Have Your Say” events and Constituent Community Clinics in person, but of course these were cancelled during lockdown. However, you can still contact your Ward Councillor regarding various community and council-related issues. If you would like to bring anything to my attention, or have tried contacting the Auckland Council contact centre but are unsure of where to go from there, I am more than happy to have a “Zoom” or face-to-face meeting. You can contact me via email on email@example.com
Revoking reserve status creates a lot of disquiet in our community. Whau Local Board members share this uneasiness and last year revoked a resolution by the previous local board to remove reserve status from Saunders Reserve, Avondale. Also of concern is the reserve status of Davern Lane Reserve in New Lynn. If reserve status is revoked, Auckland Council can sell the site and Davern residents will lose a valuable green space containing mature native trees.
I am waiting to voice the board’s opposition to this revocation at two hearings, one on Plan Change 60 which would enable the revocation and one on the actual revocation. Both hearings have been delayed because of lockdown.
But sometimes reserve status can be revoked for constructive purposes. At our October business meeting Whau Local Board members voted to revoke the reserve status for land affected around the proposed Avondale Library and Community Hub building. Reserve status limits commercial activities from taking place on site. We voted for the status of the land to change so a wider range of activities at and around the new facility are available for residents. The kind of commercial activities board members are thinking of include markets and coffee and food carts.
The land will continue to be held in Auckland Council ownership under the Local Government Act 2022, but as a safeguard against future privatisation the board passed the following recommendation: “that the Whau Local Board is approving this revocation of reserve status in the spirit of enabling community access and opportunities, with the explicit intention that the land remain in public ownership and control for the benefit of current and future local residents for recreational use.” The revocation is now open for public consultation with submissions closing on 16th December 2021. You can find more information on lodging a submission at: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/have-your-say/public-notices/Pages/proposed-reserve-revocation-part-195-955-great-north-road-avondale.aspx
In December 2020, Auckland Transport (AT) and the Whau Local Board proposed to make changes to the Blockhouse Bay Roundabout. The purpose was to improve safety for people walking, cycling, and driving in the area as part of the Community Safety Fund.
600 responses were received from the community on this proposal. 92% either did not support the proposal or they wanted changes made, and only 8% supported the proposed designs. AT reviewed all feedback submissions and have decided the proposed roundabout improvements will not go ahead.
What happens next? AT and the Whau Local Board want to create an engagement programme, working with the community, to adjust designs for the Blockhouse Bay Roundabout. The Local Board plan to host workshops in 2022 and will invite key representatives from community and business groups to contribute to these Local Board-led sessions. AT and the Whau Local board look forward to working with members of the community, who offer local knowledge and perspectives, to improve safety and congestion in the area. “This will be an opportunity to work alongside different sections of the community, to reach a common outcome and supported solution. We look forward to being able to work together on this.” Kay Thomas, Whau Local Board Chairperson.
The Blockhouse Bay community was shocked by the announcement that Auckland International College (AIC) will be closing as a result of the uncertainty posed by New Zealand’s Covid-19 pandemic response. AIC students have been part of life in the village since the college opened in the Bay on the former Hilltop School site.
New Zealand’s only school exclusively dedicated to providing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), AIC was founded in 2003 for international and domestic students and has enjoyed unparalleled academic success.
The impact of travel restrictions and ongoing lockdown measures, has seen the current roll fall to 136 students across Years 11 to 13. And, the school’s future ability to continue to attract students has been severely impacted.
The AIC Council said that the school would remain open until June 2023 to enable current Year 12 and 13 students to complete the two-year IBDP.
AIC Council Chair, Nigel Burton said that in making the decision, their focus has been on ensuring current students are not negatively impacted.
“It is a matter of integrity for us to ensure that our students can complete their two-year IBDP uninterrupted and without distraction,” he said.
Teaching staff will be incentivised to remain at the school until after the official closing, including assisting 2023 graduates with their university applications, and will receive generous redundancy allowances.
AIC has been a private education success story for New Zealand, providing a genuine global pathway for domestic and international students. The school has earned a global reputation for academic excellence, including achieving a 100% IBDP student pass rate in 2021. AIC students have been offered admission to nine of the world’s top 10 universities as ranked by the Times Educational Supplement (TES).
“We’re deeply saddened to be closing our doors. We have enjoyed developing a wonderful, engaged community where dedicated and talented teachers have helped students achieve the highest levels of academic success. The closure of Auckland International College is a genuine loss to New Zealand from an educational, economic and cultural exchange perspective,” Nigel Burton said.
Placemaking Aotearoa’s Kūmara Awards are awarded to celebrate incredible placemaking happening across Aotearoa. It is a community-driven showcase of the outstanding placemaking projects happening in our communities.
The awards take their name from the whakatauki (Maori proverb) Kōre te kūmara e kōrero ana mo tōna ake reka. The kūmara does not brag about its own sweetness… But others do!
This year, Avondale’s Great North Gallery was a finalist in the Awards.
Supported by Eke Panuku, the Great North Gallery - twelve poster frames along Great North Road in the heart of Avondale - provides a platform for people’s voice and culture to be amplified and celebrated.
These posters quietly and steadily provide the community with inspiration and build resilience for its voice to be heard amongst ongoing changes in Avondale.
Dayne Smith of I Love Avondale, resident and advocate, curated the content for the posters in the Great North Gallery. The posters have displayed drone footage of Avondale locations, people of Avondale, Awa stories, the Whau art festival, Estefania Lopez’s love letter to Avondale and many more pieces of art. Curator Dayne Smith uses the Great North Gallery to showcase local people, places, stories, and talent. Once again, Avondale’s creative talent shines through. Congratulations to all involved.
Recently the steel work was put in place for the Boardwalk and connection from Blockhouse Bay Road down, and through to Avondale Station. The graceful curve and gentle gradient of the shiny new steelwork promises an easy climb up to Blockhouse Bay Road. A closure of St Georges Rd allowed the rapid completion of a new off road bike path, plus the raised table pedestrian crossing of the road.
Avondale’s first tower crane stands sentry over Mainstreet as an indisputable sign of change.
Indeed, there is a massive wave of investment coming that is still largely invisible as you walk through town, but change is now unstoppable and is roaring in like a freight train. Millions of dollars of public and private money will kick the transformation of Avondale into a higher gear. These projects will deliver a new library and community centre, new retail spaces, and apartments on Mainstreet. There will be an entire new community of hundreds of apartment dwellers in the centre of town.
Walking through town today, these changes are still mainly just hinted at. Unlike many other centres, shop vacancy rates are low although it does have four two-dollar shops filling the gaps. It is easy to look at these shops and not see the future.
Avondale is also a creative centre. It is astounding how many arts and media people call this home. There is a pulsating vibrancy that has risen up and broken through the surface. Crescendo, a music based social organisation for youth, gave their seal of approval with their move to the centre of town. A leader in showcasing the creative energy is Dayne Smith who pioneered I Love Avondale. Dayne worked through many social initiatives since 2014 and he recently took on a community development role with Kāinga Ora.
In 2017, Dayne recognised that Avondale needed a change in leadership and that the Avondale Business Association (ABA) was the major player that set the tone of the town. Along with others, he encouraged Marcus Amosa to stand for election as Chair of the ABA. It seemed like a big win when Marcus was elected at the business association AGM three years ago over incumbent Duncan McDonald, but it was a hollow victory; Marcus had no allies on the ABA board.
Nobody could have anticipated the year-long stalemate that ensued. Marcus had no former board experience and he struggled to chair a board where everyone was against him. The fine print of the ABA rules was examined and it was claimed that Marcus was ineligible because he was not a business or property owner in the Business Improvement District (BID) area. Marcus was trespassed from the ABA office (located inside Duncan’s shop). Handover of the ABA records was refused. Eventually Auckland Council froze the ABA funding from BID special rates while the ABA financial records were audited due to suspected irregularities.
An important insight is that the election of Marcus as Chair of ABA was part of a sea change of leadership in the Whau. Marcus’s brother, Fasitua Amosa, was later elected to the Whau Local Board (WLB). Also challenging the status quo was Tracy Mulholland, first at the WLB and then by defeating Ross Clow as Councillor. A group of people had become friends as they worked together over the decades as local board members, councillors, business association representatives and elected members to the Trusts. Duncan McDonald was part of this group that included Paul and Kathy Davies, Derek Battersby, Catherine Farmer, and Ross Clow. The transition of various powers from this group to a new generation is now well underway.
Under Duncan’s leadership, the ABA oversaw the installation of the yellow brick pavements, uniform green signage for shops, under-shop awning lighting, and rubbish and graffiti removal. The most celebrated achievement was installation of Dale the spider in the town centre. On the downside, they opposed activation of the old 3 guys site for community use as a youth zone/artpark and the new pavers became known as the “slippery bricks” after multiple people suffered falls when the bricks were wet. The green signage has aged and now it has mostly been removed.
ABA Board Chair, Marcus Amosa. Photo: Beacon Community News
During his year in the ABA wilderness, Marcus kept focused on his future strategy. His time in the army with NZDF has trained him to be 100% mission focussed to achieve objectives. The strategic overview is like looking down from the air. He had to deal with the frustration of having 12 months delay to his tactical response with the ABA on the ground, where you need to move quickly. As a combat veteran of Afghanistan, Marcus knows that strategy and tactics determine outcomes. The second AGM of the ABA where Marcus stood again was completely different. He was once again elected Chair, but this time he was backed by a full ticket of allied board members.
The new team hit the ground running but there was a huge amount to do behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for change. Although the existing bar was set low, it takes an enormous amount of energy to create enough momentum for visible change. The board members were dedicated, skilful and keen but there was a huge backlog of governance issues to navigate. It took time for Council to complete its audit and release the BID funds that had been frozen.
The new ABA board got governance consultancy from Claire Siddens (Auckland Council) and advisors Grant Hewison and Steve McDowell. They were starting with a clean slate to set up systems, policy, and implementation. Subcommittees tackled specific tasks. There was full attendance at board meetings as the new team showed a strong desire to work together effectively.
Cynthia Crosse joined the team as part time manager. Marcus, Cynthia, and Treasurer Pirie Brown worked so diligently that Auckland Council now holds ABA up as a model for a culture of “best practice” governance. They were applauded by Council for their reporting and held up as an example of excellence to the 49 other Auckland BIDs.
Although the previous administration had made a change to the constitution to stipulate that the chair be offered a $5,000 annual allowance for the chair, Marcus believes that it is important that he sends a strong message that he is a volunteer like everyone else and does not accept the allowance.
The ABA business plan has these key performance indicators:
Maintain a culture of “Best Practice” governance
Member Communications and Engagement
Promotions, Events, and Street Activation
Improve Avondale’s attractiveness for users and visitors
Strengthen relationships with stakeholders
The granular details under each of these objectives is impressive. Even more so is the progress that has been achieved in a short timeframe on so many fronts.
A simple thing like an accurate database of BID business and property owners had to be built. This has enabled regular communication with members, proven especially important as they navigated the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Promotion of local business is the core function of any BID. The ABA has done this with imagination and style. One simple way to showcase businesses online and in social media has been to employ a local, world-renowned photographer to get images of owners and staff in front of their shops. This has been one type of content used on the ABA website, social channels and in the new Mainstreet magazine. Cynthia has also helped members to set up their own social media accounts to give them a presence online.
At short notice the ABA organised the first Avondale Business Awards to celebrate each other amongst the dark days of Covid. Despite having a short runway to organise the Awards, it was a success. Voting for the people’s choice awards included many thoughtful comments about aspects of businesses that people appreciated.
The ABA is working with charities as well as business owners with the goal of building a tight, cohesive community that becomes an attractive place to live and to do business. They recognise that it will take a wholistic community perspective to achieve that. The I Love Avondale organisation, Haven Foundation, churches, clubs, and societies are valued by the ABA for their role in community building. The association even commissioned a promotional video for Avondale to attract new businesses. This has created interest and the first new business, Cheddar, is set to open.
Strategic partners include developers, Eke Panuku, Whau Local Board, Councillor Tracy Mulholland, Auckland Transport and Kāinga Ora. The ABA works to maintain close relationships with all these important partners, many of whom are spending millions of dollars on the regeneration of Avondale. The ABA has also combined its voice with the other three BIDs in the Whau, for joint lobbying of government. Marcus sums it all up with, “The Avondale Business Association is slowly morphing the way we portray our town centre, and the way others perceive it, to keep pace with the external changes facing us. We are proud of our collective membership, a business community that serves its neighbourhood well, and we will continue to do our best to serve you.”
There is a new sheriff in town. Marcus says his personal foundation that has equipped him for the role is his faith and his military career. He owes a lot to his family, especially his parents Ps Asora and Henga Amosa, as well as his wife Jamie.
More people are lacking adequate income to make ends meet. Inflation - including accommodation costs - and the Covid-19 lockdown have taken their toll. Now some are losing their jobs with the vaccine mandates.
Foodbanks across Auckland are run by volunteers, with some paid leadership. It is usually a labour-intensive effort involving a lot of logistics. Food is collected from multiple sources. Then the volunteers come to sort and pack the boxes, ready for people to pick up. Some boxes have to be delivered to people who have no transport. When Beacon Community News called on a foodbank that was filling 150 cartons, there were 20 volunteers working for three hours to get the task completed.
Foodbanks are now part of the community landscape. Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers donate food that is getting close to expiry dates, reducing food waste. Donors provide cash to purchase items that are not available otherwise. Sometimes Auckland Council and Government agencies will provide crucial backup support to enable food banks to continue.
Fair Food in Rosebank Rd is a major link between food suppliers and food banks. In October, they distributed 102 tonnes of food to 35 other charities for distribution. They estimate that this reduced carbon emissions by 79,988kgs. Food that cannot be saved is sent off as animal feed. With lots of food, comes lots of plastic. Fair Food has partnered with Future Post in Waiuku, who make non-toxic fence posts and garden planter boxes from recycled plastic.
Another big organisation is Visionwest – Pātaka Kai. They are currently providing about 800 boxes of food per week. They have experienced a huge increase in demand, with 8,650 parcels distributed in Sept/Oct. This almost equalled the 8,792 parcels distributed for the whole of 2020!
Adam is one of the two of their volunteers that are among the 100 Local Medallists for the Local Hero of the Year Award Te Pou Toko o te Tau. Adam starts his days bright and early, volunteering each morning at Visionwest foodbank. The youth worker arrives every weekday at 6.45am and does much of the heavy lifting needed to run the foodbank before starting his day job at 9am. Adam began volunteering with Visionwest during the first Covid-19 lockdown and never stopped. At the end of his workday, he returns to the foodbank for another afternoon shift. Adam’s extraordinary contribution comes on top of his job helping rangatahi living on the streets. Through his dedication, energy, and kindness he has helped feed more than 1,000 families in the last year.
Feed the Streets, now part of Kai Avondale, is a familiar part of the Avondale community. It is part of the I Love Avondale organisation. The team providing regular dinners for those in need, and a food bank, is headed by local identity Anne Riley. Anne says, “At Kai Avondale we have seen an increase in demand of over 100% since June 2021. We are assisting many people who have had work hours reduced and lost jobs during this current lockdown. With price increases especially around grocery items it is making it harder for the average families to make ends meet. This lockdown has seen more people needing assistance who have jobs.”
Glenavon Community Hub is a small food bank focused on its local community. It is referral based, responding to needs identified through local schools, community hubs and Kāinga Ora. There is a lot of Kāinga Ora housing in the hub’s area, so they work closely with the ministry in identifying and assisting people who need help. It is part of the new direction of Kāinga Ora to widen its social services beyond accommodation only.
During the Covid lockdown, Glen Avon Hub was unable to work from its base in the grounds of Glenavon School, so they temporarily combined their efforts with the Blockhouse Bay Baptist Food Bank and worked from the church site. They have seen demand increase recently and now interact with about 60 families a week. Led by Eva Wongchiu, they proactively listen for opportunities to find other ways to help families. This might be introducing people to other services or assisting them find employment by helping them with writing CVs. Sometimes, Eva asks them “If the food bank is not here tomorrow, what will you do then?” This opens the conversation to find other ways forward. Many people in our community are volunteering their time to food banks as a practical way to help others who are facing overwhelming needs. It really is community in action.
We’ve all worked incredibly hard over the past few months to keep ourselves and the rest of New Zealand safe. It has been incredibly tough going but we can now look ahead to a new phase in our response which will allow us to enjoy a safe summer reconnecting with loved ones across the motu.
Our approach so far has served us well. We’re entering this new phase better placed than many other countries, with high vaccination rates, a strong economy, and fewer hospitalisations and deaths. Many countries that recently removed restrictions are now putting them back in place as they face a surge in fourth and fifth waves.
Cabinet has confirmed that we will move to the Covid-19 Protection Framework at 11.59pm on Thursday 2 December, making Friday 3 December the first day the traffic light system will be operationalised. Here in Auckland, we’ll initially move into the Red setting of the new framework. When that happens, you’ll need proof of vaccination so you can do many of the things you love – like going out to bars and restaurants, getting a haircut, or working out at the gym.
If you’re fully vaccinated, visit mycovidrecord.health.nz and request your Vaccine Pass or call 0800 222 478. It’s very easy and I don’t want anyone in the New Lynn electorate to miss out. 90% of those living in the Auckland DHB have had both doses of the vaccine. That is an amazing response, and I thank all of you who have stepped up.
The Auckland boundary will be opening on 15 December, so we can reconnect with loved ones. Until 17 January, travellers with a valid vaccination pass or negative pre-departure test will be able to cross the Auckland boundary for any reason. This safety net will reduce spread and allow us to safely spend our summer holidays with family and friends. After this, there will no longer be a boundary in place around Auckland.
I wish you all a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Year as you connect with your loved ones over summer.
West Auckland Licensing Trust Action Group (WALTAG) has failed in its bid to force a poll on the monopoly in the sale of liquor in off license premises and taverns in Trust controlled parts of West Auckland.
WALTAG volunteers spent several years collecting over 38,000 signatures for their petition to the Waitākere Licensing Trust. The scrutineer found that it was 934 short of the 16,910 required to trigger a referendum. Insufficient signatures could be matched with the electoral roll.
While such a huge discrepancy seems unlikely, contributing factors included: People who shop in the licensing area but don’t live there, so not qualifying as they are not on the relevant electoral roll, duplicate signatures, incomplete details, and illegible signatures.
WALTAG can’t just find the extra signatures needed, they would need to start again with a whole new petition. “We accept it, but it is a surprise, and we wouldn’t have handed it in if we had not been confident,” said WALTAG spokesman, Nick Smale.
Linda Cooper, President of the Waitākere Licensing Trust, says despite the shortfall in petition signatures the Trusts have taken on board feedback from this sector of the community.
“We want to acknowledge the hard work undertaken by the petition organisers over recent years and the passion they have shown for their community.”
Allan Pollard, who became the trust chief executive less than two years ago, said about the petition “It was a strong effort, that has to be recognised.” Regarding the future direction of the Trusts, he said “We know we have got work to do.”
The Trusts still enjoy significant community support and there is concern that losing their monopoly would result in less support for community organisations. There is also the worry about proliferation of liquor stores if The Trusts were to change their status.
Allan is the new face of The Trusts and is steering the organisation in a changed direction. Part of that is the hybrid model where four stores are being converted to Liquorland franchises, while still being operated by The Trusts. These stores will carry the same product range at the same prices as other Liquorland stores. This is one of the initiatives being introduced to modernise The Trusts. At the last election, two WALTAG representatives were elected onto Trust boards. Under their OIA requests, more information has become public leading to greater transparency from The Trusts than ever before. If WALTAG was to start a new petition now, it would be from a weaker position than several years ago as the Trusts have moved to address some of the issues that WALTAG campaigned on previously.