Our Waiheke spokesperson John Meeuwsen is disappointed by a decision to treat the island’s breakaway bid as part of wider Auckland Council reorganisation.
He says the attempt to create a unitary council on Waiheke could be “disadvantaged” by the process that the Local Government Commission has decided on.
The commission plans to consider Our Waiheke’s application as an “alternative application” in the process started by the Northern Action Group, which wants a unitary council for North Rodney.
The Waiheke and North Rodney applications will be treated as two options for how local government in the Auckland Council area could be reorganised, rather than being assessed in two separate processes.
Mr Meeuwsen says the commission has already decided that Our Waiheke’s application should be assessed, and the application is to break away from Auckland Council, not to alter the council’s organisation.
North Rodney’s application is also to break away, not to reorganise Auckland Council.
The commission has decided that North Rodney’s breakaway bid affects all of the Auckland Council area, but will not separately decide if Waiheke’s application affects the whole Auckland region or just the island.
“By adding our application to North Rodney’s, the commission has sidestepped the prescribed second stage – that of deciding whether establishing a Waiheke council would have a “material effect” on the operations of the Auckland Council,” says Mr Meeuwsen.
Our Waiheke has argued that it would be “drawing a long bow” to claim that the island breaking away could significantly affect the operations of Auckland Council, given that Waiheke is home to 0.6 per cent of Auckland’s population, is separated by sea from any Auckland infrastructure, and can easily be
He hopes to meet with the commission to discuss the process for considering Waiheke’s application and says the
decision to lump the island in with wider Auckland Council reorganisation “begs legal questions”.
“The current legislation makes no provision for dealing with separate applications together and we believe doing so will complicate consultation with the communities potentially affected.
“We will raise questions with the commission until we are satisfied that it has not materially disadvantaged our community’s right to a fair process on this matter,” he says.
Local Government Commission chair Sir Wira Gardiner says “careful consideration” has been given to the best process for assessing Our Waiheke’s application “in the current context”.
“The Our Waiheke application will receive appropriate assessment by the commission, along with all other alternative applications received by the commission, in the same way that this would occur as part of a separate Waiheke-only process,” says Sir Wira. • Rose Davis