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Building a 'better' Waikato

The following is the latest PR from the WRC:

Building a better Waikato was the key focus of the 150 people who attended the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) conference at the Don Rowlands Event Centre at Karapiro last Friday.

Entitled “Rethinking Local Government – International trends and thoughts for the Waikato”, the conference discussed pressures and trends around local government reform in Australasia, as well as experiences and lessons for Waikato in the light of reforms in Auckland.

Peter McKinlay, IPANZ convenor and director of Auckland University of Technology’s Centre for Local Government, spoke on international trends for local government, and how these might translate to the Waikato region.

Business journalist Rod Oram spoke about the need for communities to have a common purpose across economic, environmental and social spheres, and that local government needed to get better at helping communities “articulate, visualize and realize” their broad goals.

Bob Harvey, chair of the Auckland Waterfront development council controlled organization and former mayor of Waitakere, said the might of Auckland threatened other regions in the battle for resources, and that the Waikato needed to start thinking about where it was going to be in the next 20 to 30 years.

“It’s a dog eat dog world so get yourself a bigger dog,” he told the audience.

Waikato University professor of demography Natalie Jackson sounded a warning about the effects of looming demographic shifts on the Waikato region. Most growth would be in the Hamilton city and Waikato and Waipa districts, while other areas would have declining, ageing populations, she said.
Stephen Selwood, chief executive, New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development, put forward a diagram showing a possible option for local government in Waikato, with one large council for regionwide strategic issues, community councils to give a local voice to local issues, and council controlled organisations for the delivery of key services.
Mike Pohio, chief executive Tainui Group Holdings Ltd, outlined what the private sector wants from local government.

View highlights and keynote speakers at

You get the drift - this IPANZ conference appears to have been a 'love-in' for the Auckland LG model.

Even Bob Harvey who was so critical of this model from the outset is now saying "It's a dog eat dog world, so get yourself a bigger dog" - I don't know if that if that is an appropriate allusion - I know plenty of smaller dogs who have more mongrel, and who are quite capable of taking  larger slow-moving canines apart limb by limb. 

Before everyone gets carried away with this wonderful new world, consider the prospect of WRC being brought further into our lives - not a prospect that I find at all persuasive. I am waiting to hear the reply from those who are promoting the unitary council concept, and the break-up of the WRC and its all-encompassing planning role that relegates district council's to a purely secondary role.

The sooner an alternative voice is heard, the better - otherwise the views promoted at the well attended NZANZ Conference will gain an unassailable hold, and Government will respond what must be music to its ears in regard to local government reform.  




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