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Saturday, 18 July 2009

AUCKLAND IS NOT LEGALLY A CITY

The flurry of amalgamations in New Zealand in 1989 got rather carried away, and when some of the country's 'cities' were createdthe small matter of the law was overlooked.

In New Zealand law, no district, no territory can be called a city, or its corporation a city council, unless it satisifies three criteria. It must have a population of at least 50,000. It must be a distinct entity and a major centre of activity in its region. And it must be predominantly urban. (The relevant bit of law, which was the same in 1989, is now in Clause 7 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, which can be read at www.legislation.co.nz).

Auckland 'City', Wellington 'City', Waitakere 'City' and Upper Hutt 'City' are not legally cities, because they are not predominantly urban, and there may be others. The Local Government Commission of 1989 obviously did not check to see if what they were creating complied witht the law.

When Auckland's 154.154 square kilometres was amalgamated with the Hauraki Gulf Island's 475.5 square kilometres on the 1st of November 1989, the new district was only 24.5% urban. No district that is 75.5% village-rural can call itself predominantly urban, so Auckland has not legally been a city for twenty years. Therefore every decision made over the signature, so to speak, of 'Auckland City' since 1/11/1989 has been illegal. Millions of rates notices, for example.

The Local Government Commission says Wellington is 70% rural, Waitakere is 78% rural, Upper Hutt is 92%. 92% baa-lambs, moo-cows, and blokes getting about on farm-bikes, and they called it a city! Big boo-boo, big legal mess.

The amalgamation of the Hauraki Gulf Islands with Auckland in 1989 was therefore illegal. It voided Auckland's city status. It also breached the fundamental of community of interest, because the law makes it very clear that for the sake of achieving good local government the predominantly urban and the predominantly non-urban must be kept separate. Chalk and cheese should not be put together. The two distinct types of community should not be ruled by each other.

That is why the Islands have had chronic problems with Auckland, caused by Auckland's inability to understand a village-rural-island district.