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A Waiheke Island Myth Part 1 On Waiheke Island, New Zealand, a myth has grown up among a handful of people in the Rocky Bay Village th...

Friday, 21 August 2009


It's official. The village-rural Hauraki Gulf Islands, where people are one to every 55,000 square kilometres, have a community of interest with Auckland city, where people are one to every 360m square metres, but none with with the village-rural Coromandel Peninsula, where people are one to every 88,000 square metres.

That must be true. No, really, it must, because the 'independent statutory authority', the Local Government Commission, said so when it announced at 11:00am today (Friday the 21st of June 2009) that it would not be proceeding with the application to transfer the islands from Auckland's rule to Thames-Coromandel's. Two members of the LGC came to the Waiheke Community Board's boardroom to make the announcement (both Aucklanders, one recently appointed by the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, to 'liase' with Hide's creation, the Auckland Transitional Agency).

But the decision was of course political. And no surprise. I have a letter from Rodney Hide dated the 9th of June in which he said that the Hauraki Gulf Islands would be staying inside Auckland's boundaries. So the LGC did its master's bidding. So much for the 'independent statutory authority.'

The rest of the Community Board certainly failed to do its job in the Thames-Coromandel exercise. After the election, like everyone elected to local government, they each swore 'faithfully and impartially to the best of their skill and judgement to act in the best interests of the Waiheke Community.' But they did no research, so they could not know which council was best. And obviously did not care, because in their submission to the LGC they said they could not be bothered.

Auckland Council is only a 4 out of 10; Thames-Coromandel is an 8 (and the National Research Bureau finds a 80-84% general satisfaction-rating each year). Thames-Coromandel is far better in every respect, especially for a community like ours. A far better mayor, a far better CEO, far better staff, far better organisational structure (Auckland has none worthy of the name), and far closer to the community. Thames-Coromandel has two ears and one mouth. Auckland has a very different anatomy.

So we tried for the best available, got the worst, and now we must live in Rodney Hide's head. No one could call that the best way to live. Not even him.

(In the General Election on November the 8th last year, Rodney Hide's ACT Party got exactly 150 votes from the Hauraki Gulf Islands--out of 4051. The ACT candidate got exactly 40--out of 4046.)

In 1989 the islands had 100% of the vote, 100% of the say and 100% of the councillors, because we had our own councils. The LGC of 1989 dumped us into the city where we soared to 2.3% of the vote, less of the say, and only one besieged councillor. Now the LGC of 2009 has dumped us into the Super Silly, where we shall have only 0.6% of the vote, even less of the say and (bar a miracle) no councillor at all.

Where from here? Babies. We need enough babies or new islanders (real islanders, not Aucklanders who sleep here), so that we have a population a tad over 10,000 at the next census night. Then we can go back to the LGC and ask for our own council. But while this government lasts, and this LGC is what it is, even that would not work.

But the possibility remains. Therefore so does the threat that if the new powers that be are not nice to us we can go back and try again in two years' time.

The only other ploy is to get the UNESCO World Heritage Status. Then there would be some international clout.

In the meantime it is a law of the jungle that those who rule you tend to make you more and more like them. Expect to see more and more citification of these village-rural islands.