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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...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Like all legislation, Rodney Hide's second Auckland bill is like a child's colouring book. Nothing but a lot of black lines on white paper. Whether it can be turned into a masterpiece depends on how good the lines are. Whether it will be depends on how skilfully it is finished.

Some of the lines provided in this Bill are good, some are indifferent, some are inadequate, some have some nasty traps; some are clear, some are fuzzy, some are safe, some are perilous, and some will not exist until 2012.

How good the final picture will be depends on the 'artists'--the 21 elected and the 6000 employed. If they are not much bothered about keeping within the lines, if they are not skilled at choosing the best pencils and paints, if they are careless about using the most fitting colours, if they do not know how to be creative and sensitive about adding rich and appropriate detail to the expanses of white, we will get a mess. A crayon scribble.

Whatever happens we face years of uncertainty while Local-Board/Council negotiations are made, bugs are worked out, and the elected and employed find their way round the new structure (and the dishonest figure out how to manipulate it).

One of the biggest flaws, especially considering that Rodney Hide bangs on so much about 'putting the local back in government', is that the CEO of the new empire is responsible for hiring all the staff, and local boards cannot hire or fire. That will tend to create a homogeneous bureacracy. If local boards really are going to be responsible for keeping the local character they will find themselves up against the perpetual obstacle of the cookie-cutter mentality of that huge centrally controlled bureacracy. Local boards should fight for control of local staffing.

The requirement for local boards to sign up to a code of conduct, although it sounds nice in principle to make sure people watch their P's and Q's, can be a very nasty way of suppressing them. The present community boards are exempt from a code, which does not mean they behave like Dunedin university students, but it does mean they are not under the prohibition in Auckland City Council's code of being forbidden from talking to any member of the staff except through the CEO. That is a code for control-freaks who want to run things behind the scenes without much chance of being got at by the people's representatives.

Which makes even more telling Franz Kafka's profound comment on government: 'After the dust of revolution has settled there arises the slime of a new bureaucracy.'

Friday, 4 September 2009


Copies of letters to Marketplace and Gulf News, expressing the same thing in different ways (Gulf News always provides more space than Marketplace).

The Local Government Commission, top-heavy with Aucklanders and dominated by Rodney Hide, has failed to get it. It has failed to see that the islands are not the city. It has also failed to understand that a council is a manager appointed by and for a community and that the best result can only come from appointing the best.

If you owned a company and had to choose between two management candidates, one who scored 8 out of 10 for ability and understood what your company was all about, and one who scored 4 and didn't, you would if you had any sense choose the 8.

The LGC has chosen to dump the 4 on us.

Thanks Mr Hide!


Gulf News:
What the Local Government Commission has said in effect is that the islands cannot exist without the city as a crutch, that Waihekeans cannot manage without Auckland--that we cannot manage in partnership with a community like ours; we can manage only if we are controlled by an entity completely unlike us.

That is a fusillade of falsehoods.

But it is hardly surprising. For twenty years we have had to put up with falsehoods directing us from Auckland, and the LGC is now dominated by Aucklanders--the latest appointment was put there by Rodney Hide so that he could get his own way. (Rodney's party got only 150 votes from the islands last November and his candidate got only 40).

The question put to the LGC was all about the quality of management. A council is a manager for a community, appointed by it and for it. If you owned a company and were appointing a manager for it, and had two candidates on offer, one who scored 8 out of 10 in all the tests and understood your company, and one who scored 4 and didn't, you would if you had any sense choose the 8.

The LGC has rejected the 8 and foisted the 4 on us. The illegal folly of 1989 has been repeated in 2009. The fundamental purpose of local government has been betrayed: 'To enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities.'

The false premise with which island life has had to contend for two decades has again been set in pseudo-legal concrete.

But it was worth having a shot at escaping to a far better council, one that understands our kind of community, where we would have had 23% of the vote and 3 councillors rather than the Super Silly's 0.6% of the vote. If we hadn't tried the fault would have been ours. Now it is the fault of the foisters.