Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Manukau community warned on Auckland Long Term Plan

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Auckland councillor wants South Auckland to show up with a strong voice for LTP. Photo: Jared Williamson/Stuff
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

By Kim Meredith of Local Democracy Reporting

Auckland councillor Lotu Fuli is warning her Manukau community, it will need to exercise a much stronger voice as the Governing Body establishes its 10-year Long Term Plan (LTP).

Auckland Council are currently working through the LTP in closed workshops and public consultations will be called for later this year.

“This will be a much bigger fight and much more important. I was really encouraged by how strongly our communities came out around the annual budget; I hope they will come out even stronger with the Long Term Plan,” she says.

The recent annual budget demonstrated left-leaning councillors were outnumbered when it came to stopping the sale of the Council-owned Auckland International Airport Limited shares and saddling local boards with the funding of ten of council’s Kauri Kids Early Childhood Centres.

“As we saw, we don’t have the numbers to really back our communities, so it will come down to that community voice, we are setting the future for next 10 years, this is much more important.”

Councillor Fuli was also unable to pass an amendment that sought to investigate the viability of the regionally funded Kauri Kids centres.

“I agree we need to look at the future, but I don’t agree just cutting them off like that. Local Boards need time to work with Kauri Kids, it needs a local approach.”

The decision means local boards such as Ōtara-Papatoetoe have been saddled with finding $300,000 to keep its two local council-funded childhood centres running. She says the board was mindful of jobs for teachers, support staff and cleaners, as well as supporting working families.

“Every local board will be going through that right now, thinking even if it is a profitable ECE, they’ve kind of been kneecapped because they have to somehow find that money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, while they investigate whether it’s profitable and worthwhile to keep going for their communities; and we as a Council have already cut their funding, and now that’s basically cutting it again by hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Fuli, a lawyer and teacher, from Ōtara is celebrating 10 years as a politician and notably the rise of Pacific representation in local body politics.

“I really enjoyed the local governance space because we are governors of our local space and everything is about delivering positive outcomes for your community, and we all have the same priorities, the wheels grind slowly but at the end you can see the outcome of your mahi. If you drive past Hayman Park, you can see the destination playground that is going up, it’ll be finished in a couple of weeks, that took six, seven years to get across the line, but it’s amazing and will be there for a long time.”

She said the difference being at the governing body, brought a completely different sort of fight and space.

“Now I’m sitting around the table with people from all across the city, each councillor in their own right represents their community, and because Auckland is such a diverse place, everyone has got really diverse ideas and perspectives and that’s a challenge in itself because I’ll be speaking about equity, and so will Alf [Filipaina] and so will Josephine [Bartley] from a very Pacifica point of view; from a very vulnerable community point of view for Alf and I, talking about a south Auckland point of view… but it’s so difficult to reach across the table and make people understand what we’re talking about.”

Councillor Fuli says despite the setbacks she was optimistic about the LTP investing in south Auckland communities, encouraged by the recent experience of Council finalising its annual budget. The former Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board chair, now seven months into her role on the governance body, says the long and protracted debate had brought about some unexpected gains.

“We made alliances with people who were from different areas of Auckland, we found common ground with councillors who wanted to save the airport shares and the ECEs.

I think that whole ongoing debate helped to break down some of those barriers. And at the end of that, we said it’s been a really, gruelling time but at the end of it we also found some commonalities. At the end of the day, we do want the best for our city. We recognise that our city is diverse, that in working together as a team we found that commonality in our humanity.”

Local democracy reporting

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