Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

South Auckland local boards encourage people to have their say

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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Two South Auckland local board leaders are encouraging Pasifika people to have their say in the upcoming review of local government.

The heads of two South Auckland local boards are concerned about representation for Pasifika people in an upcoming review of local boards in the Auckland supercity. 

The review is made up of two processes, a representation across councils and a review of the current number of local boards. 

Otara-Papatoetoe local board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia acknowledges that cost-cutting is part of the review and that he worries about how it will impact the community.

“There’s probably preconceived ideas on that one from different parties on what that might look like but they will all have an impact on our communities … representation is really important for our communities,” he says.

“If we don’t have proper representation then our views won’t be heard, decisions will be made on our behalf.”

Apulu says, while the wider community may not be talking about the review, the community lets them know what they want.

“We hear from our community every day about needing better council facilities, better car parks, better parks and pools … we hear there’s a need for our community to have these council services and so the cuts to funding will definitely have an impact on what we can provide.”

Mangere-Otahuhu local board chair Tauanu’u Nick Bakulich says has his concerns, saying any reduction in the number of local boards does not make sense.

“We also don’t know what this means for us in terms of investment or what is going to be made available to us on what we can spend and what we can invest back into the community so there are a number of unknowns in this particular reorganisation,” he says. 

“This proposal hasn’t been around too long and there’s a concern because there hasn’t been enough time for us to hear the pros and cons of the proposal and to this day we still don’t know how this might positively affect our communities and at the moment there are far too many unanswered questions.”.

In a statement Rose Leonard from Auckland Council Governance Services says,  “When the supercity was formed in 2010, Auckland Council did not choose the number of local boards we have. Now fourteen years on, it’s time to consider whether 21 local boards is the right model for the future. 

“Local boards have been asked for their views in the early stages of the council’s review on representation, and that has provided us with valuable feedback.”

While discussions are still ongoing with local board representatives, the public will be given a chance to have their say on the review. Tauanu’u says the time frame for consultation is limited.

“That period won’t be too long in terms of how long the community has got to submit, which is roughly around a four-week period. So it’s not a lot of time, and I think we as a community really do need to rally and look at the detail and put in your thoughts.”

Tauanu’u says while they, as elected members have given their thoughts, the community might look at things differently. 

Apulu acknowledges that the community is facing challenges with cost of living and recent job cuts, however he would like people to make sure their voices are heard.

“We still need our people to come through with that feedback so we can go to the governing body and say this is what our community are saying. This is going to hurt us if you do X, Y and Z,” Apulu says. 

The current structure for the Auckland local boards is 21 local boards with 18 subdivisions with 149 elected members, the proposed changes would see 15 local boards with 21 subdivisions and 137 local board elected members.

The proposal also includes the merging of 12 (six to eight member) boards including Otara/Papatoetoe and Mangere/Otahuhu into six boards with 12 members on each board. For example Mangere/Otahuhu (seven members) and Otara/Papatoetoe (seven members) would merge into the Manukau local board with 12 members.

Apulu says, “is seven people enough to represent a local board or do we have two local boards join together and have 12 people looking after a bigger area, and then funding, do we need more funding or do we need less?” 

Apulu and Tauanu’u alongside their colleagues continue to talanoa with their councillors Alf Filipaina and Lotu Fuli to thrash out the details. But in the meantime, they encourage people to have their say. 

Apulu says, “email me, ring me, if I’m along the side of the road, and ask me questions. It’s those face to face discussions that can really allow people to get into the nitty gritty details.”

Tauanu’u adds, “we as local board members, elected members, we have put the call out to the community. If you need to get in touch with us we’ll do our best putting the information onto our social forums where our people can go and make their submissions.”

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