'We did our best to fight for our community': South Auckland loses battle for airport shares

1:29 pm on 23 May 2024
Auckland International Airport - flights canned due to Cyclone Gabrielle

Auckland Council's Governing Body voted on the city's long-term plan which included the sale of 11 percent of its stake in Auckland Airport. Photo: LDR / Stuff / Stephen Forbes

South Auckland councillors and local boards say last week's long-term plan (LTP) decision was a lost battle for the council's remaining 11 percent stake in Auckland Airport.

This week, councillor Lotu Fuli told the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board that she and fellow Manukau ward councillor Alf Filipaina did their best to maintain some ownership of the major southside asset.

"Councillor Filipaina and I gave our views. We did our best to fight for the community," Fuli said.

Last week's LTP vote supported mayor Wayne Brown's proposal to create an Auckland Future Fund, which would use Auckland Council's stake in Auckland Airport to pay for a fund manager.

The Governing Body's support for fund means Auckland Council's remaining 11 percent shareholding in Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) will be sold and the proceeds will go to the financial management of an Auckland Future Fund, according to Brown's LTP.

Local board member Ashraf Choudhary asked Fuli if all airport shares would be sold.

Fuli responded that financial advice to the Governing Body has stated that "all shares will be sold very quickly".

She said creating the future fund will mean Auckland's assets will go into more profitable investments.

When Choudhary asked if new investments will bring guaranteed income at the same rate as AIAL, Fuli said, "these are all uncertainties I tried to raise in the debate".

Manukau ward councillors Alf Filipaina (left) and Lotu Fuli (right).

Manukau ward councillors Alf Filipaina (left) and Lotu Fuli (right). Photo: LDR

She said the Governing Body would discuss the choice of fund's trustees and protection policies in the coming months.

"We have been advised there will be protections in place, but there is no guarantee," Fuli said.

Local board chairperson Apulu Reece Autagavaia praised Fuli and Filipaina for representing the community's views last week.

"It was a hard battle," Autagavaia said.

"We will continue to fight for our communities. Thank you for your hard work. It's not unnoticed in our community," he said to Fuli.

The proposal was criticised by South Auckland local boards and councillors before the vote.

The day before the LTP vote, Filipaina told the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board that the sale of airport shares will be a "slap in the face" for Manukau.

"I will not be supporting airport shares going into the fund," Filipaina said.

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board opposed the creation of the fund and airport share sales.

"We 100 percent oppose the sale of the remaining shares," board chairperson Tauanu'u Nick Bakulich told Local Democracy Reporting earlier this month.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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