14 Oct 2022

Auckland Council chairman pushes back on mayor Wayne Brown's call for him to quit

1:29 pm on 14 October 2022

By Todd Niall of Stuff

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown at a campaign debate

Photo: Stuff / Ricky Wilson

One of Auckland mayor Wayne Brown's resignation targets has pushed back, telling staff of the council development arm Eke Panuku that any call for change will have to come from the full council.

"There are critical operational requirements which cannot be undertaken without director sign-off and involvement," said Panuku board chairman Paul Majurey in a letter to staff on the agency's website.

"If Council decides to make changes in our scope and operation we will of course support this," he said, underlining that council-controlled organisations (CCOs), answer to the council, not the mayor.

Brown's main political message since being elected has been calling for all directors of three CCOs to quit, but onlythe chairwoman of Auckland Transport, Adrienne Young-Cooper, so far has - saying she went "willingly".

"Eke Panuku Development Auckland receives millions from ratepayers each year and returns very little," Brown said on Monday, of the agency which profitably manages council property and carries out urban regeneration projects.

Chair of the Hauraki and Marutūahu collectives, Paul Majurey

Paul Majurey is the chairman of council agency Eke Panuku. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Majurey told staff the post-election transition could bring uncertainty, but emphasised the basis on which the board and staff could, and should, proceed.

"We have an Auckland Council-endorsed Statement of Intent, business plan and budget for the year and are implementing all the outcomes set by Council," said Majurey.

The chair countered Brown's line that the agency was a "property developer".

"The nature of urban regeneration, as opposed to property development, is to invest in the future of Tāmaki Makaurau which is why we have a Wynyard Quarter and emerging centres such as Northcote, Avondale, Takapuna, Panmure and Manukau," he said.

"The creation of thriving town centres and support for the Council group has never been more important following the ongoing impacts of the Covid years," he said.

Majurey pointed out that any council decision to change governance would need to happen in an orderly manner: "I will be talking to senior council leaders to achieve a businesslike process."

Morale at Eke Panuku will have been boosted by last night after winning a national award from the Institute of Landscape Architects for its work around the Puhinui Reserve in south Auckland, which includes environmental improvement, cycle and walkways, providing recreation areas away from major roading.

A second council agency where Brown wants the board to quit is the culture and economic development agency Tātaki Auckland Unlimited which last night won the top prize from Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) for a post-Covid-19 business recovery programme.

Brown called that organisation "a travel agency" and has yet to meet the leadership of any of the CCOs.

The mayor intends next week to present his priorities for the CCOs.

* This story originally appeared on Stuff.

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