9 Jun 2015

Disappointment at super city scrapping

8:01 pm on 9 June 2015

A South Wairarapa Māori Standing committee representative is disappointed plans have been scrapped to create a super city council for the Greater Wellington region.

The view towards the Hutt Valley from the Wellington suburb of Roseneath.

The view towards the Hutt Valley from the Wellington suburb of Roseneath. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Local Government Commission proposed to join all nine councils in the rohe into one single authority with one mayor, 21 councillors and eight local boards.

It is now ditching the proposal following a public backlash, with 89 percent of the 9,000 submissions opposing it.

A member of the Māori Standing Committee, representing Kohunui Marae, Terry Te Maari, said it was annoying because his group's new proposal for Māori representation had gone down the drain.

"Disappointed in terms of the outcome," Mr Te Maari said.

"Disappointed in a sense that it was bringing forward the notion that something had to be done from a governance point of view.

"Now that it's all over I'm not displeased by it because I was more in favour of a unitary authority for the Wairarapa rohe, and I still think that will go ahead, or at least they'll go down that road and talk a bit more about it."

Mr Te Maari said the issue would be discussed at the next Standing Committee meeting before the end of the month.

Te Manu Korihi reported in April that although grassroots Māori were against the supercity plan, iwi leaders in Wairarapa were supporting it.

That view was also shared by Porirua-based iwi Ngāti Toa along with the Porirua City Council Mayor Nick Leggett, who said that local governance in the Wellington region was well overdue.

Wellington and Hutt Valley based iwi, Te Ātiawa, were non-commital about the merger while the Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Wellington, Kāpiti Coast and three Wairarapa mayors all rejected the plan.

South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples said she was thrilled with the decision that Wairarapa would remain separate from the Wellington region.

She described her council's relationship with iwi as being very positive.

Mayor of Carterton John Booth also said he had a constructive partnership with mana whenua.

New Zealand First celebrates binning the super city proposal

Former Carterton Mayor Ron Mark was also applauding the decision to scrap the supercity plan.

Mr Mark, a New Zealand First MP and its spokesperson for Local Government, said ratepayers who feared being swallowed up by Wellington have reason to celebrate.

"There was never a grassroots demand for a Wellington super city," said Ron Mark.

"It's taken a lot of money and time for the commission to understand that and withdraw the proposal. It was the obsession of certain parties with amalgamation that was driving the push for bigger is best.

"It is a pity the Local Government Commission bought into the propaganda and scotched Wairarapa's proposal to establish a unitary authority, a move that has put sensible amalgamations back another 10 years.

"We warned that the people of the Wairarapa, the Hutt, Kapiti and Porirua would be strangled by the Wellington bureaucracy, lose control of their assets and their ability to develop communities as they saw fit.

"All the evidence from Auckland shows that bigger has not brought rewards at community level. Locals boards do not have control over what happens in their community and rates have skyrocketed," said Mr Mark.

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