Supercity fight continues

The fight to save Papakura from being swallowed up by the Auckland supercity has stepped up a notch.

Mayor Calum Penrose, community group SavePapakura.com and the Papakura District Council last week wrote to Local Government Minister Rodney Hide asking that Papakura be allowed to become a unitary authority.

The move comes a few weeks after the Franklin District Council wrote to Mr Hide with a similar request.

As a unitary authority Papakura wouldn’t be included in the new Auckland Council and its council would
fulfil the functions of both a local and regional council.

"Our main concern with the supercity is the reduction in local democracy," says SavePapakura.com’s spokeswoman Janet Phare.

"Our group’s preference, like that of many people in Papakura we have spoken to, would be for Papakura to be left to stand on its own outside the supercity.

"Papakura has a proud history and community identity and has managed to govern itself at a local level very successfully for over 150 years."

District councillor Caroline Conroy says Papakura sits just under the population threshold of 50,000 to become a unitary authority but "the minister can grant an exemption and Papakura will also get to that population figure in a couple of years".

But she says Mr Hide will probably "do what he’s done with the rest of the process – ignore the community’s concerns and requests".

"It’s clear they haven’t taken into consideration anybody’s submissions or the points they’ve raised."

Two weeks ago more than 50 people turned up to a local meeting about the supercity’s proposed wards and boards.

Under the proposed new Auckland Council plans Papakura and Manurewa will become one ward with two boards. The ward would be represented by two elected councillors.

Ms Conroy was at the meeting and says Papakura residents don’t want to be part of a combined ward – they want Papakura to stand alone.

Manurewa’s population is double that of Papakura’s and "just from a voting point of view, we will always struggle to get someone selected from Papakura", she says.

"Papakura is a distinct community – it should have its own councillor."

Ms Phare says if the bid to become a unitary authority is declined and the district "must be saddled with the supercity, having our own ward and representative councillor is only a small consolation for what we stand to lose".

For more information see www.savepapakura.com or www.papakura.govt.nz.

Papakura Courier