Fowler and Bazley push for super city

KATIE CHAPMAN
WELLINGTON REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2012

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One's a Dame and the other's a knight - and they both want Wellington to be a super city.

Two of Wellington's most distinguished residents - Sir Michael Fowler and Dame Margaret Bazley are among those adding their voices to the amalgamation debate.

Both have made submissions to Wellington City Council, and will speak at public hearings next week in support of creating one council for the whole greater Wellington region.

More than 1200 people have made submissions to Wellington City Council on four local government reform options, with 77 per cent saying they support change.

The two most drastic options - a Wellington unitary council and a Wairarapa council, or one super city council - garnered the most support.

Sir Michael, a former Wellington mayor, submitted in support of one council, saying the city should have a majority on the council, which should extend up to Otaki.

Local boards should also be established "to keep them happy, a training ground for future councillors", the submission said.

But yesterday Sir Michael said he felt there should be two councils, in Wellington and Wairarapa.

The Rimutaka Hill was too big of a barrier to true amalgamation, he said.

"The hill is too big, it's a different culture altogether there [in Wairarapa] . . . They're different from Wellingtonians and they have a different outlook on life.

"There has to be a commonality of outlook and aspirations and there's no such thing between the Wairarapa and Wellington."

Sir Michael said he had championed amalgamation when he was on the council, but the idea was never well received. However, he was confident it would happen now.

Dame Margaret, who was made a member of the Order of New Zealand in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours, has most recently held the controversial role of Environment Canterbury chairwoman after the elected council was stood down and replaced by commissioners in 2010.

She too made a submission in support of a single council, including the Wairarapa. "Strategic leadership for the whole region and beyond is needed if the lower North Island is to compete with Auckland Council and the northern alliance for their share of the national resource."

She advocated local boards as well, but said they would require "strong leadership and regular interface with the council".

Acting Mayor Ian McKinnon said both Sir Michael and Dame Margaret had a lot to add to the amalgamation debate.

"We certainly acknowledge their understanding of local government through their considerable involvement in the sector.

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"Their submissions, which are much appreciated, will certainly be noted, but obviously must be noted alongside the 1200 other submissions received."

There will be two days of public hearings next week.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Email: katie.chapman@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @katiechapman28

- The Dominion Post

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