Another former All Black gives super-city plan a kicking

Former All Black and Wellington Lions coach Earle Kirton give the Local Government Commission his view on the Wellington ...

Former All Black and Wellington Lions coach Earle Kirton give the Local Government Commission his view on the Wellington super-city proposal at a hearing in Upper Hutt.

Another former All Black has put the boot into the Wellington super-city proposal.

Earle Kirton, who played 13 tests for the All Blacks and coached Wellington to NPC success in 1986, delivered a sharp rebuke to the super-city proposal when he addressed the Local Government Commission yesterday.

Kirton, 74, lives in Upper Hutt, where he was raised. He, along with a "vast majority" of the local community, were firmly against the idea of having one council to cover Wellington, Hutt Valley, Porirua, Kapiti and Wairarapa, he said.

If that were to happen, Upper Hutt would revert to being a "powerless, suburban backwater".

"I've lived here for 70 years and I don't think I've ever seen such feeling over the chance of losing the city's identity," he said. "We can't be swallowed up. We want a voice - preferably not [regional council chairwoman] Fran Wilde's."

Kirton was fast and elusive when playing at first five-eighth during the 1960s, but he was anything but that in front of the commission yesterday.

Clearly passionate about his topic, he spoke well beyond his allotted 10 minutes and refused to leave the speaker's table when asked by commission staff, earning him a reprimand.

Kirton's comments come after All Black great Sir Brian Lochore expressed a similar view on the super-city in March.

Lochore said the culture east of the Rimutakas was different to that in Wellington, which would not care about the people "over the hill" if it became the seat of power.

Kirton said the people of Upper Hutt felt the same way. He had little faith that a super-council based in the capital would have the knowledge or experience to dictate good policies for Upper Hutt.

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The commission is currently hearing public submissions on its proposal to combine the Wellington region's nine existing councils into one.

The new system would see a mayor and 21 councillors decide issues of regional importance, while eight local boards would make decisions specific to their areas.

 - The Dominion Post

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