Supercity protesters hit the streets

Last updated 20:05 22/04/2009

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Protesters crowded on to the streets of west Auckland today to demonstrate their opposition to the Government's approach to the proposed Auckland "supercity".

The protest was organised by the Community Coalition for Auckland, which said about 1000 people joined in.

Coalition spokesman Tony Mayow said the protest was about protecting the right for all Aucklanders to have their say about decisions which could affect them and their children.

"This is the biggest challenge that Auckland has faced in its entire history. It's inconceivable that 1.4 million people are not able to have a say in it," Mr Mayow said.

The basis of the super-city proposal came from a royal commission report recommending bringing the city together under one mayor.

However, while sticking with the basic plan of centralising the city's governance structure, the Government has been accused of rail-roading an amended proposal through and putting democracy at risk.

Critics say the Government's plan to set up a raft of community boards to represent ratepayers is inadequate, and that such outfits would have few resources with little or no power.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has copped plenty of criticism to date over the proposal, and got more today.

"We reject the undemocratic "Rodney Hide" version of the report that the Go vernment has presented as a done deal to the people of Auckland," Mr Mayow said.

While the coalition accepted that change was needed, it had to work for all the people of Auckland, "not just for Rodney Hide and the interests of big business".

Along with community groups, there has also been discontent from leaders, with Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey and Green MP Metiria Turei reported to have joined today's protest, and local Maori.

Maori are angry at the Government's plans to not set aside seats for iwi representatives on the proposed super council – despite the Royal Commission's recommendation – and will target the city centre in a protest late next month.

Protester Jeremy Snowsill said the commission's report was not perfect, "but it was a damn good start".

"Rodney Hide's sham version that he's forcing on Auckland was thrown together in just three days," Mr Snowsill said.

- NZPA

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