Decision time for Auckland

I have been very proud to serve the Waitemata & Gulf Ward over the first three years of the Super City.  The ward based around the parliamentary seat of Auckland Central but including Parnell and Newmarket comprises Auckland’s most historic suburbs Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Arch Hill, Newton, Grafton, Herne, St Mary’s, Herne and Freeman’s Bays, the CBD, the waterfront, and the beautiful islands of the Hauraki Gulf – is in my view the ‘capital’ of Auckland and Auckland at its best.  Similarly the people of Waitemata & Gulf represent Auckland’s at its most creative, liberal, progressive, generous and go ahead.

The last 3 years have been challenging for the new Super City but led by an energetic and visionary mayor we have achieved something which should not be taken for granted and which many thought impossible 3 years ago – a cohesive, unified Auckland which is going forward.

I have served in local government for 18 years now – most of that time as member of the Auckland Regional Council – and from 2004 to 2010 as its last chairman.

As its legacy the ARC delivered to the Super City the regional parks network, the Ports of Auckland 100% in public hands, the exciting Wynyard Quarter redevelopment, with provision for a headland park on Wynyard Point, the opening up of Queens Wharf to the public and the decision to save Shed 10 and refurbish it as our premier cruise ship terminal. We delivered a public transport system in renaissance, including hard-won approval from first the Labour, then National-led governments for the electrification of Auckland rail – and laid the groundwork for City Rail Link project.

This legacy was taken up by Mayor Len Brown and incorporated into his wider Mayoral vision for Auckland, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by Aucklanders in 2010.  Its centre-piece the City Rail Link – is now supported by the government as announced by the Prime Minister in June.

To achieve this vision for Auckland requires unity of purpose, and a shared determination to stay the course.  That is why I am seeking your support as Councillor for Waitemata & Gulf for 3 more years. I have mentioned the achievements of the recent past, but the achievements over the next 3 years can be truly transformational.  Powerful, fast, quiet, new electric trains are now arriving in Auckland and will be in service early next year.  We will be getting a completely reorganized frequent bus system – to get people where they want to go.

I will also be pushing hard for new Light Rail, extending the Wynyard Quarter tramway across the bridge to Britomart making feasible a Light Rail option for inner city Auckland. I will also be pushing to complete a heritage train station at Parnell, and as I mentioned last month, supporting Skypath cycling and walking across the Harbour Bridge, and a Headland Park on Wynyard Point.

To achieve these goals, just as I will be supporting the Mayor, we need a Local Board working supportively with the Ward Councillor. It has been a pleasure to work with Shale Chambers and his City Vision Local Board members these past three years. Shale, Pippa, Tricia and Chris are hard-working, dedicated, and eager to serve this community.  They deserve to be re-elected along with Vernon, Deborah and Russell – please vote for the whole City Vision team.

The next 3 years will be absolutely critical for Auckland and so now the spotlight turns to you the voter.  Auckland is poised as if at a threshold – with the promise of a truly great city almost within our grasp.   But it is decision time and we must not falter.  If we do we will slide back to the same-old, same-old, fractious Auckland local body politics as usual. Rather we must push on – to build an Auckland where the quality of our civic infrastructure, our civic amenities, and Auckland’s built environment aspires to the truly sublime levels of Auckland’s natural landscape.

Mike Lee

Councillor for Waitemata & Gulf

(as published in the October issue of Ponsonby News)

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