Auckland Council

Has Bill Burrill been economical with the truth regarding his land sale?

Where there is smoke there is fire.

Earlier this week former Auckland Regional Councillor Bill Burrill was bleating to the NZ Herald that he was the unfortunate victim of rates rises and that he was pushed off his land forcing a sale of $39m.

But we have discovered that Burrill is frugal with the truth and hasn’t been living on the Flatbush land for over a decade.

In the NZ Herald Burrill was quoted as saying “Essentially the rates pushed us off. I sold it out of frustration,” he said bitterly, having moved 15km away to Mellons Bay …

Burrill has decried his plight, unable to subdivide nor to afford to stay.

“You end up in a situation where you’re absolutely stuck. You’re paying rates but unable to do anything with the land,” he complained.

But hang on…Burrill says he couldn’t afford to stay on the land.

But he hasn’t lived on the land since 2003. Further into the Herald article Mr Burrill is quoted as saying:

“Burrill bought in Mellons Bay because he had always wanted to hear the waves at night: “It doesn’t feel a lot different. It just means I’m not paying those horrific rates.”

But Burrill has lived on his property in Mellons Bay since 2003 paying $2 million for 1824 sqm of cliff top luxury. The Burrills were not pushed off their land by rates recently at all and nor were they struggling to pay the rates. The truth is that the Burrills chose to leave it some time ago, most likely leveraging against the already high value of their farmland in Flatbush.

But this is where the story gets murkier. Both Burrills were at various points of time – Councillors – on two of the most strategically important Council’s relative to their land holdings. Bill was 18 years on the ARC until it was dissolved (thus since 1992). Maggie on Manukau City Council until it was dissolved. Both have been (and perhaps still are) certified by the MFIE as Commissioners able to make planning decisions such as Plan Changes. In 2010 Maggie Burrill sat as Commissioner on the PC30 plan change for the expansion of Beachlands. Both are sophisticated, skilled and in positions of influence.  Read more »

A reader analyses Len’s crazy tolls idea


Hi guys

I thought I’d ‘run the numbers’ (and a very quick calculation, nothing exciting) regarding the proposed Auckland toll.

Now, for the time being, I won’t point out the lack of actual authority here. I have a far simpler question: is this actually value for money?

Forgetting the multi-cost option, the basic proposal is for a $2 toll per trip (regardless of distance).   Read more »

Len’s coming for your wallet again, this time it’s tolls

Len Brown just can’t help himself.

He is addicted to spending other people’s money and is looking for ways to further dip into your pockets.

Aucklanders could pay a motorway toll of about $2 under a congestion-busting plan being unveiled by Mayor Len Brown today.

The mayor is set to announce details for tolling existing state highways to plug a $12 billion-plus transport funding gap over the next 30 years.

A motorway user charge of about $2 is believed to be one of two options prepared by an independent alternative transport funding group.

The second option is a mix of higher rates and a regional fuel tax.

Both options are capable of raising about $300 million a year to fully deliver a $30 billion roading and public transport building programme over the next 30 years.

Read more »

$50,000 rates bill seems bad, until

‘Horrific” Auckland Council rates of nearly $50,000 a year on land still being grazed by livestock prompted the $37.9 million sale of one of the city’s largest land lots.

A Flat Bush farm sale on Murphys Rd also ends nearly a century’s involvement in the area and half a century’s control of the lush fields and native bush by the prominent Burrill family.

Bill Burrill, ex-Auckland Regional Council representative, has sold his 113ha site at 125 Murphys Rd with a rating valuation of $25,250,000 for $35,465,400. He has also sold the smaller neighbouring 1.8ha site at 89 Murphys Rd, with the house where he lived for decades, for $2,251,600.

“Essentially the rates pushed us off. I sold it out of frustration,” he said bitterly, having moved 15km away to Mellons Bay but leasing the land from its new owner to continue farming in the short term.

But Auckland councillor Dick Quax said the rates bill did not seem exorbitant on such a value property and Burrill had enjoyed all the amenities of being within Auckland. Read more »

Howcome a state house sculpture costs more than a state house?

Someone “leaked” this to Bernard Orsman (Dirty Council?)


It’s a concept drawing of the artwork that Auckland Council are considering.   Except, they must be planning to build it by using unicorn hair and fairy feathers, because the cost is other worldly…

Auckland Council announced plans for the sculpture in March last year, to be funded by a $1 million donation from Barfoot & Thompson, marking the company’s 90 years in business.

The documents show the cost of the sculpture – a “scaled version of a Mount Eden state house” by renowned artist Michael Parekowhai – had reached $1.9 million by May 2013.

With $800,000 budgeted for a crystal glass chandelier made in Venice to be enclosed within the house, the project came under review and the budget was scaled back to $1.5 million in July 2013.

Images of the sculpture have been shared with councillors but not the public, causing widespread criticism.

In February, Parekowhai told council public art manager Carole Anne Meehan he did not want early concept drawings and photos of a model to be “distributed publicly by anyone attending” a council meeting.

But several images were leaked to the Herald. They show a typical state house with external stairs leading to a platform offering multiple views of the chandelier filling the interior.

Seriously, wouldn’t Barfoot and Thompson putting $1M into an actual house and perhaps allowing people to live in it for 12 months at a time on some sort of scholarship make more sense?   I mean, it’s their own money, but good grief, what a stupid way to go about it.

The real problem is that the rate payer is going to get stung in the pocket too. Read more »

Some thoughts from a reader on RMA reform

A reader emails:

​It is great news that the Government is going to reform the RMA, but if the prime suspect is still operating with impunity will it make any difference?

Talk to anyone in the property industry and their eyes will roll back as they recount the endless torture endured at the hands of Local Government. Whilst many point the finger of blame at legislation there is no question that the bigger issue is the manner in which the law is implemented and administered by the control freaks within regional and local councils.

Hand in hand with reform of the RMA, needs to be systemic reform of the LGA to refine the functions and powers of Local Government.

What New Zealand doesn’t need is more bureaucracy and meddling by a gravy train of local officials.

What New Zealand needs is efficient competitive opportunities and pragmatic short term processes to allow planning approvals for urban areas. There is no question that the environment needs protecting in places and that the RMA has done well to ensure that empirical and judicial scrutiny is applied to development in sensitive locations.

But within our urban landscape too much prissy and protective rule making has choked the daylights out of development.   Read more »

Why is Auckland Council meddling with Residents & Ratepayers organisations?

A reader emails about Council meddling in Residents & Ratepayer organisations.

Hi Cam,

I live on Herald Island and was browsing through a local publication called the Causeway, a newsletter which we find in our mailboxes each month.

There is an item this month by the Herald Island residents and Ratepayers Association, which at first glance seems to be the usual run of the mill, local community stuff. But the highlighted paragraph in the attached copy of the article rang warning bells with me.

rr-herald Read more »

Get ready for massive rates increases

Rates increases are on the cards for Auckland residents.

Len Brown has said that they won’t be more than the rate of inflation, but the Council will undoubtedly use the recent valuations to further ratchet up the rates in coming years…massively.

Council valuations of Auckland homes have jumped by almost a third on average, new figures reveal.

Auckland Council will tomorrow release new valuations for more than 220 suburbs across the region for three-yearly review of CVs.

The figures will show properties in 10 areas have had an increase to their valuation of 50 per cent or more over the past 12 months; including Hobsonville which has jumped by a massive 65 per cent.

Just four areas have recorded reductions in their CVs; Manukau Heads, Kawau Island, Great Barrier Island and Rakino Island.

The new valuations will apply from next year and have an impact on rates for 2015.

Read more »

Dear Len…you suck, Regards Local Boards

Yay! more council money on toys for me

Yay! A letter from the local boards

This is an impressive achievement from Len Brown.

Not only did he manage to alienate the majority of voters with his extra-curricular activities, but now he has managed to sufficiently annoy ALL 21 local boards to the point where they have written him a Dear Len letter, which basically says he sucks as mayor.

All of Auckland’s 21 local boards have signed a stinging letter rebuking Mayor Len Brown over his leadership.

Matters have come to a head for local boards who feel “stifled” and “ignored” by Auckland Council, the letter says.

Under the mayor’s proposed Long Term Plan, boards have been expected to significantly cut operating budgets while community projects go on hold.

The letter pulls Brown up for not living up to his promises trumpeted in previous speeches while largely delivering “cuts in funding for local priorities”.

In one 2010 address, according to the letter, Brown said he presented “a vision of an inclusive and united Auckland … A city proud of local communities … and their place as part of a metropolitan powerhouse”.

He continued in the speech: “For our … communities to flourish, we will provide them with the parks and pools to be active, the libraries to learn, and the theatres and galleries to foster the creative talents of our artists and performers.”

Local board policies to foster Brown’s vision have for “the most part [been] ignored”, the 21 board chairs said.     Read more »

More talk about Auckland’s housing problems

Nick Smith, housing, environment, building and construction minister, vowed Resource Management Act reform. Deputy major Penny Hulse revealed plans for a new Auckland Development Agency, understood to be a merger of council-controlled Auckland Council Property and Waterfront Auckland. They would become one new more powerful urban transformational unit. But she said she did not want to reveal details before the announcement.

[NZIER principal economist] Mr Eaqub said foreigners were not responsible for driving up prices and at maximum, only 8 per cent of house sales were to non-residents. New Zealand investors and movers dominated new house purchases, he said citing CoreLogic data showing investors made up 45 per cent of house purchases, first-home buyers only 19 per cent and movers 28 per cent.

There are a lot of misconceptions of who are the active participants in our housing market,” he said.

These three form the ‘expert’ panel.  So far I’m underwhelmed.   Read more »