Auckland Council

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 »

Weedkiller runoff into Auckland’s water supply is bad, but 1080 poison is perfectly alright

The other day Maggie Barry gobbed off about 1080 being dumped all over the water catchment areas for Auckland in the Hunua Ranges.

She thought it was perfectly alright to dump poison into our water system.

Now we find out that the Council has been dumping weed killer intot he water and that the water has been essentially quarantined.

Two dams in the Hunua Ranges which supply about 20 per cent of Auckland’s water were closed for four months this year after traces of a toxic herbicide applied to nearby forestry blocks got into the dams’ supply lakes.

Last night, Watercare Services said there was no risk to public health.

Auckland Council was told of the incident, but both the council and Watercare Services kept it quiet from the public until a whistleblower contacted the Herald yesterday.

Watercare communications manager John Redwood said the public were not notified because “we were confident there was no risk of water from the lakes being drawn into the supply network at any time”.

After a forestry block on council land in the Cosseys, Wairoa and Mangatawhiri dam catchments was sprayed on May 12, Watercare detected traces of the herbicide metsulfuron-methyl in the Cosseys and Wairoa lakes.

Metsulfuron-methyl is a residual toxic herbicide used to kill broadleaf weeds and some annual grasses.

Watercare said the likely cause was run-off from surrounding blocks as a result of unexpected heavy rain two days after spraying. GPS tracking by helicopter confirmed spray was not applied to the lake areas.

Read more »

Woodburner police for Auckland?

It looks increasingly like Len Brown’s army of brown shirts with clipboards is about to get bigger, this time with the creation of the Woodburner Police.

The Environment Ministry has fixed its death stare on Auckland and a ban on domestic open fireplaces and old wood burners affecting 85,000 homes looms.

A report in the New Zealand Herald yesterday, or should I say a press release from the Auckland Council reproduced in the Herald, breathlessly asserts that 75 per cent of Auckland’s winter air pollution is due to fine particle emissions (PM10) from open fires and non- compliant wood burners.

Noting that motor vehicles account for 18 per cent of pollution, and industry 7 per cent, “the burning of coal and wood during winter raised the level of PM10 inhaled and lodged in lungs, and that 110 adults died prematurely every year due to emissions from indoor fires.

Hang on, did it say “110 adults died prematurely every year due to emissions from indoor fires”?

I checked this out last year by sending in a request to the Minister of Health under the Official Information Act seeking all advice received on PM10 from fires and woodburners along with full details of the numbers of respiratory illness deaths resulting from PM10.

The reply was that the Health Ministry cannot identify whether a death was caused by exposure to PM10. There is no evidence of any death whatsoever resulting from PM10 in New Zealand at any time.   Read more »

Chuck her out on the street

It is accepted that, although reluctantly, we must pay our rates and our taxes.

We have elected governments, local and national, to administer our affairs and they levy taxes in order to do that.

Reasonable people comply, pay their rates and contribute to the cleaning of our streets, removal of sewerage and waste water, rubbish collection and a multitude of other services.

It could be argued that some of those services provided by the city are silly or out of step, but until we get ourselves a fiscally conservative council then we must pay the rates that are levied. That is what contributing citizens do.

Penny Bright is the exact opposite of that. She refuses to pay her rates, and as a consequence her home is now forfeit. The council is now moving to sell her property. Personally I would have cut off the services that she refuses to pay for, including the power which has to run through city streets to get to her house.

But not to worry, she has David “tainted” Fisher on her side.

It’s a settler-style, four-bedroom house with wooden rafters and north-facing decks which might soon be up for sale and in the overheated Auckland property market, it’s likely to excite bids well over $800,000.

However, it will come with a catch – one extremely unhappy owner who is refusing to be dragged out of her home.

Welcome to the base of activist Penny Bright, 60, a one-woman rates revolution who owes Auckland Council and its ratepayers $33,288.  Read more »

Guest post from a Developer

A developer and reader of the site sends in this contribution


The recent debate about housing affordability and finger pointing at Local Government has rekindled my passionate dislike of Local Government to write this plea and call for action from readers.

For nearly 20 years I have been a practitioner within the property industry and watched with increasing loathe at how the bureaucratic machine of local government has become an excessively painful and obstructive road block to anything and everything.

Now that there is potential for the Government to put the boot in and reform law, it does appear timely to raise ire at the gross incompetence of these organisations. Local Government must be reformed radically if anything good is to come of it. Telling they story is now the biggest and most important duty upon us all, so that the Government can more succinctly understand the issues, and can act with justification to impose the level of change that we so desperately need.

It is time to start documenting the issues, and what they actually cost us all in time, inefficiency, interest and variations. I urge readers to do so, and write to ministers summarising the issues and recommending what changes need to occur. How long did it really take to process your consent? What changes did Council impose on your design and at what cost? How much interest did you burn up holding your property whilst you were mucked about? Did Council trolls persist with unreasonable demands, act unlawfully, stone wall you, cast judgement on the merits of your proposal or make you do things that didn’t seem right? Well now is the time to raise the flag of discontent and send your email to the ministers seeking change by telling the story of what you experienced and what it cost you in time and money. The justification to Government reform of law will be the practical examples of how New Zealanders are stymied by the infidel of local government.   Read more »

A reader’s email about housing in Auckland

Yesterday we posted about housing prices and who was to blame for the situation, especially in Auckland.

It prompted this email from a  reader:


Dear Cam

Re: Minimum wage, how about a minimum house price

This whole discussion about housing in Auckland aggravates me because it’s not just the RMA, or the availability of land that is ramping up the price of existing homes and discouraging development. It’s more the power of the mafia council and its ability to squeeze every last drop out of homebuilders that is the big issue.

The ‘new streamlined’ Auckland Council is actually more of a bureaucracy with a capital ‘B’ than its composites, irrespective of the duplication of tasks. It’s a heaving, monolithic, Stalinist leviathan, long since irrelevant in the post-colonial era but with the statutory authority to dictate what use you may put your land to and to gouge you for the privilege.

Try just getting their consent to build a house. We did in 2012, on 3200 square metres of bush in Titirangi, Auckland. We selfishly thought we might (gasp) construct a home for our family there but the thought that someone might purchase a section for such a nefarious purpose was obviously something the West Auckland chapter of the Auckland Council Mafia was prepared for.

We were barely owners of the property for a day before the council weed-fascist was onto us. We had a ginger infestation that needed taking care of immediately or we’d be put in stocks and/or executed. We did the environmentally-friendly thing and approached the Waitakere Weedfree Trust. The guy there sold us a plastic tub and told us to dig out the ginger and put the bulbs in it to rot. A day later, and barely one percent of the ginger removed, I hit the local hardware store and bought the most toxic weedkiller I could find. Six months later, it was all still alive and the council guy was threatening court action.

In the interim, we hired an architect and got him planning our dream home. He prepared a resource consent submission, which we took to lodge at the Henderson office. The architect had warned me that there may now be a charge for the pre-lodgement meeting. What he’d heard anecdotally, and no one since has been able to verify this for me to a legal standard, is that since the formation of the ‘Super City’, whichever ex-composite council charged the most for any particular service was now the going rate for all. What was once free in Waitakere now cost $200.

First shock. A development levy would apply upon the successful lodgement of our consent. Approximately $10,000. I pointed out that our property was within an enclave of seven properties, six of which had been built on many years ago, but not ours. All utilities were already on site: water, power, phone, storm-water and sewage. Nothing needed to be provided, we merely needed to tap in to the pre-existing infrastructure which we had paid for as part of the purchase price. No matter. The levy was for other things, added pressure on the local libraries and such. I thought about saying I had a Kindle but doubted that would have gone down well.   Read more »