July 2021 Member Report

General / assigned roles update

  • Transport portfolio:
    • The Light Rail engagement is proceeding and there was an initial discussion with a targeted group of residents on the 15th July. We have pushed for more events to take place within the Puketāpapa area and there will be multiple events taking place during August.
    • Last month I wrote that I was excited to see the wayfinding signage installed along the Southwestern Cycleway. This was achieved through Waka Kotahi’s “Fix it Fast Fund” which I raised with Auckland Transport in November. These signs allow for pedestrians, cyclists and mobility users to identify where this ‘spine’ of our Greenway network leads to. This program is being rolled out slowly along the network and I have attached a picture ot this report.
    • I logged a poorly repaired section of the newly opened Safer Communities project outside Mount Roskill Grammar School and was pleased to see this fixed in a relatively short space of time. There remain issues further along Frost Road and I have raised these again with Auckland Transport.
    • We received an initial proposal for some raised footpath works around Roskill South Shops which we will be discussing in the coming weeks before it goes out to public consultation.
    • As part of the Huia Watermain works, White Swan Road has been closed to traffic heading towards the city. This has required a detour for both the 68 and 25B bus routes. Member Shen passed on a resident’s concerns around the extremely long walk they now had, and Auckland Transport re-routed the 68 bus to reduce the walk and connect residents on Richardson Road with the bus service.
    • The final design for the Hillsborough Road/Commodore Drive roundabout has been circulated to the public and will be constructed in this financial year.
  • Manukau Harbour Forum:
    • The “Synthesis of State of the Environment Monitoring in the Manukau Harbour” report was published at the end of June. The report provides a reliable data set to refer to in our advocacy around improving the Harbour, based on data going back to 1965.

The report confirms that the Manukau has been degraded due to decades of human activity surrounding the Harbour. Massive deforestation over the course of human occupation, high levels of nitrates in the horticultural flatlands, high levels of sediment runoff in the Northern Harbour and along the Awhitu peninsula, high levels of zinc and copper runoff from roads in the catchment, high level of pest plants and animals, and degraded streams feeding into the Harbour all contribute to a degraded ecosystem.

The report shows that there have been improvements in water quality and air quality; however, these are primarily minor improvements, starting from a low level. Coastal water quality in the Harbour is the worst in Auckland, and I believe this should be reflected in the investment allocated by Governing Body. Thankfully, the Harbour has some great swimming spots which can be seen on https://www.safeswim.org.nz/ but there are also a high number of unswimmable beaches.

The report will be published yearly from here on, and we have asked that the next iteration include an analysis of fish stocks based on the data gathered by MPI.

The report outlines much of the work being done by the Council to improve the Harbour, and it has been heartening to see the support from Councillors to improve the Harbour. To ramp up addressing the issues around the Harbour will require investment from Central Government, with potential regulatory changes needed down the line. I would like to see a stocktake of the volunteer work being done around the Harbour, although it would probably double the size of the report!

There is a need for a restoration plan for the Harbour’s ecosystem, one developed in partnership with mana whenua and looking at all of the avenues we can take to rehabilitate the ecosystem, including looking at how we manage contaminants entering the catchment on land.

  • We had an update from Sophia Olo-Whaanoa and Kowhai Olsen from Makaurau Marae on the excellent work they have done around the Oruarangi Creek and the Harbour itself.
    • We finalised the budget for the next financial year, with confirmation of funding for our co-ordinator, a comms plan, mana whenua hui and the youth sustainability wananga that has been very successful.

Meetings / events attended

  • 1st July – Puketāpapa Local Board workshop.
  • 1st July  – Community Forum at Lynfield Community Centre hosted by the Puketāpapa Youth Foundation
  • 2nd July – Manukau Harbour Forum Workshop and Business Meeting
  • 3rd July – Puketāpapa Youth Foundation intergenerational planting day at Lynfield Reserve.
  • 3rd July – Puketāpapa Business Voice Launch
  • 6th July – Spoke to Technology Students at Mount Roskill Grammar School about their designs for water monitoring in Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek.
  • 7th July – Meeting with staff from Community Facilities and Chair Fairey
  • 7th July – Meeting with Local Board advisors and Chair Fairey
  • 8th July – Puketāpapa Local Board workshop.
  • 8th July – Puketāpapa Community Network.
  • 12th July – Puketāpapa Local Board Agenda run-through (via SKYPE.)
  • 13th July – meeting with new strategic broker and Chair Fairey.
  • 14th July – Meeting with Chair Fairey and Local Board Staff.
  • 14th July  –  Meeting with Local Area Manager, Chair Fairey and Local Board Advisors.
  • 15th July – Puketāpapa Local Board business meeting.
  • 15th July – Puketāpapa Local Board workshop.
  • 15th July – Light rail listening session at Wesley Community Centre.
  • 24th July – Tupuna Maunga Authority planting on Puketāpapa. Over 2000 plants planted on the side of the maunga.
  • 28th July – Meeting with Chair Fairey and Local Board Staff.
  • 28th July  –  Meeting with Local Area Manager, Chair Fairey and Local Board Advisors.
  • 29th July- Puketāpapa Local Board workshop.
  • 29th July – Integrated Area Plan working group with mana whenua representatives.
  • 30th July – Auckland Transport Innovating Streets discussion with members of the Central cluster of Local Boards.

Disclosures

  • I am working with Friends of Wairaki stream in an admin role and will excuse myself from any decision making relating to this group.
  • I am a volunteer run director at Owairaka parkrun and organised the 17th July event and volunteered at the 3rd, 10th and 24th July events.

Recommendation

That this report be received.

Note: if other recommendations are proposed they may be subject to a Notice of Motion (refer to Standing Orders or Appendix 1 pg. 5-6 in the guidance document).

OK – what do you do?

The LGNZ guide for candidates says that “Local Board members spent on average 20 hours a week” in their role as a member. Interestingly, some people seem to think they can still hold a full time role as well as doing their duties as an elected member. In this post I will go over some of the things a member can be expected to do in a week.

Note – this was written in February 2020 – before everything changed! It still mostly holds true for Board members, with the addition of far more Skype calls now. My role as Deputy Chair has an extra layer of complexity and time added to the below.

The Workshop

This is the ‘bread and butter’ of the life of a Local Board member. Here is where we are given guidance by staff, presentations by entities who want to do things in our area, hear from CCO’s, decide on budgets and work programmes, come to a consensus and many other things.

Our board has a full day – from 930 till 5 of presentations and discussions, with a break in the middle. Over those 7 and a half hours we could have up to 9 presentations, ranging from half hour to multi-hour discussions. Board members need to be paying attention, asking good questions and showing that they are well prepared. Which leads me to my next item…

Reading

It is painfully obvious when a member hasn’t read ahead before the meeting. Often questions will be asked that are answered on the next slide, or assumptions based on past understandings can get in the way. Ideally we are provided with the necessary information at the beginning of the week, giving us time to go through everything. Auckland Council has an in-house application which allows for notetaking on the documents, making it really easy to bring up questions as they come up during the presentation. The documents can range from a 7 slide presentation, to a 100+ page document with various appendixes. Thankfully these usually include a very helpful summary of the info, and a scan and skim is usually sufficient to get up to speed with what we are being presented with.

There are also numerous reports produced by council that provide a lot of indepth background knowledge to what we are discussing. Examples of these are the council governance review, development contributions policy and all of the reports on the councils Knowledge Auckland website.

I’d say members do at least 3 hours of reading a week – sometimes more, sometimes less.

There is also the business meeting Agenda which is published once a month. Examples of these can be found here. This segues nicely into the next element of our role:

The business meeting

These take place once a month and effectively ‘make official’ the decisions we have made over the past month during workshops. Ideally most of this is ‘rubber stamping’ issues, but controversial ones will often take longer to get through. There is also space for a ‘public forum’, where members of the public can present to the Local Board about important issues they have, or to speak in support or against items on the agenda. These are formal affairs with a smart dress code and sense of ceremony. These can range in time from an hour to three or more hours long, and with our agenda run through added on, average out to an hour a week.

Community events

The ‘fun’ part of being a Local Board member. We are constantly being invited to great community events and often have to plan our weekends and nights around these. We could be at an event celebrating India’s independence, a movie in the park, sports events, tree planting… the list goes on. It felt a bit ‘weird’ going to one of these events and being treated as a “VIP”, gifted with flowers and fed first, but it also reiterates how important our role is to the community.

These events can take up a lot of time – in an ‘average’ week we probably spend 6 hours on these events, not including travel time.

Engagement events

The Local Board develops a 3 year Local Board plan, and it is really important we get community feedforward and feedback about it. We come up with a ‘draft’ plan and take it out to the community to get their ideas. For this we put on community forums – these actually happen throughout the term, once a month at varying venues. An excellent way to hear from the public, but still in need of more publicising. We also get out into schools, retirement villages and other groups to ensure we are getting a wide range of viewpoints. 

On average, probably two hours spent on engagement a week.

Professional Development

This term the council has a very good induction programme, Kura Kāwana. This consists of a number of different ‘sections’ that all help to build us to be ‘good governors.’ Topics range from Te Tiriti, to legal overviews, standing orders, quality advice and more. Scheduled on the weekdays, these also take up a portion of our time but are very well worth it. Being on a local board isn’t something that other jobs can necessarily ‘prepare’ you for – there are skills that other professions bring to the job for sure, but the importance of these development sessions cannot be underestimated. 

Emails

A slightly less fun part of the job is dealing with the avalanche of emails that come cascading into our inbox. Requests for meetings, ideas, conversations, clarifications, organisation, civil defense warnings…. On average we probably get around 20 emails a day, taking around 3 hours total a week to deal with.

Other meetings

Each local board member will have a different load here, depending on their interest and assigned roles. This term I am the Transport secondary, meaning we have a meeting with AT once a month, separate from our workshop and business meetings. For this, we have a very long list of issues that we go through with our AT liason, in an effort to ensure they don’t get lost in the system. Time will tell whether this works – so far so good!I am also on the Manukau Harbour Forum, which meets monthly and discusses a wide range of issues to do with the harbour – which has suffered from decades of neglect. This engenders an extra amount of reading and researching, as well as thought and discussion.

Across the year, we probably spend an average of two hours a week on development and other meetings.

Constituent issues

This is another favourite part of the job for me. People have lots of ideas about how we can make Puketāpapa better, and it is always really interesting to hear about them. Also, people also have lots of ideas about how Puketāpapa is being run badly – and these are usually pretty interesting as well!

We get to hear about these issues through a variety of ways – email, facebook, phonecalls, and most importantly kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face.) Sometimes this involves a casual chat at a cafe, other times I will go visit them at the place of concern.

We then have to actually deal with these issues – by contacting the right officer, logging the issue, bringing it up for discussion across the wider board.

Let’s say at least an hour a week is spent on issues.

And that’s just in the first 3 months!

I have no doubt I will find more work coming in over the years to come. An important thing to realise is that most of this stuff isn’t something you can regularly plan for – meetings come up on odd days, development days occur at different times, and everything is scattered across lots of different places. Thankfully I have an e-bike to get around!

There is also the constant feel of being on-the-job when out and about in the local area. When I see an area with too many weeds, I take a photo and log it. Maybe there’s a missing road sign – take a picture and log it. It’s the equivalent of being ‘that guy’ at parties – everytime I go out for a walk, run or a bike ride I’m looking out for something that needs fixing. 

Questions about what we do? Feel free to leave a comment or email me on email@jonturner.nz

How do Local Boards work?

If I had to choose a question, this is the one that pops up most often. Its understandable – first of all, a lot of people don’t even know what a Local Board is, let alone what a Local Board does.

The first step is understanding how Council works. Unfortunately, that’s something that a mere blog can’t explain – there’s a reason we have a very long induction process. The picture below shows the basic ‘makeup’ of Council:

Shared Governance

The council has two decision-making parts – a governing body which is made up of the mayor and 20 councillors, and 21 local boards made up of 149 members.

The governing body focuses on issues, decisions and strategies affecting the whole region while local boards represent their communities and make decisions on local issues.

These two ‘parts’ make decisions which, ideally, are then implented by the “council organisation.” The council organisation itself is massive – considering Auckland Council represents over 1.5 million people this is understandable.

The “organisation” is split up into a whole lot of different sectors that report individually to the Local Board.

Community Facilities: In charge of looking after our Parks, beaches and community assets such as halls and sportsfields. We see these guys a lot as this is an area where we can have a lot of say.

Parks, Sports and Recreation: Confusingly, this team is also involved in park stuff – but they are in charge of planning for the future as opposed to the day-to-day maintenance that CF look after.

Arts, Community and Events: This team is hugely relevant to local boards. They focus on engagement and empowerment of the community and provide a ‘human’ face to Council. We also see them often.

These are the ‘main three’ that we see most often at the Local Board. They report regularly, giving us updates about what is going on in our area.

The other sectors are: Infrastructure and environment services – they look after infrastructure (e.g stormwater, waste services). Plans and Places – in charge of ‘long-term’ thinking as to the future of Tāmaki Makaurau Service, Strategy and Integration – I kind of have no idea what these guys do. Apparently they are in charge of customer service? Libraries – Kind of obvious, quite good that this is a ‘seperate’ unit from the others.

There are also “council-controlled organisations,” which many people have heard of and know that the name doesn’t quite represent the truth. They operate at “arms length” from the Council – reporting back on what they do but not taking direction from decision makers. These include (but aren’t limited to: AT, ATEED, Watercare etc

In our Local Board office, we have some staff who work just on our local board:

Local Board Services – This team looks after … pretty much everything. They ensure our questions get to the right people, organise our workshops, ensure we are meeting deadlines, have huge amounts of local knowledge and can find out the answer to any question. They also attend all meetings and workshops, even after hours.

Democracy Advisor – In charge of looking after the correct processes in meetings, as well as ensuring all decisions are supported and followed up on by the correct staff. Prepares all our documents for business meetings and workshops, takes notes, does lots of stuff behind the scenes.

Admin Staff – Looks after reception, emails, organising members, logging issues, booking rooms, helping visitors.

We also share staff with other local boards:

A Relationship Advisor who is – for want of a better word- the ‘manager’ of the team of staff who help us. officially they “lead the political and strategic guidance provided to the Local Board Members. This involves both developing strategic advice and tailoring advice to meet the requirements of the Local Boards.”

A strategic broker – in charge of community empowerment, plan and deliver activities based on the need in communities

An Engagement Advisor in charge of engagement with the community, helping to establish our plans and ensure they meet the community’s needs, overseeing relationships with mana whenua. Often working after hours making sure our community events work smoothly

Communications advisor– in charge of social media channels, Our Auckland magazine and ensuring emergency messages get to the community.


So. That is a super quick overview of how Local Boards work – there is so much more detail I could go into but hopefully that’s enough for now – as I haven’t really started to talk about what we do!


Healthy Puketāpapa

Note: This is a repost from my facebook page.

Today I thought I’d delve into some of the info from the “Healthy Puketāpapa Strategic Framework” – a 37 page document that is full of really interesting information as well as a quick runthrough of the plan itself.

Healthy Puketāpapa is a guide that sets out to improve the quality of life for our Puketāpapa residents.

It contains some sobering facts about Puketāpapa – 20% of Puketāpapa homes are overcrowded, 41% of our neighborhoods are classed as the ‘most deprived in the country’, our residents make up 10% of ED admissions due to alcohol, despite making up only 4% of the population, 36% of tamariki live in poverty and Puketāpapa gets a score of 37/100 for walkability due to our street network lacking connectivity and a lack of local services within a walkable distance – putting us as one of the ‘lowest’ Local Boards in Tāmaki Makarau.

Some of these issues are beyond a local board’s control. However, the last board saw the importance of building a guide towards creating a healthy Puketāpapa.

As such, the document sets out 5 ‘priority areas’ for health and wellbeing in Puketāpapa and actions the local board can take:

1) Wai (water) is the first and easiest choice of drink.

-Install new water fountains across Puketāpapa.
-Introduce free water bottle refill stations across Puketāpapa.
-Promote water first at all our events and facilities.
-Promote tap water as our first choice of beverage.
-Gather cultural stories of wai (water).
-Instead of promoting sugary drinks marketing, promote water at places where tamariki and whānau meet.
-Reduce plastic straw use in Puketāpapa.
-Connect wai projects to other Healthy Puketāpapa projects.

2)Access to healthy kai for all.
-Encourage early childhood centres, schools and businesses to promote healthy options
-Encourage food recycling and zero waste activities
-Remove junk food marketing near tamariki settings
-Work with partners to promote initiatives to create eco-neighbourhoods
-Promote healthy kai choices in all our organisations, events and facilities

3)Encourage movement.
-Create more greenways and cycleways throughout Puketāpapa.
-Promote and develop public transport in Puketāpapa.
-Ensure all park developments meet community needs.
-Promote the connections between nature, physical activity and mental wellbeing.
-Connect residents to Puketāpapa’s whenua/land and maunga/mountains to build pride and sense of belonging.
-Promote physical activity at activities, events and in all local grants.
-Connect residents to inter-generational opportunities to get moving that cater for our diverse community.

4)Improving access to healthy housing.

-Promote Healthy Homes Standards.
-Support healthy rental homes and higher quality social housing.
-Support actions to create sustainable homes.
-Create social cohesion projects that support communities in new housing areas.
-Engage business partners, housing developers, schools and the community to create community centred housing.
-Get Puketāpapa residents to define what is a healthy home to influence future actions.

5)Less use of unhealthy substances.
-Get Puketāpapa communities to define the issues, priorities and solutions for alcohol, tobacco and drug harm reduction.
-Promote alcohol-free, tobacco-free and drug-free Puketāpapa activities and events.
-Use community advocacy to push for no more bottle stores in Puketāpapa.
-Reduce alcohol sponsorship and advertising in Puketāpapa.
-Introduce Smokefree Puketāpapa town centres and parks.
-Use community engagement and cohesion projects to build inclusion and celebrate diversity.