The ﬁrst I ever heard of the Auckland super-city proposal was in The New Zealand Herald, after a business trip. It was the main headline of the day. As I board the plane, I grabbed the newspaper.
The headline read something along the lines of, ‘We’re going to be a super-city’.
When I read the actual article, there was no such move mentioned. In fact, a commission had reported its ﬁndings, and the article did not conclude whether Auckland would or would not become a super-city, i.e. one where many of its individual councils would be amalgamated into one.
I wanted to blog this at the time but didn’t think it that vital. After all, it wasn’t as though I was running for mayor of Auckland. As a proud Wellingtonian, the item wasn’t top of my list.
As legislation has passed making way for the super-city, and with Māori groups deeply concerned about representation (given the Treaty of Waitangi’s provisions I can fully see why), it does seem there are a few things that need to be ironed out.
I remain sceptical. Some feel the amalgamation would make the city less accountable to ratepayers. Some feel that it’s an excuse to sell of Auckland’s assets to foreigners, continuing policies that have not enhanced New Zealand’s industry or society.
Nearly a year since the Herald article, I am only slightly better informed, but what concerned me was that ﬁrst piece I read.
It is nearly never good news if a foreign-owned newspaper reports something as a fait accompli in its headline when the article below it offers nothing to support those words.
Which made me wonder: what agenda does an Irish–Australian newspaper have in this whole thing?
If you begin looking at it from that point of view, it gives a little bit more, albeit not much, suspicion to those people who have their doubts about the technocrats.
Apart from the hikoi and the dull, everyday minutiæ of passing legislation (the latter being something few of us would care about), the negatives have not really been reﬂected in the media. Māori were painted as undemocratic by the mainstream media, somehow offending PM John Key’s idea of one person, one vote, when the real fact is that the Treaty of Waitangi makes certain guarantees over joint sovereignty.
That issue, I know, opens up another can of worms, which was not the point of this post. But frankly, I don’t think the Māori view, one that concerns all of us, has been fairly represented in the reports I have encountered.
So we know from the media alone that foreign interests want this super-city to go ahead. We know that some local interests do not. And we know the rest of us have a big question mark over what the heck the PM and the ACT Party’s Rodney Hide are on about, because we don’t live in Auckland.
Now we have the Hon Peter Dunne MP, one of Parliament’s more intelligent members, suggesting Wellington should consider doing something similar.
I might agree if the motives are to create a city that would be a rival to Auckland and attract investment and jobs.
Mr Dunne’s stated belief is that having amalgamated councils which had been competing, rather than cooperating, would make sense. In that sense, I agree with him.
As long as Wellington is not put on the block and the resulting council provides the same, if not better, representation for its citizens.
Nevertheless, Auckland still gives me some cause for concern. Granted, I am grasping at the tiniest straw here in creating my suspicion. But that straw was in a very large Miller typeface as the Herald’s lead story that day, and on this occasion, I do not think it was sloppy editing that saw such a gulf between headline and copy. Not for the biggest story of the day. There was something more to it. And we should be vigilant, certainly more than I have been, about our biggest city’s affairs. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:17
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