Piha Opinion

Behind closed doors . . .

3 Comments 11 February 2015

Closeddoor01aWhat’s that secret you’re keeping

You might think democracy in New Zealand looks like this:

  • NZ Government > Auckland Council > Local Board > You and Me

Not so  . . .  there are layers you probably do not even know about and it looks like this:

  • NZ Government > Auckland Council > Local Board > Combined Waitakere Residents & Ratepayers Group > Piha Residents & Ratepayers Group> You and Me

The combined Waitakere Residents & Ratepayers Group meets bi-monthly.

  • NONE of us can attend – it is a closed meeting.
  • There are no published minutes.
  • ONLY committee members of Residents & Ratepayers Groups can attend and ONLY 2 from each R&R can speak.
  • Oh, wait a minute …  there is ONE exception! The Chair of this group is Kubi Witten-Hannah, of Karekare,  who is not an elected member of any R&R but he Chairs (controls) the entire meeting.
  • Not all Waitakere groups attend but ‘they’ still call themselves the Combined Waitakere R&R Group
  • Elected representatives are invited eg: Local Board members and Ward Councillors –
  • I’ve not heard of Ward councillors attending (Hulse & Cooper) but Local Board Members regularly attend and if not give their apologies.

What do they talk about ?  (Good question!)

  • Water Quality and Waste water
    • Onsite waste water disposal and local water agenda groups
    • Wastewater charging
  • WRHA (Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area) issues
    • Welcome to the WRHA signs
    • Foothills walkway
    • Auckland Transport design guide for WRHA
  • Plans
    • Unitary Plan
    • WRLB Plan
    • Visitor Management Strategy
    • West Coast Plan
    • Signs bylaw review
  • Kauri Dieback
    • Scrubbing station compliance survey feedback
    • Council budget
  • Glen Eden revitalisation

BIG Agenda eh!  Not even the Local Board Agendas are this big.  They talk about everything and anything.

Who attends this Combined R&R Group?  (How many do you know?)

  • Chair – Kubi Witten-Hannah (not on any R&R)
  • John Edgar – Karekare R&R plus  Chair Protect Waitakere Ranges Society
  • Mels Barton – Titirangi.
  • Jennifer Conlon – Titirangi
  • Ken Cowan – Piha
  • Helen Pearce – Piha
  • Graham Cleghorn – Piha
  • Susie Vincent – Laingholm
  • Ron Watson – Henderson Valley
  • Gary Henderson – Oratia
  • Peter Casey – Waiatarua
  • Jo Quatermass – Huia Cornwallis
  • Glen McConnall – Huia Cornwallis
  • Sandra Coney – Local Board Chair
  • Greg Presland – Local Board & Titirangi R&R
  • Denise Yates – Local Board & Huia Cornwallis R&R
  • Saffron Toms – Local Board

PihaRRAGM2015Photo: click to see large one.  Piha R&R AGM 2015.  Two in the photo aren’t members – they’re on the Local Board and the speaker is from EcoMatters.

If you ask anyone on the Local Board about this, as I have, they will tell you that it’s perfectly Okay for the Board to meet with any group – and I agree.

What I don’t agree with is that they have meetings with people who claim to represent us and have a large influence on the Local Board and insist that their ‘say’ and submissions should carry huge weight.  Not sure about you but the Piha R&R and definitely the Combined Group sure as hell don’t represent me !

I would like:

  • The Minutes of these meetings be made public and
  • How many members each R&R group have (audited)

Your Comments

3 Comments so far

  1. PS1 says:

    Hi Bobbie, Interesting topic and hillarious photo. Can I request a few changes please. I am rep for Oratia (Penny) Gary is no longer our President and so that second space is TBA . No one from Oratia attended the last meeting. Possible improvements to the democratic process could include: I agree the minutes should be open. I agree that workshops with the board and council should be open to any member of the public who want to attend. There is not a representative group from Glen Eden. I think we need more disclosure regarding representatives with conflicts of interest, including family members and trustees of some of our largest subcontracting organisations for the Waitakere Ranges Board budgets, and political associates. While it is useful to have a keen group of people regularly following and interested in the political process there are some democratic issues.

  2. Village Voice Editor says:

    I forgot to mention, also, that not even members of the Piha R&R can attend their monthly meetings. All, except Committee and ‘elected representatives’ [read Sandra Coney] must leave after Open Forum. Then this closed group goes on to attend the ‘closed’ Waitakere Combined R&R Group.

  3. J Sturric says:

    How do they get away with this ……. ??? I assume they’re “dirty lens” mates then


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