Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Local Groups Must Fundraise For Unitary Plan Submissions

Parnell Heritage and the Waitemata Local Board last night launched a new history of an Auckland icon: “Parnell Baths: A jewel in Auckland’s crown”. Authors Sue Monk and Dr Joanna Boileau spoke passionately about their project to a large crowd collected at Parnell Library on a cold, wet winter evening. At the end of the evening, Parnell Heritage Co-Chair Mary Barry encouraged everyone to spend the $20 to buy the book as all proceeds would go to Parnell Heritage and it was much in need of the funding to help it make submissions to the Independent Hearings Panel on the Unitary Plan. It is not alone.

A lot of local community groups have been appearing for several months now. These, almost exclusively unfunded, volunteers, are researching, presenting and listening to others. They are typically joined by a bevy of paid planners, lawyers and other experts representing clients – and also representing Auckland Council. I think it’s fine that people are using “experts” to help inform and improve their submissions because we want the best Unitary Plan we can get. But what about groups such as Parnell Heritage or Remuera Heritage or Save Our St Heliers or the wider Character Coalition? These groups have very well informed people who have been involved for long periods of time and know their areas well.

The issue is not just getting the funds to pay for experts, it is also accessing the people as so many are already doing work for other clients. If the Mayor was serious about getting the best Unitary Plan possible, he would have asked the council organisation to find a way around this problem.


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    2 comments on “Local Groups Must Fundraise For Unitary Plan Submissions

    1. Travon says:

      That’s a smart way of looknig at the world.

    2. Margaret King says:

      Thank you for airing this issue Mark. As a member of Save our St Heliers I can absolutely validate what you are saying. The reason groups feel the need to employ the professionals is partly the desire to do the best job possible in representing the community perspective, and partly because of the daunting nature of the IHP process. The enormous volume of documents and evidence, much of it presented in professional planner lingo, can be impenetrable. If anyone wants a taste of what is involved, head to Topic 029/030 on the IHP website, and take a look at the documents/evidence tab. Many of those documents are 80 pagers. You would need a full time staff of half a dozen people to make sense of it all, which is untenable for unfunded groups. That is just one topic. Level playing field…I think not.