Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

You Get Community Ownership If You Let The Community Own It

At the start of 2014, Len Brown set out six priorities (to get Auckland moving). Perhaps thinking of the significant work needed to prepare the draft Long Term Plan, number 4 on the list was: Create a sense of community ownership. He said: “There was a lot to do in the first three years of Auckland’s amalgamation. And in some cases we moved forward without taking our communities with us”.

He went to say: “We need to do a lot better. We need the community to feel they have ownership in all of the major decisions we make as a council. This year, I want us to look at new ways of linking in with the people who understand their communities the best. This should include more innovative use of online tools, but it certainly means a return to the basics of grass roots engagement – which is all about talking to people on their terms not ours.”

That was last year’s goal. Did you enjoy the online tools?… Wasn’t the grass roots engagement exhausting!…

18 months on following a “Consensus Building” process on transport funding, the city’s largest direct engagement with the 10-year LTP and numerous “Shape Auckland” consultations the communities sense of ownership of “all the major decisions” will be at an all time low. 80% wanted less than a 3.5% rates increase, we got 9.9%. 34-47% wanted some form of motorway charge, we got a transport rate. Community engagement can be hard work. But it’s even harder when you’re not genuinely prepared to listen, change as needed and then deliver. Within the Orakei local board, and others, we have this engagement at the core of what we do. That’s a key reason why we regularly get the highest engagement of any local board. They engage because they know it’s worth it.


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