Format Hero

I have read the summary version of the Auckland plan, and only glanced through the full version.

I think this is a good plan. I particularly support the “five values” listed in paragraph 9.

I think that the language of the plan has too much of the PR hype about it. The word “innovative” is particularly overused. It has become a buzzword which we attach to anything we want to appear cutting-edge or ahead of its time. The summary version of the plan makes much of the idea of innovation but what does it mean? Creative New Zealand has a definition in it’s funding guide:

Innovation: involves the creation of value out of new ideas, products, arts experiences, services, or ways of doing things. An ‘innovative’ arts practitioner will understand the skills and techniques required by their area of arts practice, but will not rely on established ideas, forms or ways of working. They will be actively investigating new ways of working and will be taking artistic risks. Actual innovation will depend on context (when and where the project is to happen). It may exist in the form of the work, the process of creating the work, the way the work is presented, the ways the work engages with its audience, or the way in which skills and techniques are passed on.

The directive to be innovative takes a lot more than just labelling something with the word.

I think the plan makes a poor choice of titles given to the three areas given as spatial priorities in paragraph 17. The two “Opportunity Areas” are regions that already have established, historical, meaningful names. Given that the plan lists (in paragraph 10) “inclusive and safe communities, based on strong local identity …” (my italics) as one of the key things we need to get right, and given that an area’s name is integral to its identity, particularly for the people who live there, but also to the wider Auckland population – to rename these areas with what amounts to a PR branding exercise is a bad start.

The “International City Centre and fringe” is the City Centre and fringe – or just the City and Fringe. Prefixing it with “international” does not make it so. Maybe once we’ve clearly earned the label …

The Southern Opportunity Area is Manukau.

The North Western Opportunity Area is Waitakere-Albany.

I also think that some of the opportunities don’t seem to have an obvious relevance to the area they’re listed under. For example, why does “Waitakere-Albany” have the potential to “become a model of new ways of undertaking public-private partnerships to improve housing supply options and build strong communities” more than any other area? I acknowledge that this could simply be the nature of a summary document.

I very much agree that we should all be regarded as guardians of our young people. How that culture can be encouraged is a big question. Does the plan suggest that this happens on a personal, day to day level? It would take a big re-education campaign to alter the catchphrase from “stranger-danger” to “stranger-safety.”

Yes, the role of schools should be widened as described. The first step is to find schools where it’s already happening. I suspect that it’s being practised right now, in different ways, by schools all over Auckland. It may simply be a case of finding the most successful examples and combining these into a model that all schools can adapt and build on.

Perhaps this would solve the “stranger-danger” problem I mentioned above. In the ideal community there would be no strangers.

Auckland’s becoming an eco-city would require a radical shift in the population’s thinking.

Some ideas:
Design non-intrusive rainwater tanks which can be used in city apartments and suburban houses alike. Publicise the savings in water costs. Subsidise the installation of the tanks. Design useful systems to re-use gray water. Educate people as to what this actually means, and the good it will do.

Change the basic paradigms in our thinking.

e.g. How much are Auckland’s energy needs going to increase by 2040? What id we declare that there will be no increase in the supply or generation of energy for Auckland. Instead, the funding will be devoted to designing low-energy appliances. (A major problem here is that the money which may have been destined for developing new sources of energy will go somewhere else.)

The Council should support a compact city model which protects rural areas from urban sprawl.

The Waitakere Ranges and foothills must be protected from urban development.

Public passenger transport is a priority.

This could be quantified by for example, devising a system whereby in the City Centre a passenger can board public transport within a kilometre from their starting point, and disembark within a kilometre of their destination. (The kilometre is just an example)

In the City Fringe it could be, say, two kilometres, in the suburbs, three, and in rural areas, five kilometres.

The Council should consider transport hubs similar to that at New Lynn – maybe smaller – rather than all bus routes spiderwebbing out from the central city. Buses from the central city transport centre should go to small regional “hubs” from which buses depart for even smaller local hubs, from which buses have the local area covered to within one or two kilometres. This distance may be unrealistic, but it gives a quantity to aim for.

Over all, I like the plan, and I look forward to discussing it more in August.