Mike Lee ‘maiden speech’ to first meeting of Auckland Council

Rau rangatira ma – kua tae mai nei I te te kaupapa o te ra – te kotahitanga o Tamaki makau rau.  Tena koutou katoa.

 Mr Mayor, Members of the Governing body, ladies and gentlemen, greetings and to you all and once again congratulations.

 Congratulations also to the CEO Mr Mckay and to the organisers of the magnificent inauguration ceremony in the town hall last evening. Thanks also to the Prime Minister, government ministers, mana whenua, local board members our fellow elected members of the Auckland Council, former local government members, present and former council staff, and the hundreds of interested and caring Auckland citizens who attended and who contributed to that historic event.

Most of all congratulations to you Mr Mayor for the magnificent speech.  perfectly pitched and inspirational.  The capstone of a wonderful evening.

The Auckland Council has been formally launched – and it could not have begun in more auspicious circumstances.  It was an historic day for Auckland, a great night for Aucklanders and a new beginning for us all.

The people of Auckland, now united, look to the future with very high hopes.

 But before we resolutely march off into that future – it is appropriate to look back, for one last time.   To look back and to reflect on the fact that in creating such a powerful, united organisation – the Auckland Council – 8 other organisations, the 4 city councils, the 3 district councils and the Auckland regional council, had to die.

That did not happen easily, nor did it happen without a human cost.  A cost to many of the people who worked for those councils – as permanent staff or as elected office holders. 

I want to pay my respects to those councils and the men and women who dedicated their lives and careers to them.  All of the Councils in their own different ways left a legacy of good for Auckland and it is fitting and indeed remarkable that every one of the 8 former councils has a former elected member of that council here today as a member of the new governing body of the united Auckland Council.

I am well aware that at various stages over the last 18 months or so all of the councils, their professional staff, their councillors and their mayors have been through what only can be described as a form of grieving.

I think that the ARC’s grieving came quite late in the piece.  The finality of it all especially hit home for us only during our final farewell ceremonies which were held over the last couple of weeks.  And I must say I very much shared this sense of sadness.  Goodbye is the saddest word.

 There was a certain amount of irony in this because it was the ARC itself –  with me as its leader – which quite forcefully articulated and argued for the unitary structure that we now have today -and it was my council which voted for its own abolition.  It was essentially the model proposed by the ARC which formed the basis of the Royal Commission’s findings.   Those findings were taken up by the government and refined to something even closer to the original ARC proposal. 

That proposal of course was for the unification of greater Auckland into one organisation (which we called the ‘Greater Auckland Council’).  An organisation containing two tiers – one tier (now called the Governing Body) to deal with the larger, more regional issues and a second tier, the Local Boards (which we called the ‘community councils’) the job of which was to restore the ‘local’ to Auckland local government. 

It’s a model we called ‘the One and the Many’.  And the ‘One and the Many’ is what we now have.

So when some of the ARC senior managers came, one by one, to say goodbye to me late last week and three of them broke down and cried – this all weighed very much on my mind.

 As I walked the corridors of Regional House and looked up at the photos of the early members of the ARA and the various chairman like Dove-Meyer Robinson, Hugh Lambie, Tom Pearce and Lee Murdoch I wondered if they would agree with what we had done – in so energetically supporting the abolition of their 47 year old organisation.  After All Dove-Meyer Robinson battled for years to get the government to agree to the formation of the Auckland Regional Authority.  What would Robbie have thought of all this?

Well, after some soul-searching, my conclusion was that one has to remember that people like Robbie and the people around him were visionaries – perhaps that word has become a little overused in recent times – but they weren’t institutionalist, hide-bound sort of people – they were radicals. 

They believed in Auckland and they believed in regionalism.  They believed in a Greater Auckland.

Greater Auckland not only in the geographical sense – but also in the aspirational sense.

I am comforted to think that Robbie and all the great regional leaders of those times would have been right behind the Super City – and had they heard Mayor Len Brown’s inspirational speech last night they would have applauded the loudest.

All the same I suggest we always keep in our hearts – and in our memories the sorrow and the tears of our former colleagues.  Let us remember that sacrifice, and redouble our efforts to make the Auckland Council and its future achievements worth that sacrifice.

I want to thank the Mayor for appointing me as chair of the transport committee and I want to state that I firmly support his vision as he so memorably unveiled it last night.

 Things like:

  • an international standard rapid rail system – including the CBD Loop and rail to the airport.
  • a new cruise ship terminal on a redeveloped waterfront
  • holding on to our wealth-producing, publicly-owned assets,
  •  a fair go for our long-suffering ratepayers, 
  • and commitment towards building unity and harmony for all Auckland as we go forward.

I support also Mayor Brown’s obvious willingness, as the leader of over one third of the country’s population,  first to work loyally and constructively with the government of the day – but where necessary to speak out and stand up to the government on behalf of the people of Auckland.

And I pledge to him and to you all – that I will spare not effort to help his vision become a reality.

I am very proud to be the member for Waitemata and Gulf where I have lived/and or worked since 1970. And I pledge to work supportively with the 3 empowered Local Boards to further the interests of the people and environment of Waitemata and Gulf.

 Last night I had the feeling of a great unity, of a coming together and sense of a tremendous unleashed energy.

 Auckland – the sleeping giant is awakening.  Auckland, one feels, is at the threshold of great achievements and is at last ready to achieve its great potential.

 Mr Mayor, fellow members, Ladies and gentlemen, there is a tremendous amount to be proud of about Auckland. Our superb harbours and waterfront, the volcanic cones, the magnificent Hauraki Gulf and its islands, our beautiful beaches, our outstanding regional parks and civic amenities.

It is my fervent hope – and the hope of thousands of Aucklanders that we also can achieve world class infrastructure – especially a world class rapid transit system.

Our collective vision and goal should be for an Auckland that in terms of its built environment, its civic infrastructure, its social and cultural fabric – aspires to the sublime level of Auckland outstanding natural landscape.  Tena tatou katoa.

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4 Responses

  1. Paul Berry says:

    I am a ratepayer in Auckland and feel able to make a comment. Ports of Auckland are involved in a dispute at the present time. Mr Gibson by instituting a lockout should be sued if the union is sued. He has added to the situation. The decision, by Maersk, to move its ships to Tauranga would have presumably been made months previously and this move may have been a result of Mr Gibson’s actions.( Lessening the number of ships using the port should be reflected in the salary received by Mr Gibson.)
    It would be of interest to know,for sure, who contacted the ship recently about “blacklisting”-the union or Ports of Auckland.
    Knowing this may be helpful.

  2. Paul Berry says:

    See Earlier

  3. Paul Berry says:

    kept telling me I need a CAPTCHA code

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