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Auditor General’s Hauraki Gulf Report Accepted

AAuckland City has accepted the Report of the Auditor General’s inquiry into its management of the Gulf

“We accept the report, its recommendations and its comments. As the report itself acknowledged we are ‘a Council that is working towards resolving some of the issues and learning from past mistakes’,” says Stephen Rainbow, Manager of Public Affairs & Advocacy from Auckland City Council. “We are very willing to do better in the Gulf, and that’s why we asked the Auditor General to undertake the report in the first place – to provide us with an independent, authoritative view of where we could improve. That and the future are what we’re focused on now.

“It’s pleasing that the Auditor General’s office is satisfied, by and large, with the processes we have in place for the Resource Management Act and its compliance. But we accept the finding that, historically, there were issues of ‘culture’ in the Gulf. And there were a small number of staff-related issues which are now being addressed.”

The Auditor General’s report found that while it had no major process related concerns regarding Auckland City Council operations in the Hauraki Gulf, it had concerns about the way some processes had been carried out on occasion.

The report identified that in some situations additional training needed to be given to some staff, a clearer complaints system needed to be implemented, and better communications to the people in the Gulf, particularly about District Plan processes were required.

“We have already acted on each of these concerns,” says Dr Rainbow. “We have ensured our robust systems for performance appraisal and training are now being implemented. Staff have been given more training, and we’ll now begin to tailor our courses to better suit the Islands’ environment. A more formal complaints system was already under development before this report. It will be put in place by December this year, including a pamphlet which helps explain clearly to residents the process for lodging complaints.”

Dr Rainbow said the report highlighted the ‘natural tension’ that occurred in operating and implementing District Plan controls in a unique natural environment.

“The report says the environment and context of the islands are ‘special’,” he says. “For that reason, we’ve chosen to provide materials on the Resource Management Act, tailored to Gulf needs. Improved information and advice around consents, their conditions, and the subsequent compliance monitoring is planned.”

Dr Rainbow also said that the Gulf was an area that had grown tremendously in the past ten years. The islands are also known for the huge number of visitors who flock there in summer. So the context is unique for the city and probably for the country.

“Yet amidst all that change, Auckland City has still maintained a high level of service delivery to the Gulf. The City’s investment in the Gulf is also very high, with a range of major projects occurring over the past few years.”

Councillor Faye Storer said the report had largely reflected some of her own concerns as a Councillor and Community Board member in the Hauraki Gulf.

“The Report was extremely useful in pinpointing issues. While it highlighted some of the areas where the Council had performed well, it also provided some practical guidance on areas for improvement. I will be closely monitoring the recommendations of the report,” she said.

ENDS


For more information, please contact:
Stephen Rainbow
Manager, Public Affairs & Advocacy
Phone: (09) 307 7374
Mobile: 025 969 092

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