20 years – reflection by Mayor Sir Barry Curtis
20 years – a reflection by the Mayor Sir Barry Curtis
When I was elected Mayor in 1983 the population was about 160,000. In 2003 twenty years later, the population has doubled to nearly 320,000. The City has become much more diverse.
The population of Manukau has continued to grow by 5,000 – 6,000 persons each year since the inception of the City back in 1965.
In 1989 Manukau amalgamated with Papatoetoe and Howick to create the new Manukau City. The Labour government led local government reforms, introduced strategic and annual planning and a more business like focus to the management of Local Government.
It also saw the introduction of Community Boards.
In terms of the new environment Manukau City Council has created strategies for employment, economic development, education, arts, youth and Pacific Peoples and is currently completing strategies on health and disabilities.
We have also seen the birth of the Counties Manukau Health Council and the Pacific Islands Advisory Committee.
At a regional level we have participated in the creation of a Regional Growth Strategy, Land Transport Strategy and passenger transport action plan.
I have seen the transformation of local government from being primarily a governing and regulatory body to more of a facilitator, planner and supporter of business and community initiatives.
I have led the development of thinking on a regional as well as local basis.
Manukau has been more people focussed and organised around strategies for community development, economic development and environmental management.
We are now required to enter into far more consultation with our people, which I applaud.
Manukau has come of age. We used to be the ‘cinderella’ of local government but are now a leading edge City in New Zealand.
Over the years, people’s expectations of Council have increased regarding community safety, recreation and sport, the arts, facilitating health and education facilities and services and employment opportunities.
We are focussed on encouraging business investment.
We have seen the evolution of the Auckland International Airport as a major employer and economic driver in the City.
I have continually resisted the sale of the airport shares to enormous financial benefit of ratepayers.
We have facilitated the emergence of major employment centres in East Tamaki, Wiri and the airport development zone. East Tamaki and Wiri are the largest in the Auckland region.
We have completed a full range of facilities and services and open space throughout the 6 urban wards of Manukau including libraries, recreation centres, swimming pools, community halls and Citizens Advice Bureaus.
We have contracted out many services particularly road works and parks maintenance to the private sector to the advantage of ratepayers.
My job as Mayor has changed from just being Chairman of the Council and ceremonial head to a strong strategic involvement in major issues, advocacy to central government as the representative of the people and facilitating physical, economic and community development across the City.
We have progressively built significant roading infrastructure in the City to sustain massive urban development such as Ti Rakau Drive, the Eastern access to the Airport and Te Irirangi Drive.
We are now pursuing the introduction of the Waiouru Interchange on the southern motorway for connection to the proposed Highbrook Business Park and Springs Road in East Tamaki.
We have also facilitated the removal of the oxidation ponds and the clean up of the Manukau Harbour through the $500m investment by Watercare Services at the Mangere Treatment Plant.
We have purchased large areas of land such as Barry Curtis Park, Puhinui Park, Mountfort Park and are facilitating the new Flatbush Town Centre on Council-owned land.
Finally I would like to say; My commitment to a philosophy of social justice and equity has never changed since taking office in 1983.
In my opinion it has been a great advantage to have long-term stability and experience at the helm of the City at both a political and managerial level.
With so many changes over the years it is vital that we have people in the organisation who appreciate the history of the City, its demographics and the diverse needs of our many communities.
Also, long established relationships are absolutely critical in fostering trust, confidence and mutual respect for others.
I am proud that I have been personally responsible for developing so many of these tremendous networks for the benefit of the City over the years.
My prime focus has always been service to the people of Manukau I intend to continue on this path for the forseeable future.
17 October 2003