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Letter to Manukau - Issue 46

Friday 31 October 2008 - Issue 46

In this update:
Early childhood | Pubic transport: accelerator, not brake | Papatoetoe cricketers blaze to glory | Listening, heeding and planning carefully

Early childhood
I strongly believe that every child deserves to have the best educational opportunities from the beginning.

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the opening of the Nanaksar Education Phulwari - the first community-based childcare education centre by an Indian charity in New Zealand. Based at the trust's temple in Manurewa, the centre is a quality learning facility open to Manukau's children from all backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.
The Government recently announced funding for another nine pre-schools across Manukau, five of which are planned for Manurewa. This timely news follows some outstanding advocacy from MPs and councillors, including a pre-school conference held at the TelstraClear Pacific centre back in April.
We know that 60 per cent of our under-fives currently miss out on pre-schooling: a major barrier to fulfilling their academic potential. The extra schools are exactly what our city needs.
There is parallel investment at the tertiary level with the AUT University campus on Great South Road opening next February and the proposed tertiary campus close to Hayman Park due in about four years. I feel that we are really starting to deliver as a community and a country on the vision for the young people of our community: that each person has the opportunity to excel academically.

Public transport: accelerator, not brake
The recent announcement by Fullers that it would cease several ferry services around the Waitemata Harbour within the next three months spells bad news for us all. The Auckland Regional Transport Authority [ARTA] assures us a ferry service will continue, however it's an extraordinary situation given the region's commitment to promoting ferry travel alongside buses and trains in an integrated push for public transport. We have been working together and investing significantly to provide commuters with viable alternatives to car travel.

During the winter landslips at Kawakawa and Orere Pt, residents chose to use emergency ferry services to Pine Harbour while the road was blocked. Patronage of this service has remained high even after the mud was removed showing clearly that many locals will use ferries and enjoy the beauty of the Waitemata Harbour if they have the choice.

Auckland deserves a ferry service to rival Sydney's with the right infrastructure in place. The Half Moon Bay terminal is an important part of the regional ferry network. I will be speaking up for Manukau as we try to resolve the present contractual difficulties promptly.

Papatoetoe cricketers blaze to glory
My colleague, Deputy Mayor Gary Troup, is quite rightly proud of his old cricket team Papatoetoe's fine run of form. Reigning champions from last season's region wide premier two-day competition, the side has just blasted to further glory in this season's 20/20 tournament with a 30-run win over North Shore in the final at Lloyd Elsmore Park.

A former test cricketer, Gary is a Papatoetoe man through and through and tells me that the Recreation Ground-based team is hitting a rich vein of early season form. I wish both premier grade sides from Manukau - Papatoetoe and Howick-Pakuranga well in this season's two-day and one-day [50 overs] competitions. I hope either of them brings the trophies back home to Manukau. Good luck also to Mangere which plays out of Robertson Rd.

Listening, heeding and planning carefully
One of the major transport projects involves planning for the large increases in traffic that will use the Mill Road and Redoubt Road corridor. An upgraded road, likely to be four lanes, is needed to serve the changing needs of our growing community and our southern neighbour. The Takanini/Papakura area is zoned to expand over the next 10-20 years with 40,000 more residents and Flat Bush will also have at least 40,000 residents by 2020. We know that many will work around Manukau, including East Tamaki.

This presents us with many challenges - starting with community consultation on the various options which have been developed at these early planning stages. Many local residents who live along the planned route have taken an active interest in the project, contacting me directly to offer feedback on the available information. This hits home to me the need for robust and inclusive consultation processes for this and similar infrastructure upgrades. We are listening and are committed to providing more detailed information to the community as we further develop the options.

I sat in on a recent public meeting about the project and heard people question the merits of planning large-scale developments and growth in general. It brought back to me memories of cycling along Great South Road in Papatoetoe as a young fellow. While on my way to Wiri, I stopped at the intersection of what is now Te Irirangi Drive and stared at the steel spire on the corner. Later that day I asked my father what it was and he told me how the spire represented the centre of the future city of Manukau.

Manukau has seen extraordinary growth over the past four decades, requiring visionary leadership and careful planning. I look at the vast green fields and deep drains that, like the spire, represent a future city to our south. It underlines the need for city planners to be ahead of development, not behind, embracing growth that is, let's face it, part of our natural identity and key to sustained prosperity.

That is why we need to future-proof our transport networks, including this south-east arterial route, but to do so in a careful and consultative way. We must bring existing communities along with us in a shared vision of a brighter future.

See you out there!

Len Brown
Mayor of Manukau


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