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Evaluating Auckland’s amalgamation

Evaluating Auckland’s amalgamation

Massey University recently hosted a seminar for researchers of the unitary local government model implemented in Auckland in 2010. The aim was to review the governance reform after its fifth year in existence and evaluate its success.

The creation of Auckland Council was more than just an amalgamation of seven former authorities. Neither a “city” nor a “district”, it introduced a new governance model with new executive powers for the mayor, and second-tier local boards. Other regions may adopt or adapt it in future – and at the moment a similar model has been proposed by the Local Government Commission for the Hawke’s Bay region.

The seminar brought together researchers with an interest in evaluating the Auckland governance model and its effects. Seminar convenor Associate Professor Grant Duncan says they investigated a range of topics at the seminar, including: Has it lived up to its promise? How well is the governance structure working? Would we recommend a similar unification to other regions? If so, what lessons have been learned?

Mr David Shand, a member of the former Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, gave a keynote speech at the seminar. He was followed by Dr Mike Reid, Principal Policy Advisor, Local Government New Zealand, who put the Auckland model in the context of wider developments in local government policy.

“The conclusion of the day was that, although there remain many headline-grabbing problems in Auckland, the unified council has succeeded in getting those problems addressed in a much more cohesive manner, with one mayor and governing body, all working to a single plan, and underpinned by one budget,” says Dr Duncan.

He also issued a caveat for other regions currently considering amalgamation. “This model was designed specifically for the unique problems facing Auckland. It may or may not be suitable for other regions.”


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