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“Passing Go” conference a huge success

23 November 2009

“Passing Go” conference a huge success with 400 delegates

The “Passing Go - Promoting Social Well-being in the new Auckland Council" conference held in Albany on Friday could well be a defining moment in the future makeup and direction of the new Auckland Council says North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams.

“This conference for the first time brought together our social policy decision-makers and representatives of the people who are affected by those decisions to focus thinking on promoting social well-being in the new Auckland Council,” Mayor Williams said.

“As a result, we can look forward to greater interaction and communication between the two groups as the new structures around the Auckland Council are fleshed out.”

Mayor Williams says that he was grateful that Ministers Paula Bennett and Rodney Hide took time to address the conference and to engage in a lively ‘question and answer’ session, resulting in several delegates being invited to make contact and engage in more dialogue around the particular sectors they represented.

“The new council will represent over 1.4 million people - one third of the population of New Zealand. So far the focus has been almost exclusively on infrastructure - roads and pipes - but unless the new council gets its community relationships right, and the resourcing to support them, it will do only half the job it is being created to do,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams says that at the conference Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide acknowledged that he was surprised at the complexity and subtlety of the relationships between the existing eight councils and community organisations.

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“Minister Hide told the conference he now has a clearer understanding of the importance of working to ensure that those relationships are carried through into the new structure, which is a promising start.”

“By drawing on the talent and expertise which exists already in the region, and keeping those complex relationships intact, the new Auckland Council stands a much greater chance of improving the social well-being of our communities,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams said the creation of the new Auckland Council is an opportunity to work better across the entire Auckland region, and to strengthen communication between Auckland and central government, and he warned that government must acknowledge that effective policy solutions require a co-ordinated approach.

“Central government must make a commitment to working with communities to wisely invest the nearly $12 billion of social spending in the region. If government continues to work in isolated silos within the Wellington bureaucracy, we will continue to see poor returns and unmet needs in Auckland,” Mayor Williams said.

“We need whole-of-government solutions that are collaborative, co-ordinated and developed at a regional level, but have their roots firmly planted in local communities. We need the government advisors round the table here in Auckland before their papers go to the cabinet table in Wellington, not read about them in the Herald after the decisions are made.”

“The proposed new Auckland Social Policy Forum may also be a step in the right direction, but it is important that Social Policy Minister Paula Bennett takes note of Auckland input as she further develops the forum’s structure and functions.”

Mayor Williams says that delegates to the Passing Go conference came from all over Auckland and included community and NGO representatives, a number of Members of Parliament, Mayors, Councillors, Community Board members and officers from local government, as well as representatives from government departments.

“The conference - and the proceedings when they are made available on the internet - will help focus thinking on a wide range of social issues as the transition towards one council for greater Auckland continues, and the fact that around 400 people attended the conference highlights the strength, significance and relevance of the community sector in greater Auckland,” Mayor Williams said

The ‘Passing Go – Promoting Social Well-being in the new Auckland Council’ conference was jointly organised by Raeburn House and North Shore Community and Social Services, with support from the North Shore, Manukau, Waitakere and Auckland City Councils.


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