Appendix - Summary of proceedings
Keynote address - Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffery Palmer, Former Prime Minister and Chair of the Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel – What the Independent Review Panel learned during its engagement process.
The Independent Review Panel found that New Zealand is a remorselessly democratic country, and many people believe that councils do not really listen to citizens' views. People want a local voice, and more local democracy, not less. On the other hand, there is support for an integrated regional approach on issues where it matters. Sir Geoffrey stopped short of telling the Forum what the Panel would recommend in its report, which will be released for public consultation from 30 October. He encouraged people to read and discuss the report which will be available for discussion over the next few weeks.
Four youth speakers were introduced by Prof. James Liu, Academic Director for the Forum and Professor of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington. They set the challenge for the day.
William Guzzo, Victoria University of Wellington, Finalist in the Rotary Club of Wellington Eureka awards for young science orators 2012 - William challenged Wellington to embrace its weird side, both socially and economically, turning this into business opportunities.
Brittany Trilford, Queen Margaret College, International Youth Speaker at the Rio+20 Earth Summit - Brittany encouraged us to take a holistic approach, based on connectedness between economic, environmental, social and cultural issues.
Ben Guerin, Scots College, Finalist in the Rotary Club of Wellington Eureka awards for young science orators - Ben challenged people to focus on the use of natural resources for energy generation, and suggested a grand plan for sustainability.
Rangimarie Teautama, Wellington East Girls' College, Winner of the Koromiko trophy for the senior English section at the Nga Manu Korero speaking competitions - Rangimarie talked about the importance of communities, family and culture, and also the need for jobs. She reminded us that living the dream in Wellington isn't just about mega-bucks.
Session 1 - Community Leadership and Local Governance Frameworks
Peter McKinlay, Director, Local Government Centre, Auckland University of Technology - Community governance internationally – trends and highlights - Peter McKinlay described the trends and highlights of local governance internationally. He explained a number of models which seek to improve citizen participation, whilst also improving consistency and efficiency of local government and the management of infrastructure.
Matiu Rei, Executive Director, Te RÅ«nanga O Toa RangÄï¿½tira - A Maori perspective on community governance; reflections on the impact of Treaty settlements on the relationships between iwi, hapu and other local communities - Matiu Rei talked about the challenges for Maori in dealing with disadvantage, noting that Treaty settlements do not redress long years of damage. He stressed the importance of local government providing an environment in which families can thrive.
Prof. Peter Hughes, Head of the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington – Central government and local communities - who makes the decisions? Capturing community voices - Peter Hughes said that the key issues are about people, families and communities, and that political and local governance arrangements need to be formed around these.
Session 2 - Who Makes the Decisions About the Kind of Community We Get? What can we learn from other places?
The Forum then considered examples from other communities and possible lessons for Wellington.
Rod Oram, Business Journalist, Broadcaster and Columnist – Lessons for Wellington from Auckland - Rod Oram talked about the Auckland model and the intention of co-governance at regional and local level, and the tensions in putting this into practice. He said that participatory governance is much in evidence and a palpably stronger sense of the one city has emerged. There are still challenges in putting the design into practice and in the working relationship between Auckland and central government.
Hon. David Caygill, former Minister and Deputy Chair, Environment Canterbury Regional Council – Reflections on central government decisions in relation to local governance in Christchurch and Canterbury -- David Caygill outlined the relationship between the three players in local governance – citizens, local and central government. The challenge is to understand and reconcile the diversity of citizens' expectations. He described the mechanisms whereby central government responded to a request from the Canterbury mayors and replaced the elected regional councillors with commissioners. Central government will react quickly to respond to a community consensus when there is one, and may need to act when there is no such consensus.
Mary-Jane Rivers, Founder and Trustee of Inspiring Communities -- How do we foster local leadership of creative and resilient communities? -- Mary Jane Rivers talked about the need to start with communities at a very local level, to discover the needs of citizens and families, and to empower people to build connections at village level, and build the variety of environments that meet their needs. She stressed the need to move from labelling people in terms of deficits and needs to focussing on strengths and holistic community driven initiatives.
The Auckland and Brisbane models were discussed, and the need for Wellington to carve its own niche, alongside central government in Wellington. Good practice is as important as the structural design.
Discussion focussed on the need to improve dialogue with citizens, the use of social media, and the importance of the very local dimension of community leadership and local governance.
Session 3 - Options for Wellington: What Do We Want?
The next session addressed the economic, cultural, social and environmental aspects of building the kind of Wellington in which people want to live and work.
Sam Knowles, Company Director and former CEO of Kiwibank- The importance of economic development in creating the kind of Wellington that we want – Sam Knowles talked about the exodus of businesses from Wellington, and the need for an environment that would keep young people in Wellington. He talked about the Wellington universities not being focussed on the needs of business for specialist knowledge workers; a skills shortage in critical areas related to building and managing large sophisticated businesses; the need to promote investment in Wellington; and the need for Wellington businesses to focus on meeting the needs of central government as the biggest client for most Wellington businesses.
Dave Gibson, Producer and Chair, Gibson Group - Focusing on attracting creative and intellectual talent to create the kind of place that we want to live and work in – Dave Gibson said that the people needed for the creative industries are drawn to the topography and scale of Wellington, the lifestyle, vibrancy, schools and physical environment, within which there are high quality jobs. Businesses and individuals need to find the work. A critical issue for creative businesses is to assure a minimum level of business activity during lean times; those businesses are accustomed to up scaling when required in good times. Local government can support this, not necessarily with cash, often just with relationships and recognition.
Susan Blaikie, former Wellington City Missioner - Social responsibility provides the underpinning for creating the kind of Wellington we want to live in – Susan Blaikie said that part of what matters in building the Wellington in which we want to live is how we care for the vulnerable and dispossessed. What measures do we put in place to support our neighbours and communities? How do we care for the most unworthy? Being a Wellingtonian should mean something other than being so absorbed in our own busyness that we don't set aside time to build connections with our neighbour.
Wayne Alexander, Environmental Activist - Environmental sustainability and community resilience are fundamentally linked in creating the Wellington that we want -- Wayne Alexander talked about the local government role in guardianship of the physical environment, natural resources and particularly water. Reduction of pollution in Wellington Harbour would both improve water clarity and possibly create an opportunity for aquaculture.
Session 4 - Reflections and Perspectives from Local Government Leaders
Prof. Pat Walsh, Vice Chancellor, Victoria University of Wellington, chaired a panel of local government leaders, describing the kind of Wellington are you trying to create, who should make the decisions and how, and what they are going to do about it.
Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington City, talked about the integration of the four well-beings and the need for balance. Being on the world map matters for Wellington, and better air connections are important. Creating a city where talent wants to live, and where talent can make a really good living, requires better connections within the community and promotion of the economic development strategy. Whatever proposal emerges from the Panel's Report and subsequent discussions between councils, Celia is keen to see any change proposal put to a poll, so that citizens can have their say.
Wayne Guppy, Mayor of Upper Hutt City, said that any change in local government arrangements needs to benefit ratepayers, citizens and each council. The focus needs to be on economic development and economic productivity of the region. Competition for business is international, not just Auckland and Christchurch. Some things must be done regionally - civil defence, the three waters, transport planning and back office services.
Nick Leggett, Mayor of Porirua City, welcomed the process of generating ideas, sparking conversations and methodical discussion about creating the best environment for people to live, work and learn. He noted that the region is already interdependent for both jobs and education. There is both diversity and sameness in our region. We need both scale and scope in our local government arrangements. It will be important that people have their say over the next few months.
Hon. Fran Wilde, Chair, Greater Wellington Regional Council, said that local government needs to be able to span across the region, and there was now an opportunity to make Wellington work. The Panel's Report will provide useful analysis and principles and options. After the report is published the councils will workshop and might come to one proposal or not. If at least some of the councils know what they want an application can be prepared and submitted to the Local Government Commission. Fran stressed the need to move quickly. If the process was progressed quickly, any changes could be in place for the next local government election.
Session 5 – Summing up the Forum
Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central, summarised the presentations and discussions during the Forum, and drew out the key themes for discussion and confirmation by participants. These themes are reflected at the beginning of this report.
Hewitt Humphrey, President of the Rotary Club of Wellington, drew out some of the key action points identified during the day, which are reflected at the end of Part 2 of this report.
Back to the report on the key themes and actions here.