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Doing it in Auckland


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2010, 08:56:35 pm »


Truck enters cycleway

JAFA DRIVERS, EH?     

By LUKE PARKER - Western Leader | 5:00AM - Thursday, 03 June 2010

STICKY SITUATION: This truck got stuck on the cycleway next to the northwestern motorway. — Photo: JONATHAN BIXLEY.
STICKY SITUATION: This truck got stuck on the cycleway next to the northwestern motorway. — Photo: JONATHAN BIXLEY.

PHOTOGRAPHER Jonathan Bixley says a truck was just inches away from getting stuck in a swamp after being driven along a cycleway adjoining the northwestern motorway.

The Te Atatu resident was on his way to drop off his girlfriend in the city when he spotted the drama unfolding in the opposite lane.

He stopped on his way back at 8am and took some pictures.


BIG TOW: A large tow truck came to the rescue after having to pull down an area of fence. — Photo: JONATHAN BIXLEY.
BIG TOW: A large tow truck came to the rescue
after having to pull down an area of fence.
 — Photo: JONATHAN BIXLEY.


"One set of wheels was in the mud and right next to the swamp," Jonathan says. "The truck was centimetres away from going in. It could have very easily ended up on its side."

The 37-year-old says the truck had travelled a kilometre or so down the fenced-off cycleway before being unable to progress further.

Police, a tow truck and several workers came to the rescue. "They took down around 15 to 20 metres of fence to get him out," Jonathan says. Police are investigating.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/3767258/Truck-enters-cycleway
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« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2010, 05:11:20 pm »


Farewell to Flora's — historic brothel

By GERALDINE JOHNS - HERALD on SUNDAY | 4:00AM - Sunday, July 18, 2010

Famous Flora's massage parlour in Pitt Street, Auckland. — Photo: Brett Phibbs.
Famous Flora's massage parlour in Pitt Street,
 Auckland. — Photo: Brett Phibbs.


HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN!

This week a screeching fluorescence of construction barriers went up on the triangle where Pitt Street meets Vincent Street in central Auckland. Flora's massage parlour was still pretending to assert its presence in the form of a sign that read "Open" (although the doors shut two years ago) and a tired overhead billboard in headache shades of purple and pink. The girls it referred to ("soft, soothing, sensual, sexy, seductive") have long gone.

Now the only sign of action is that of workers who are ripping the guts out of Flora's and its old neighbour, the Shell petrol station. In its new guise, the site — it is said — will host a wine shop and a backpackers' hostel. Or maybe a five star hotel. As has always been the case, rumours abound about what's going on at one of Auckland's most notorious spots.

Flora's has always been a brothel — only you didn't call them brothels back then. And it was run by one of the city's godfathers of the sex industry. Ron King, like Flora's, which he founded, is no longer in the game; he left New Zealand five years ago. But his business lives on: the Pelican Club in Newton is run by his daughter Lyn and son Roy. They are New Zealand's First Family of Sex.

Tonight King senior, 76, is packing his bags. He's got an early morning flight to catch to Macau. He's on the phone from his home in Mt Tambourine, Queensland, where he's dabbling in a bit of property development. Here is a man who is proud of his past. "I built the first brothel in New Zealand — ever!" he asserts. Any other putative claimants to that fame are long dead, so we will let the mantle rest with him.

King, born in Britain, arrived in New Zealand in the late 50s. He'd decided to relocate because, he says, "I had a daughter and a son and I decided I'd had enough of England. I wanted to raise them in a better place."

And so he brought them to calmer, faraway shores — and raised them while he built an illicit sex dynasty. Daughter Lyn says that when she was young her father would tell her he worked in the entertainment industry. He would take her to work — and then give her $10 to go and buy lunch. "The girls used to walk around in bikinis. I'd be shunted out, and I'd say ‘why can't I hang round?’."

Still, it wasn't meant to be like this. King, who says he was an agent for all manner of 60s pop stars ("I'd been associated with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Small Faces ... Jimi Hendrix-he was a very close friend of mine") had a string of nightclubs in and around London. But his attempts to bring a bit of Brit nightlife to Auckland were short-lived. He says his first club, in Newmarket, was closed down by established nightclub heads who saw him as competition.

"So I spent about a week driving around in a taxi, looking at different spots. And I came across this building in Emily Place. It was a poky little hole. It was run by a fellow with a Japanese woman giving Japanese massage. I bought the lease and said I'd do a massage parlour; [but] to be honest, the girls did whatever they wanted to do-provided it was under control."

(King's definition of ‘under control’ is that the girls came and told him if they were being harassed by clients. Sex industry workers from that era suggest that brothel owners very much kept a control over their girls).

He called it the Japanese Bathhouse and it proved a big hit. Flora's, named after Auckland's most notorious madam, Flora MacKenzie, came next. It too started out as a poky little hole, says King. "Three bedrooms, up some stairs, with a sauna. I developed it into a massive great brothel."

Perhaps to reflect the international background of its owner, it presented an around-the-world approach to the selling of sex: Sir could choose from the Egyptian room, the Japanese room, the Western, the log cabin. Or perhaps he'd prefer the beach room? Or the aquarium? Oooh, it was very tasteful, says King. He ran a sauna too-a mixed one. "Ladies and men — customers — going in and having a sauna with their clothes off. It was very, very civilised."

Civilised. It's a word frequently reached for in the King lexicon. So is the term "clean" when he's talking about both premises and girls. Everything nice and tidy in the underworld. Still, not everybody operated like he did, says King. "With all due respect to Rainton I didn't do slop houses. Mine were very tasteful. I built theme rooms."

He is referring to the ‘King of K Road’ or strip club magnate, Rainton Hastie, who opened his first strip club, the Pink Pussycat, on Auckland's Karangahape Road in 1963. Hastie, who also ran massage parlours and video shops, died in 1995.

But King's girls offered something different. Back then, a massage cost $1.50. And what if a customer wanted more, he is asked. "Are you open minded, love?" he responds. He is assured that age has brought with it exposure to a variety of sights. "OK then, for a hand job, it was anything from $5 to $10. And a full service was $20."

Those were the days. Modern day rates for sex workers operating out of premises owned by someone else are put at $100 or more — after fees have been deducted — for providing sex once. Women running their own businesses will charge up to $150 an hour.

The King empire expanded further: the Pink House in Symonds Street, the Geisha Bathhouse (now the Penthouse). And then he branched out.

In the mid-90s, he set up Showgirls, a strip club featuring what was then the new phenomenon of lap dancers.

"Showgirls was something never seen before. It was very, very, very upclass. The dress standard was sharp. I'm the only man in the world to have a queue forming from Fort Street to get in to Showgirls [in Customs Street]. The whole of Fort Street closed down after I opened. I cornered that market, I civilised it."

And what of the women? One of the many who worked for Ron King — and she wishes to remain anonymous-talks of his work ethic. There was a uniform: matching lingerie, stay-up stockings, no tattoos. There were training sessions on how to make the men come back. "If you worked for his establishment, it was called the ‘Famous Flora's way’," she explains. And there were performance reviews. "Every three months Ron would have a meeting and list all the sex workers from top to bottom: who'd had the most clients, who had the most regulars — if you didn't hold or engage with a male within three months, he'd say ‘you're wasting your f***ing time’."

Ron King, says the former King employee was "a bastard". "But we made so much money."

Things were different back then. Up until June 2003, when prostitution was decriminalised, it was illegal to run a brothel or earn a living from prostitution. Instead, sex workers masqueraded as ‘masseuses’ — forever living in fear that they would get busted by an undercover cop.

To be caught with condoms then was enough to get you arrested. The Prostitution Reform Act, which was passed with the slimmest of majorities, changed all that.

Megan, who owns and runs Fleur De Lys in Wellington, got into the sex industry not long after King arrived in New Zealand. Unlike him, she didn't know what she was getting into when she applied for a job. "I went to get a job in a massage parlour as a masseuse, and the other thing-you know, sex-came along the way. The first time I got offered money for it, I thought ‘well, why not? I'm standing here naked’." It was 1975, and she was 20. She got $3 for a clothed massage, $5 for going topless and $8 for a nude massage. She soon found out that she could earn $20 for a hand job and $50 for sex. (Compare that with today's rates at Fleur De Lys: $100 for an hour or $50 for a hand job).

She made up her mind from that first day of realisation that she could make ‘magnificent money’ — and that's what she's done. Her business is freehold; she will soon take possession of her new home which is under construction and will be mortgage-free.

Megan's still in the business today. "A girl like me doesn't have an expiry date, or a use-by date," she says. Back in the beginning, she says, she needed a criminal lawyer to help her if there was any trouble with the police. Now she has a conveyancing lawyer to help her deal with the freehold business that she owns and her property deals.

It's not just the rules that have changed, it's the look, too. Back when it was illegal, brothels were all about velvet curtains and plush wallpaper, says Megan. Now it's cedar shutters and proper beds with sheets-rather than a sauna room and a massage table. "Fleur De Lys is opulent. I've gathered a lot of things over the years."

Catherine Healey, the national co-ordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, says that it wasn't just employees who sometimes turned up thinking the deal ended with a massage. "You'd have clients who really did think that it was just a massage. The person thinking that would get a fairly rough turn-around time."

Healey remembers the first time she went to a parlour: "And there were women wearing Dallas clothing: shoulder pads, long floating dresses and clothes you wouldn't wear elsewhere. Now people can walk in and out in the clothes they wear on the street."

Ron King thinks dress standards have slipped. "It used to be much more sophisticated. Now, I doubt you would get anyone walk into a brothel with a suit on. I understand it's very unusual to see anyone in a suit. And, you know the old saying, clothes maketh the man."

The way he sees it, the Prostitution Reform Act has brought nothing but bad to the sex industry. "Brothels now are past their use-by date, because girls can do what they like-freelance wherever they like. There is literally no control [whereas] you can go into a brothel and you've got strict control. There's no control on privates [private operators]. Girls will do anything to get money."

King says the Government made a complete fool of itself when it changed the legislation. "Now I hear you can open a brothel near schools, near churches-anywhere. You can't even do that in Queensland."

His daughter sees some positives. "One of the easier things for me [now] is when a girl asks if sex is involved, I don't have to waste their time." By that she means she can just say yes.

Brian Le Gros, who owns the White House strip club and Monica's massage parlour in Auckland, agrees with Ron King about decriminalisation. Le Gros, who previously commanded a sex industry presence in Vivian Street, Wellington, describes the current laws as "appalling".

He believes every massage parlour business has been destroyed because of the legislation. He says it is difficult to find suitable sex workers, because they are working privately, and without adequate protection. Furthermore, he says, the laws have not eliminated street prostitution. King is now 76. He says he no longer needs the problems associated with running a parlour or a strip club or a brothel. But that's not to say he's put his past behind him. He might set something up in Macau. And he's also got his eye on Vietnam.

"That's another up-and-coming area, if you've got the right contacts. I've got a man over there doing some arithmetic for me. And I've got a couple of things to look at in Manila too."


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10659622
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« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2010, 01:41:43 pm »


Viaduct closure will hit bus services

All systems go for big motorway closure

By MATHEW DEARNALEY - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Friday, 27 August 2010

All southbound lanes across Newmarket Viaduct may be closed for up to 36 hours from 5pm on Saturday, September 04. — Photo: Richard Robinson. Bus services will be affected throughout greater Auckland. — Photo: Paul Estcourt.
LEFT: All southbound lanes across Newmarket Viaduct may be closed for up to 36 hours
from 5pm on Saturday, September 04.— Photo: Richard Robinson. | RIGHT: Bus services
will be affected throughout greater Auckland. — Photo: Paul Estcourt.


AUCKLANDERS are being warned of possible delays to bus services throughout the region during the country's biggest motorway closure, which is just eight days away.

The Transport Agency has also confirmed that as well as closing Newmarket Viaduct's southbound carriageway for up to 36 hours from 5pm on Saturday, September 04, it will block three city entry points to the Southern Motorway — at Hobson Street, Symonds Street and Khyber Pass Road.

Although its aim is to reduce the load on the Gillies Avenue off-ramp just short of the viaduct, that will extend the geographic range of local roads likely to be disrupted by the closure.

Even so, Auckland City transport committee chairman Ken Baguley said yesterday that he was confident traffic engineers from both the agency and the council were doing all they could to minimise the impact of the disruption, which was the price of completing "an incredible bit of engineering".

He was referring to a $215 million project to replace the Newmarket Viaduct.

A new southbound carriageway is to become available to traffic on the Monday after the closure, which is needed to switch lanes between structures and move an 800-tonne lifting gantry.

Mr Baguley said teams from both organisations would be busy throughout the closure monitoring traffic movements and adjusting signals if necessary to reduce logjams.

Transport Agency highways manager Tommy Parker said the risk in allowing cars on to the motorway from the central city would have been seeing them heading "straight into a queue they can't get out of".


Newmarket Viaduct Closure

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority is promoting trains as the fastest and most reliable way to travel during the closure.

It is laying on more trains than usual, and with extra carriages, in a desperate attempt to keep Auckland moving.

But authority spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said widespread road congestion as a result of diverting up to 60,000 cars, which would normally use the viaduct's southbound lanes on a Sunday, would also hold up buses, with potential region-wide effects.

The authority has arranged for Veolia Transport to add six extra train services on the Saturday of the closure, and 25 more on the Sunday, between Otahuhu and Britomart.

It will also subsidise three extra ferry services each way between Auckland and Half Moon Bay on Saturday, and five on Sunday.

Although a contributor to a Facebook page set up by the Transport Agency's viaduct-building consortium suggested public transport be provided free during the closure, Ms Hunter said that would be a costly proposition for which her organisation had received no request from the agency.

Mr Parker said it was unclear whether free public transport would make any substantial difference to traffic congestion.

"What we are doing is asking people not to travel," he said.


Newmarket Viaduct

The Facebook page includes a list of local events to encourage Aucklanders to stay close to home.

Although closing the Hobson Street, Symonds Street and Khyber Pass Road entry points to the motorway is intended to reduce pressure on the Gillies Avenue off-ramp, the agency has upset the Newmarket Business Association by preparing a two-lane clearway through its territory to the St Marks Road on-ramp via Mortimer Pass.

It has widened the Gillies Avenue and Mortimer Pass intersection temporarily to cope with up to 2000 vehicles an hour including side-to-side trucks, compared with normal peak southbound flow across the viaduct of 4300.

But association chief executive Cameron Brewer said: "We just think it's ludicrous to divert motorway traffic through one of the smallest streets in Auckland."

Mr Brewer said his organisation strongly supported the viaduct replacement project and was looking forward to a public walk across the new carriageway between 10am and 2pm on Sunday, to be followed by a cycle ride from 2.45pm.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase Newmarket and for families to come in and be part of history and support local cafes and shops because the next weekend [of the viaduct closure] will be a whole different proposition," he said.

Mr Parker said that although a second closure would be needed in 2012 to switch traffic to a new northbound carriageway, there had been little disruption to traffic during the rest of the project.

"We think two days of disruption is reasonable in the scale of things, but we will hopefully get off [the viaduct] as quickly as we can."


______________________________________

GEARING UP

  • Southbound lanes of Southern Motorway will be closed from 5pm on Saturday, September 04, and all day Sunday, September 05.

  • Hobson Street, Symonds Street and Khyber Pass Road on-ramps will also be closed.

  • Bus services across the city may experience delays.

  • Motorists are advised to travel by car only if necessary over this period, especially on the Sunday.

______________________________________

For detours, maps and more information go to:

www.nzta.govt.nz/newmarketconnection.

www.maxx.co.nz.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10669177



It should be fun, eh?

Watching Auckland grind to a halt in gridlock!

And guess where I'll be next weekend too!
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« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2010, 02:37:57 pm »


Crowds expected for Viaduct preview

NZPA | 11:31AM - Sunday, 29 August 2010

MORE THAN 15,000 Aucklanders are expected to walk or cycle across the newly constructed Newmarket Viaduct today, 18 months into the development of the city's busiest motorway.

Three southbound lanes are due to open to traffic next week, but pedestrians were given the chance to see the latest developments in the $215 million project before then.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Gez Johns said more than 2000 people had walked across the bridge in the 45 minutes after 9am and, weather permitting, people would continue to come in droves for the rest of the day.

Before traffic is allowed to use the viaduct, the Southern Motorway, southbound, between Gillies Avenue and Greenlane will be closed for up to 36 hours on September 04 and 05, meaning up to 60,000 vehicles will have to be re-routed through local roads.

The closure would cause significant disruptions to commuters, and motorists were advised to take public transport that weekend, Mr Johns said.

A fourth southbound lane should be completed by early 2011 and construction of new northbound lanes and demolition of the old northbound bridge is expected to be completed by 2012.

Mr Johns said the development would ease a lot of the frustration that comes from commuting over the viaduct in peak-hour traffic, as well as allowing progressive development of Newmarket.

"Previously this end of Newmarket has been a bit of an untidy mix of secondhand car dealerships and car parks so the long term vision for the project is to create a stronger, more sustainable bridge that will actually allow for better development underneath and allow the spirit of Newmarket to continue a little but further up Broadway."


http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4072922/Crowds-expected-for-Viaduct-preview
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« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2010, 09:30:18 pm »


You do realise that the airport bus will be affected as well........... Wink Cheesy
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« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2010, 11:39:00 pm »


You do realise that the airport bus will be affected as well........... Wink Cheesy


The last three times I've been up there (earlier this year) the airport bus didn't go anywhere near the Southern Motorway.
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« Reply #31 on: August 30, 2010, 02:35:36 am »


Jeeeezus.....those bloody JAFA retailers are a moaning & whinging lot! 

Anyone would think their arses are on fire or something like that....

Perhaps this news story really belongs in the MOAN MOAN MOAN .... WHINGE WHINGE WHINGE thread! 




Concerns viaduct diversions bad for business

NZPA | 5:21PM - Sunday, 29 August 2010

AUCKLAND BUSINESSES are concerned traffic diversions put in place while the Newmarket Viaduct is developed will be bad for business on Father's Day, and create traffic mayhem.

The southbound segment of the Southern Motorway between Gillies Avenue and Greenlane will be closed for up to 36 hours on September 04 and 05, meaning up to 60,000 vehicles will have to be re-routed through local roads.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Cameron Brewer said commuters were being advised to stay well clear of Newmarket over the weekend, meaning already struggling businesses would miss out on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

He also questioned the New Zealand Transport Agency's decision to re-route motorway traffic down Mortimer Pass, one of the smallest streets in central Auckland.

However, he did support the development as a whole.

Tori Percy, manager of clothing store Double Exposure, said she would not bother opening for business on Sunday because customers were expected to be few and far between.

"And one of our staff members lives on the North Shore, so it's going to be a nightmare for them to get to work anyway," she said.

Euro Style manager Jacob Jarhbait said father's day was typically busy for them, and he was disappointed they would not be able to cash in on it.

"We are in the menswear business so a lot of people will shop on that day."

"I think if they chose this weekend or the weekend after it would have been much better," he said.

An estimated 15,000 Aucklanders walked or cycled across the three newly constructed southbound lanes of the viaduct today, 18 months into the development of the city's busiest motorway.

A fourth southbound lane should be completed by early 2011 and construction of new northbound lanes and demolition of the old northbound bridge is expected to be completed by 2012.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Gez Johns said while he understood the traffic diversions were an imposition on Newmarket businesses, every measure had been taken to ensure impact was minimal.

"We also want to make it absolutely clear to all would-be visitors to Newmarket that it is possible to get in there and the train service runs directly to the new train station in Newmarket."

The 15,000 or so visitors that came to the area today to see the viaduct development would also mitigate the effects of next week's lost business, he said.

"During the course of the day we've brought close to 20,00 people through the area and every single person who's come over the bridge has been encouraged by our marshals to check out how Newmarket's been developing, and I think it's been very successful — Newmarket is packed today."


http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4073230/Concerns-viaduct-diversions-bad-for-business
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« Reply #32 on: August 30, 2010, 12:41:56 pm »

New Manukau Motorway opened on Saturday and will cut 20 minutes off the time for some to get to the airport.
It was open for pedestrians but we didn't go as doing it in Auckland for us was rugby.   
This new Manukau motorway opening is going to make it easier for me as takes all the traffic off Wiri Station Road (where I work) which up till now has handled all the traffic from the airport and West Auckland wanting to get to the southern motorway.
After 3pm each day its been one big traffic jam. 

http://www.aucklandmotorways.co.nz/southwestern/swmanukau.html
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« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2010, 05:11:08 pm »


When peak oil is reached & passed, and fuel supplies start to become scarce, Auckland is going to have miles and miles of multi-lane parking lots for people to park all their useless cars on.

Should be interesting, eh? 
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« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2010, 05:22:48 pm »


When peak oil is reached & passed, and fuel supplies start to become scarce, Auckland is going to have miles and miles of multi-lane parking lots for people to park all their useless cars on.

Should be interesting, eh? 

Nah, the useless cars will be scrapped, the multilanes will be cycleways and the cycleways will be railways again.
 
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« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2010, 05:23:29 pm »

Multi lane cycle lanes, just have to alter the speed signs.  Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: August 30, 2010, 05:29:13 pm »

You got there before me Nitz.   Great minds think alike.  Wink
I was daydreaming in the reply room  Grin
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« Reply #37 on: August 30, 2010, 05:49:01 pm »



Quote
Great minds think alike.
many a true word, ferney..  
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« Reply #38 on: August 31, 2010, 03:17:00 pm »


You do realise that the airport bus will be affected as well........... Wink Cheesy


The last three times I've been up there (earlier this year) the airport bus didn't go anywhere near the Southern Motorway.

It won't need to in order to be caught up in the chaos.

I looked up the route Roll Eyes it isn't the most direct route that is for sure. If I am going to the city from the airport I don't use the motorway either, I go up Manukau Rd, through Newmarket and along Kyber Pass rather than through Mt Eden. Then again I am usually heading north of the bridge so it is straight to the motorway on ramp at Gillies Ave by running up the rat route one block over from Manukau Rd.
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« Reply #39 on: August 31, 2010, 04:15:24 pm »


I'm not too fussed about it.

I've got to head up to the North Shore to purchase a new camera, but that will be on the Saturday morning before everything turns to custard....I should well and truely be back across the bridge in downtown Auckland by lunchtime or early afternoon at the latest.

And I'm staying in a hotel directly across the road from the concert venue where I will be going to two concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings, so all I've got to do is walk across Queen Street from one side to the other. No transport worries there.

The bus trip to the airport late on Sunday afternoon will no doubt be slower than usual, but when I'm catching that Sunday evening flight to Masterton, I generally head to the airport early anyway and have a meal before boarding the flight at 6:30pm, so I'll simply catch a bus 30 minutes or so earlier than the one I usually catch, and I'll still have heaps of time up my sleeve.

No wucking furries.....but it should be fun watching the gridlock in Auckland on Sunday, eh?

I might even catch a FREE train up to Newmarket to watch the fun!  Grin


BTW....these are the two concerts I'm going to....


http://www.the-edge.co.nz/Event-Pages/M/Michael-Houstoun.aspx

http://www.the-edge.co.nz/Event-Pages/C/Carlo-Curley.aspx



Train trips free during viaduct closure

By MATTHEW DEARNALEY - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Auckland Trains. — Photo: Doug Sherring.

TRAIN TRIPS will be free throughout Auckland's rail network during this weekend's motorway closure on Newmarket Viaduct.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority — which already intended running extra trains during the closure of the viaduct's southbound lanes for up to 36 hours from 5pm on Saturday — announced late yesterday that it would also underwrite free rail travel.

"Aucklanders are concerned about getting around the city during this time — free train travel is a small way we can assist," said customer services general manager Mark Lambert.

But Mr Lambert urged people not to take open-slather advantage of the offer, saying they needed to consider whether their travel was essential as capacity on trains would be limited.

Authority communications manager Sharon Hunter said the move would cost her organisation about $10,000 — which it would absorb within existing budgets as a contribution to helping people move around the city, rather than billing the Government's Transport Agency, which is in charge of the viaduct closure.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee said he proposed the free travel idea to the transport authority because widespread road congestion during the closure would affect buses but not trains.

KiwiRail has also decided to put on extra freight trains between the port and its Southdown container storage yards to take up to 500 trucks off the roads during the closure.


An estimated 15,000 people took the chance to walk across the new southbound section of the viaduct on Sunday. — Photo: Richard Robinson.
An estimated 15,000 people took the chance to walk across the new southbound
section of the viaduct on Sunday. — Photo: Richard Robinson.


As well as closing the Southern Motorway's southbound lanes between Gillies Avenue and St Marks Road, the Transport Agency intends blocking three motorway on-ramps — at Hobson Street, Symonds Street and Khyber Pass Road — to reduce the volume of traffic having to follow a controversial detour route through Newmarket.

Long-distance travellers are urged to use the western ring route between Albany and South Auckland, which has had its capacity boosted by a duplicate Mangere bridge and the opening last weekend of a direct motorway-to-motorway link between State Highways 20 and 1 at Manukau.

But the Newmarket Business Association is upset that a two-lane clearway through Mortimer Pass and Broadway will be created during the motorway closure, with capacity to carry 2000 vehicles an hour, compared with normal peak southbound Sunday flow over the viaduct of about 4300.

The agency hopes the detour route will keep motorway traffic far enough south for shoppers and families celebrating Father's Day to use the main part of Broadway.

Although Newmarket retailers are critical of the timing of the closure, which is needed to switch motorway traffic to a new southbound carriageway as part of a $215 million viaduct replacement project, the agency says delaying it until the following weekend would have clashed with the Auckland Home Show at Greenlane.

If it had closed the viaduct last weekend, there would have been no trains to provide alternative transport because of a shutdown of railway lines for maintenance and upgrade work.


______________________________________

WHAT'S ON THIS WEEKEND

  • NZ Secondary Schools Individual Cycling Championships, Friday until 5pm Sunday, Mount Wellington.

  • Through the Lens Photographic Exhibition, Motat, all weekend until 5pm Sunday.

  • Historic Couldrey House Open Day, Wenderholm Regional Park, Saturday and Sunday until 5pm.

  • Kai to Pie: Auckland on a Plate exhibition, Auckland Museum, all weekend until 5pm Sunday.

  • Provincial ITM Championship Rugby — North Harbour vs Waikato, North Harbour Stadium, Albany, 7.35pm.

  • Ben Clayton Trio, Muldoon's Irish Bar, Orewa, from 7pm Saturday.

  • Our House Dance Party, Alexandra Park, from 9pm Saturday.

  • XTERRA Auckland Trail Run Series, Shakespear Regional Park, 7am-3.30pm.

  • Grey Lynn Farmers Market, Grey Lynn, 8am-12pm.

  • Run Kids Series, Victor Eaves Park, Orewa, from 8am.

  • Coatesville Market, Father's Day Special, Coatesville Settlers Hall, from 10am.

  • Trolly Dolly Exhibition, Auckland Museum, all day Sunday.

  • World Press Photograph Exhibition, Smith & Caughey's Queen Street, until 5pm Sunday.

  • Big Clean Up and Dad's Day Out — Tui Glen Reserve, Henderson.

  • Provincial ITM Championship Rugby — Auckland vs Taranaki, Eden Park 2.35pm.

  • Silver Ferns vs Australia, Vector Arena, 4pm Sunday.

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« Reply #40 on: August 31, 2010, 09:58:22 pm »

Why stop at Newmarket?

You could head all the way out west. BTW There is next to nothing at Waitakere, Henderson isn much better and Swanson at least has a cafe.
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« Reply #41 on: September 01, 2010, 12:27:38 am »


This is the larger-than-life American showman organist Carlo Curley who is known as “The Pavarotti of the Organ”.



He begins an extensive tour of NZ at Hamilton on Friday evening, then on Saturday evening he will be giving the huge new Auckland Town Hall Pipe Organ what will probably be the biggest work-out the instrument will ever receive.

Carlo has been to NZ once before when he gave a concert in February 1997 playing the Wellington Town Hall Organ and during that concert he actually managed to run the instrument out of wind....the wind reservoirs simply couldn't keep up with the demands of what he was playing — something people would previously have thought impossible given the huge wind supply that organ has.

It will be interesting to see how the wind system of the new Auckland Town Hall Organ stands up to the thrashing it is no doubt going to receive on Saturday night when Carlo is let loose on the instrument.
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« Reply #42 on: September 22, 2010, 03:07:55 pm »


Rail link puts fun back into getting to school

By MATTHEW DEARNALEY - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Leah Robinson with her young family Noah (7, left) Eva-Rae (12) and 4-year-old twins Will (front) and Jude on the 8.15am train from Onehunga that left from the newly opened platform yesterday. — Photo: Greg Bowker.
Leah Robinson with her young family Noah (7, left) Eva-Rae (12) and 4-year-old twins
Will (front) and Jude on the 8.15am train from Onehunga that left from the newly
opened platform yesterday. — Photo: Greg Bowker.


LEAH ROBINSON's young sons leaped out of bed yesterday morning when offered a choice between travelling by car on congested roads or by train along Onehunga's resurrected branch railway line.

"I told them if there's any mucking around, we'll go by car," said Ms Robinson.

But that was no more than a parental ruse as Ms Robinson said she was sick of spending an hour and a half in morning traffic driving her four children in a circuit from home in Te Papapa to schools and a kindergarten in Ellerslie and Remuera.

"It's just horrible," she said of congestion normally at its worst around Greenlane, which has become just a nine-minute train ride from Te Papapa after the introduction of the new rail service at the weekend.

The family's ordeal by car involved dropping off 12-year-old daughter Eva-Rae at Remuera Intermediate School for an 8.30am start, and then on three days a week driving 4-year-old twin sons Will and Jude to a kindergarten over the ridge in Victoria Avenue, before looping back to 7-year-old Noah's primary school in Ellerslie.

Yesterday was a day off for the twins, who will start school in Ellerslie next term, so Ms Robinson got off the train with them and Noah after a six-minute trip to that suburb's railway station while Eva-Rae stayed on board until Greenlane.

The 3km branch line between Onehunga and Penrose has cost KiwiRail $10 million and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority $3.6 million to resurrect with three stations. Auckland Regional Council also spent about $8 million to buy the site for the Onehunga station near the bottom of Onehunga Mall.

Although Saturday saw the formal re-opening of the line, the new service settled into a workaday routine yesterday. The Herald counted 19 passengers boarding the 7.45am Britomart-bound train at Onehunga, including three high-school students looking forward to halving the 45 minutes or so it used to take them to catch a bus to Newmarket.

St Peter's College students Griegen Schwenke, Lenny Hayne and Leitham Motio'o — all aged 15 — were also pleased that their two-stage train fare of $1.70 would be less than the $1.90 on the bus.

A smaller group of 10 passengers caught the next train from Onehunga, at 8.15am, although they were joined by 10 others at Te Papapa station.

Events manager Marion Stables was disappointed more commuters had yet to change their travel habits to take advantage of the service, but was confident it would do wonders for Onehunga as its popularity grew.

Campaign for Better Transport spokesman Jon Reeves, whose organisation has worked since 2002 with Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee to reintroduce trains to Onehunga, said he believed numbers would pick up and build momentum to extend the line to the airport.

Mr Lee said the airport was just nine kilometres from Onehunga compared with a distance of 14km from there to Britomart.

"I can't see any good reason why we shouldn't push on and extend rail across the new rail-capable [duplicated] Manukau Harbour crossing."

Onehunga Business Association general manager Amanda Kinzett predicted an increase in patronage once a park and ride zone opens at Onehunga station on Monday with 60 vehicle spaces and CCTV security.


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« Reply #43 on: September 22, 2010, 03:16:04 pm »





Now these kids will be able to tell their kids what they used to get up to in the school train 
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« Reply #44 on: September 22, 2010, 03:43:21 pm »


If you dig way back into the bowels of history, you will discover that the Onehunga branch railway line used to thrive until the Auckland City Tramways built a tram line from the bottom of Queen Street to Onehunga Wharf and opened it in about 1902. All of a sudden, the bottom dropped out of the passenger market on the Onehunga railway with the result that the government of the day passed a piece of legislation that banned any city or town from constructing a tramway that ran parallel to a railway line. As a result, the Wellington City Council were blocked from extending their tram lines from the Thorndon Terminus (which was already in place before the new law was enacted) along Thorndon Quay and Hutt Road to Kaiwharawhara. The Wellington City Council got around that by beginning a trackless-tram service (what we know today as an electric trolley bus) in 1924 between the Thorndon tram terminus and Kaiwharawhara as a way of getting around the law.

No.1 Trolley Bus

Note the building in the background of the photograph on that webpage. It is the Tramways Building where the Wellington City Corporation Tramways had their head office. About fifteen years ago, the building was purchased by the NZ Rail & Maritime Transport Union (the union I'm a member of), who demolished the actual building (it was too far gone structurally and wasn't worth saving) but kept the historic facade and built a new building behind it, and that is our union's head office. It is on the corner of Lambton Quay and Mulgrave Street within spitting distance of the historic Thistle Inn pub where Te Rauparaha used to occasionally turn up and down a few whiskeys (leaving his canoe on the adjacent beach). As well as the union, an insurance company occupies part of the building (as a tennant), plus a number of lawyers also have their chambers in the building. The union did a deal with those lawyers and in return for an annual retainer and free rent for their chambers, the union has first call on their services with no fee being paid apart from court costs and any additional incidental expenses. It's a bloody good working arrangement!
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« Reply #45 on: September 24, 2010, 11:51:21 pm »


Kind words at Auckland City Council's last meeting

By WAYNE THOMPSON - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Friday, September 24, 2010

John Banks was in a gentle mood at last night's meeting. — Photo: Dean Purcell.
John Banks was in a gentle mood at last
night's meeting. — Photo: Dean Purcell.


WITH A MIXTURE of moves aimed at soothing residents' fears — and winning votes — New Zealand's largest local authority last night held its last full meeting before becoming the core of a Super City.

Mayor John Banks said early on that the last meeting after 138 years of the Auckland City Council would not extend to in-depth debate about dog control on Waiheke Island.

But he did recognise that the night was the 70th birthday of Bill Christian, one of the six councillors who are not standing for the new Auckland Council in next month's election.

Mr Christian later returned the compliment in his valedictory speech.

He said that when he came on to the council in 1989, he held Mayor Dame Catherine Tizard in awe.

Her successor, Les Mills, "helped me stay alive" by keeping his weight down through workouts at Les Mills World of Fitness gym.

Then came Christine Fletcher, "a joy to behold" and a "great lady", and then Mr Banks began his first term as mayor in 2001. He was a "breath of fresh air" with a "little pugnacious go get 'em about you".

Then Dick Hubbard upset Mr Banks. "He had his own way of thinking and he was a good guy. And then, John, you came back and beat Dick."

Deputy Mayor David Hay, who is also retiring, was fulsome in his praise for Mr Banks and led a vote of thanks by applause.

"Congratulations for taking on the challenge of this mayoralty. It's not going to be easy; whoever is there is going to be challenged."

There was applause too for council chief executive David Rankin, who has no role in the new Super City set-up.

Mr Rankin said the council's priority during his more than five years was improving consistency and quality of customer service.

He estimated that the average cost to the customer for a resource consent in the past decade had been reduced by 20 per cent.

Mr Banks was in a gentle, good-natured mood for what perhaps is the last time he will wear the city's mayoral chains, should challenger Len Brown deny him his dream role.

Mr Banks is one of only two mayors of the city who have made a comeback after election defeat.

The other was Sir Dove-Myer Robinson (1959-1965 and 1968-1980), who was the longest-serving mayor.

The first full meeting of the Auckland City (Borough) Council was on May 29, 1871, and it struck its first rate (1 shilling in the pound) on August 31 that year. The first mayor (elected by councillors) was P.A. Philips.

As from November 01, council services will be provided by the new Auckland Council, with headquarters at Auckland Town Hall.

However, the eight councils merging into the Super City already co-operate for most frequently used services. These include liquor licensing, building control and resource consent applications.


______________________________________

LANDMARKS

Auckland City Council highlights:


  • 2450 fulltime-equivalent staff, a balance sheet of $9 billion, operating budget of $650 million, annual capital spend of $450 million.

  • Longest serving mayor: Sir Dove-Myer Robinson (18 years).

  • He and John Banks were the only mayors to regain office after defeat.

  • Dame Catherine Tizard was both the first woman mayor and the only Labour Party mayor.

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« Reply #46 on: November 01, 2010, 12:33:04 pm »


Plumbing the Depths!

Sideswipe: Plumbing the depths

By ANA SAMWAYS - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Monday, November 01, 2010

Drain Unblocking

JULIA DOAK couldn't help but notice this plumber in Takanini.

"A complete stranger spotted me taking the photo," she says.

"He too felt it worthy of Sideswipe!"


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« Reply #47 on: November 02, 2010, 04:47:43 pm »


New Super City officially begins

NZPA | 9:00AM - Monday, November 01, 2010

Takutai Wikiriwhi, along with other Maori elders, giving prayers and speeches early this morning at the dawn blessing of Aotea Square. — Photo: Steven McNicholl.
Takutai Wikiriwhi, along with other Maori elders, giving prayers and speeches early
this morning at the dawn blessing of Aotea Square. — Photo: Steven McNicholl.


THE NEW AUCKLAND COUNCIL was blessed by iwi at a ceremony in Aotea Square this morning, officially signalling the transformation of eight territorial councils into one "super city".

The council will hold its inaugural meeting tonight, with new Mayor Len Brown and 20 councillors being sworn sworn into office at the Auckland Town Hall.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said the new council had been streamlined to ensure the most efficient use of ratepayers' funds, and there would be immediate benefits to many residents.

"From today, there is a 13 per cent staffing reduction — saving ratepayers $66.5m in annual salaries. By the end of the transition period — July 01, 2012 — this will increase to 16 per cent, or a $91 million annual saving. Roughly half of the reduction has been by natural attrition, minimising the burden of redundancy payments."

Auckland was now set up to be the "world-class city and economic powerhouse" that New Zealand wanted it to be, Mr Hide said.

"The Government has done its part. Now it's over to the new Mayor Len Brown, and his team, to take control and build a brighter future for Auckland."

Mr Brown was voted in as the area's mayor on October 09, beating his rival John Banks by 60,000 votes.

He said he was excited about his first day in the top seat with his new council, but realised the reality of the challenges ahead and said the change was necessary.

"I know there's either concern or interest from local government around New Zealand and other councils about whether or not they ought to be contemplating amalgamation, but I think it's really important — and I think other New Zealanders really got this — that Auckland is a bit of a unique case."

He said that was Auckland was home to 35 per cent of the population, while the next biggest city was home to about 10 per cent.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684491



New era begins with Super City swearing in

NZ Herald Staff and NZPA | 7:28PM - Monday, November 01, 2010

Mayor Len Brown enters the Auckland Town Hall for the inaugural meeting of the new Auckland Council this evening. — Photo: NZPA.
Mayor Len Brown enters the Auckland Town Hall for the inaugural meeting of
the new Auckland Council this evening. — Photo: NZPA.


THE MAYOR and 20 councillors who will lead the inaugural Super City administration are being sworn in at Auckland's Town Hall this evening.

The ceremony will include performances from a full orchestra and a choir, as well as blessings from kaumatua and Mr Brown's first official speech as mayor.

And, according to 3 News, the slogan that the mayor-elect believes encapsulates his approach to his new job is "Yes, do that".

Speaking this afternoon, Mr Brown told 3 News that his first day had been a long one.

"I feel like I have had a whole of work already. It's strange to turn up to your first day in the office at 7am."

Although enjoying the day's festivities, Brown stressed he had been working hard to ensure his term as mayor starts off on the right foot.

"I've been dong everything I can to lift this machine up and propel I forward," he told 3 News.

Earlier today, Prime Minister John Key said the new council's first meeting tonight is an opportunity for a fresh start.

Mr Key is attending the meeting and told reporters it was a very important day for the city.

"We have delivered a framework that can deliver opportunity and speed of decision making," he said.

"That's got to be a good thing and I'm sure a lot of people in Auckland tonight will be celebrating."

The new council was blessed by iwi at a ceremony in Aotea Square this morning, officially signalling the transformation of eight territorial councils into one "super city".

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said the new council had been streamlined to ensure the most efficient use of ratepayers' funds, and there would be immediate benefits to many residents.

"From today, there is a 13 per cent staffing reduction — saving ratepayers $66.5m in annual salaries. By the end of the transition period — July 01, 2012 — this will increase to 16 per cent, or a $91 million annual saving. Roughly half of the reduction has been by natural attrition, minimising the burden of redundancy payments."

Auckland was now set up to be the "world-class city and economic powerhouse" that New Zealand wanted it to be, Mr Hide said.

"The Government has done its part. Now it's over to the new Mayor Len Brown, and his team, to take control and build a brighter future for Auckland."

Mr Brown was voted in as the area's mayor on October 09, beating his rival John Banks by 60,000 votes.

He said he was excited about his first day in the top seat with his new council, but realised the reality of the challenges ahead and said the change was necessary.

"I know there's either concern or interest from local government around New Zealand and other councils about whether or not they ought to be contemplating amalgamation, but I think it's really important — and I think other New Zealanders really got this — that Auckland is a bit of a unique case."

He said that was Auckland was home to 35 per cent of the population, while the next biggest city was home to about 10 per cent.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684621
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« Reply #48 on: November 02, 2010, 04:48:30 pm »


Mayor pledges to build world's most liveable city

By BERNARD ORSMAN - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Len Brown promises that the people of Auckland will know why decisions are being made and how their money is spent. — Photo: Richard Robinson.
Len Brown promises that the people of Auckland will know why decisions are being
made and how their money is spent. — Photo: Richard Robinson.


LEN BROWN set out last night to transform Auckland into the world's most liveable city after being sworn in as the first mayor of the Super City.

In a speech before 1200 guests in the Town Hall, Mr Brown outlined a vision for an inclusive and united Auckland with a strategy and map of action for the future.

He reiterated the vision and policies of his election campaign to fix the region's transport system, turn Auckland into an eco-city and be cautious on rates.

"I said I was determined to get Auckland moving, and by an overwhelming majority, the voters of Tamaki Makaurau said, ‘Yes, do that’," he said.

"There will be a cost. But we will do it. We are not going to postpone, again, this crucial work for a future generation to deal with."

A central-city rail loop, rail to the airport and rail to the North Shore are his three transport priorities.

The inaugural meeting of the Auckland Council was a ceremonial occasion that began with a powhiri by the iwi of Auckland, including a message from Dr Takutai Wikiriwhi, the Ratana minister at Orakei Marae: "The tui joins us in spirit, in mind and in body of a unified city."

Maurice Wilson, a Tainui kaumatua, presented Mr Brown with a taiaha (a long wooden weapon) as a koha, or gift.

There were also performances by Auckland City organist Dr John Wells and the New Zealand Graduate Choir and the premiere by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra of Fanfare for Auckland, composed by the APO's composer-in-residence, John Psathas.

The first formal business occurred when chief executive Doug McKay swore in Mr Brown as mayor.

After a 15-minute speech from Mr Brown, the 20 councillors were sworn in. They will make their maiden speeches today and tomorrow, after last night's inaugural meeting was adjourned.

Mr Brown, whose campaign slogan was to be a "mayor for all of Auckland", said he wanted a city of proud local communities, secure in their local identities and their place as part of a metropolitan powerhouse.

"We cannot be divided. We — the council, the local boards and the council-owned companies — must pull together for the common cause of creating a truly great city."

He spoke about the economic opportunities for Auckland, including a world-class convention centre, a modern cruise-ship terminal, Auckland being like San Francisco as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurial activity and "our job to build on the assets we have, not sell them".

At a time when many people were experiencing economic hardship, Mr Brown said the last thing they needed was higher rates bills.

"We do not yet know what the full cost of this amalgamation has been and the bills your council faces as a result of it."

"I promise to open the books and make sure this council's finances are transparent, so the people of Auckland will know where the cost pressures are coming from, why decisions are being made and how their money is spent."

Looking ahead, Mr Brown said he would be rolling out 100 key uniting projects over the coming months, the first of which would be instructing the transport council-controlled organisation to get a designation for rail to the airport.

Wearing a Maori feather cloak — there are no mayoral robes or chains at this stage — Mr Brown finished by leading the singing for a waiata, Te Aroha.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684693



Mixed feelings for councillors at ceremony

By AMELIA WADE - The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Penny Hulse. — Photo: The Aucklander.
Penny Hulse. — Photo: The Aucklander.

THE swearing-in ceremony of the new Auckland mayor and councillors was met with mixed emotions.

The 20 councillors of the new Auckland Council gathered in a side room in the Auckland Town Hall before the ceremony eagerly awaiting their swearing-in.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse sighed when asked how she was feeling about the ceremony but said it was time the council got started.

She is the Waitakere ward councillor and had various roles in the former Waitakere City Council for more than 15 years.

"To be honest, it is mixed feelings. I'm still getting over the shift from Waitakere to Auckland but it's just an amazing experience tonight."

Franklin ward councillor Des Morrison said the ceremony marked one of the biggest moments in Auckland's history.

"This is the biggest thing that's happened since about 1887, isn't it? Since Auckland was first born."

He hoped he would be able to keep the identity of the rural areas of Auckland, but was realistic that change will happen.

"I think you've got to be realistic and there is going to be some growth, but we're looking to make sure it's staged and managed and compatible with the rural areas."

Richard Northey has been involved in politics for more than 25 years, but said his role as Maungakiekie-Tamaki ward councillor was his most exciting.

"It's probably the most exciting because we're creating something new. It's something new to New Zealand and in some ways it's something new to the world and I find that challenge really exciting."

Jami-Lee Ross, Howick ward councillor, is the youngest councillor at 24.

He said his new position was very different from his previous role as a Manukau City councillor. "It's a big step up from the Manukau City Council ... The stakes have risen considerably."

Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor Calum Penrose, former Mayor of Papakura, previously objected to the formation of the Super City but now does not think Papakura will lose its identity.

"I think nothing will change at its heart. It will be things as usual, but it's going to be better. It's going to be great."


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« Reply #49 on: November 02, 2010, 04:49:20 pm »


They're off, but 3˝ hours later ...

Brian Rudman on Auckland

The New Zealand Herald | 5:30AM - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Many “only in multicultural Auckland” moments made it memorable. — Photo: Richard Robinson.
Many “only in multicultural Auckland” moments
made it memorable. — Photo: Richard Robinson.


I'M ALL FOR a bit of ceremony, but 3 hours to officially open the inaugural meeting of the Auckland Council? That's time enough to crown the Queen of England, inaugurate an American President and bury an unknown warrior. Where was the timekeeper with a hooter when you needed him?

City organist John Wells would have been the perfect candidate, seated as he was, splendiferous in his academic cape and gown, at his grunty new sound blaster. Still, boys with new toys and all that. There was no stopping him either. Was it his tongue-in-cheek decision to see councillors out of the hall to that popular wedding march, Widor's infamous Toccata?

Mayor Len Brown had insisted he didn't want anything "dirgy", so Dr Wells obliged, serenading guests into the hall with a potpourri of cheery tunes, everything from the Monty Python theme tune to the entry of the Queen of Sheba. Then came the powhiri.

Any hopes that the Maori elders, having presided over a dawn blessing many hours before, might have been eager for any early night were quickly dashed.

They must have had a siesta. They did have a signer for the deaf in the audience, but one sentence of English screened overhead for each 10-minute burst of te reo was rather basic. Still, later on we were all in the same boat, when the Graduate Choir entertained us to a German song by Brahms.

There were many such "only in multicultural Auckland" moments. Such as when Mayor Brown and his deputy, Penny Hulse, both resplendent in feather cloaks, were shown to their places on the stage by the Maori "protocol officer".

The mayor was shown to the prime spot in the front row, but Penny Hulse, being a female, was firmly shown — was that a moment of protest from her? — into the row behind, with the other womenfolk.

There was much talk from everyone from Prime Minister John Key down of how unifying the new one-council reorganisation would be in bringing Auckland's diverse communities together.

The choir — at least a third of whom were of Maori or Pacific Island descent, and switching from a Samoan village song to an English coronation anthem — showed that process is already well under way.

The mayor, a legendary vocalist, couldn't resist bursting forth with a waiata about, he said, love trust and honour.

Before he opened his mouth, the choir, most of the councillors and the audience were on their feet joining in harmony. If he can only keep everyone singing his tune in the months to come, he's made.

It wasn't all touchy feely by any means. In a strong speech, he stuck to his commitment to public transport, particularly rail to the airport and North Shore.

Wisely, he backed away from the "100 key projects in 100 days" pledge made in the immediate post-election euphoria. Indeed he's down to one, and that's getting designations in place for airport rail.

Could I suggest just one more: to buy an official egg-timer. The thought of council meetings dragging on this long is a worry.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684714
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If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 

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