Auckland super city begins
Auckland's new amalgamated council marks a new era in local government and a new beginning for Auckland, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says.
Auckland Council will hold its inaugural meeting today after ceremonies that will start at daybreak with a dawn blessing at Aotea Square, led by Maori elders.
Mr Brown and 20 councillors, elected from the greater Auckland area, will later be sworn into office at the Auckland Town Hall, after a powhiri at 6pm at Aotea Square.
Interim chief executive Doug McKay will then swear in Mr Brown as the first mayor of the new combined Auckland council.
Prime Minister John Key and Mr Hide will also speak at the meeting.
Mr Hide said that from today, Aucklanders will have one mayor, one council and one united voice.
"A new Auckland that residents can be proud of."
The combined council replaces councils from eight separate areas in and around Auckland city.
"The new council has been streamlined to ensure the most efficient use of ratepayers' funds, " Mr Hide said.
"From today, there is a 13 percent staffing reduction - saving ratepayers $66.5m in annual salaries. By the end of the transition period - July 1 2012 - this will increase to 16 percent, 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, he 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 9, beating his rival John Banks by a massive 60,000 votes.
He told NZPA his first day in the top seat with his new council would be "hugely exciting and energising, with one or two fairly large dollops of reality around it in terms of the challenge".
One of the toughest challenges was going to be connecting the community since the election and make sure they could see the benefits of the change.
During his campaign Mr Brown emphasised the need for an improved inner city rail network, and he said that would be a priority for the council to get started on.
Next year's Rugby World Cup preparation was also high on the council's agenda.
"I really want Auckland to be totally focussed on shining our streets, our townships, our whole sense of civic pride and presenting ourselves to New Zealand and to the world as a true international city and making sure things will be well in line for being marvellous friendly hosts to the world."
He said the structure of the amalgamated council was unique in the country.
"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.
"There's no other western country, western democracy in the world that has a demographic like New Zealand's where 35 percent of the population lives in one city and then the next biggest city is only about 10 percent."
Mr Brown said he would encourage other councils to "take a deep breath" and watch how they go.
source: newshub archive