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Ideas from 12 April 2021 Pukete Neighbourhood House Workshop

Active Citizenship

Who would own local government commitment? makes sense for DIA to be involved.

The Productivity Commission is relevant too. Look at their inquiry into local government funding. They found most staff didn’t have the necessary expertise. Where do the findings of this report fit in? Catalyst to move on things like Three waters, Planning for successful cities.

Democracy is what puts councillors in there. Our participation as ordinary citizens is hard because where are we expected to go? When we do give feedback they play with it and change it around.

Information is given to local government but if the employees decide they don’t want it, it doesn’t get done.

The biggest change would be to review the Local Government Act 2002 standing orders.

At the moment the CEO sets the agenda, and every agenda needs a staff report. They can just paint a picture of what they want.

Take housing, they can write reports to fit the agenda. Look to Future Proof and Smart Growth methods, the planners control everything and in the US, the places that have implemented these methods have a housing crisis. Look at the book American Nightmare about government undermining home ownership.

There’s just too much information out there, truly the information age. When you’re up to your ass in alligators, you forget that your original intent was to drain the swamp.

I have sympathy with politicians and staff. Lose sight of whats important. People appealed to Donald Trump because he said lets drain the swamp.

Edward T – former secretary of state said the very best of brains were needed to be attracted to the public service, not state.

Received an internal email between with Ministry and contractors saying the Ministry should ignore their lack of compliance. Ministry advised councillors they were potentially breaking the law and the OIA said information wasn’t passed on. If you can’t go to councillors and CE who do you go to? In a perfect world the Minister would go back to the council and say please explain. This is why people aren’t voting or engaging.

Money is allocated, goes into a hole, nothing happens? Information disappears and there’s no accountability.

Why does the Public Service Act not apply to local government, it should. Question – what happens if someone does something in conflict with the Public Service Act?

If council hasn’t followed the internal process they can only be chucked out at the next election. You can’t fire an elected member.

Senior official contracts should be tied with electoral contracts so they can be replaced with new thinking.

Village boards – kids could participate as could new immigrants. Adult community education is needed. Otherwise you have youth aspiring and adults resisting. Need to look at how to keep conversations consistent.

Currently, surveys by council ask questions but never say the cost involved? Monetary and labour. How do you know what the trade offs are? Or questions like would you like a swimming pool at spot A or B? What if you don’t want one.

For council surveys they already know where they want to end up, that’s the general feeling.  Ignore unless submitters are alongside the vein of what they already want.

Integrated thinking is needed. Think global, act local. Think about board of trustees. Our demographic structures don’t go far enough into flax roots. It should start at primary school. Have a neighbourhood group that discuss transport etc then feed into local council. Not just the community board model, community board as well as this level. Need more village democracy. This model requires legal legitimacy or they’ll get ignored.

We need 4 layers. Central, regional, local and village. Take some learnings from the supercity who at least have effective community boards which have clout.

Regional Parliaments

Advertorial council engagement currently. Telling people what will happen, not asking.

Cross sector model is better – you wouldn’t let a councillor design a road, but you wouldn’t let an engineer just do it too.

In ancient Greece they would have 8000 for a citizens assembly. Have agenda items and get the group around the table. It’s all very well to gather people but people get lost if they’re not given the knowledge base. People can’t struggle through 1000 pages 4 days in advance.

Who stands to gain from a swimming pool in a specific location for example, those people won’t get a special rate to pay for it, everyone has to.

Council has a template. Central government required wellbeing. Reports ended up with cliches even though its an ancient thing. No one knows what the criteria is. Eg: Claudelands in 2007 was supposed to cost 35 million then it was 68 million, extended scope, forgot air con etc. Costing the tax payer millions. Even though the company looking after Claudelands has changed, no staff have been made redundant. Or the Wairere bridge that went from 39 million to 50 million, no explanation.

How can you encourage integrated thinking? There’s a silo mentality of everyone just protecting their patch in local and central government.

We should have a local representative of all the govt agencies, which they do in France.

Like the old postmaster. Central govt at local level. Remove silos. Pukete Community House interacting with central govt. Need more regional representative of govt.

We used to be more entrepreneurial, we’ve lost some ability to innovate. We don’t want the same engineers doing it who resist change. For example, theres 1 sewage system in Hamilton. Why would they tax people now when they won’t be running in a year. So the current council will leave it to the next to replace when its dire.

The system is too cumbersome. Local government also blames central government for all problems. In the current 10 year plan there’s a special government compliance rate then a general rate. Particularly three waters.

People out in the communities are most affected by central government decision but can’t be here. How do you remove barriers? Many have no time.

Consultation and surveys are often designed in a way where they’re not actually seeking feedback.

Citizens assemblies have a task. Look at Rush 1988/89 – citizens came up with suggestions that were snubbed a third time by politicians.

Budgets need to be understandable. They’re consistently changing formats which isn’t good. You need plain English. People have no way to contribute and no control over it.

The general estimate process is really bad.

There needs to be advisors for the community boards. It’s impossible for the boards to change the democratic process at all if they don’t have the skills to do it. Board of advisors could be leaders in their own field, community leaders that provide that knowledge base for those community discussion. Juries ish. Groups of 5 people, fee free. Less corruption. Almost like a Directors Institute model. Self nominate with your CV. Council choose the people. You’re then giving people a job to do, engaging people and sharing their skills needed to make informed decisions.

What the community is talking about over a cup of tea isn’t what the town hall is talking about.

Cycle ways designed by engineers not children who use them. Business community know that stuff wont work well too but they’re too scared to say and lose council contracts. Particularly builders and architects.

Permits for example need to be approved in 20 days but if the council requires more information they can hold for 3 or 4 months on day 19 or 20 by asking for more information. How many are put on hold at the first step?

There are new laws going through New Zealand at a very fast rate. We probably need half the amount. The amount of red tape is absurd. Let Māori build on their own land. They can’t because of banks. They should have funding organisation, housing corporation for Māori.

For housing there is a big is cheaper issue. We need more villages. Not asphalt parks and sausage flat. Need PPP, public, private, philantropic. Rent to buy and papa kāinga. Not new ideas. Many people want rest homes, no one owns their own increasingly.

Kiwi ingenuity is all but going. Need future thinking while learning from the past. Simple stuff like never build a house with a flat roof, apply that to government.

We have NIWA expert right here in Hamilton in innovation around sewage yet we have three waters ignoring that. Coul dbe solar, enable real green intergenerational outcomes.


Secret meetingss occur where council meets suppliers. Private developer agreements shouldn’t exist. Theres 40. !5 years ago there weren’t any now all confidentiality agreements. Circumvent law with RMA. Slippery slope for corruption. Public money should no tbe camoflagued.  You don’t know if developer A is subsidised by developer B or ratepayers.

Complaints are tricky and often go nowhere. Many can’t afford lawyer. Need judicial system to demystify. Can there be a local body ombudsman who could hole grievance hearings?

Would be good to see regional caucasing. More effective amalgamation of elected repreentatives. Regional forums would be great. Cross party regional caucases. Local list MPS can be more invovled.

Building on that, an intersectional summit with representative heads in the region with local and central presence. Working on how we fix poverty etc togather. Working together for the public good.

We’ve seen the effects of trickle down economics, Department of enlightenment and propoganda. In the council officestheres a customer service entry but we’re not customers we’re citizens, shareholders. Managerialism has infiltrated the public sector. Theres a uge sense of separateness where our city hall and government is something but it’s not about us. It needs to be for us with us.

Many citizens don’t see government apart from things like IRD, the next level of interaction is local government

Members of parliament seem like messenger boys unless they’re in cabinet.

Chief Archivist needs to give a letter of confirmation before they delete official information. Do people know this to hold councils to account when they claim they can’t give you some information?

Need a local government ombudsman, a retired judge would be great.

Clarity of process is sought so the buck stops somewhere.

There is no trust – because how do things increase by millions of dollars without a clear reason.


Government acts as a spin doctor or advertorial. Consultation designed to achieve their outcome.

Whats the penalty if you don’t do it properly? Slap on wrist, not penalty. Fire don’t fine for things such as ignore our lack of compliance. Need public exposure at a point.  Government will pay fine? No taxpayer does.

There is a separateness – our city hall, government, is not about us, for us, with us.

Citizens don’t see government apart from IRD. The next level is through local government.

There is a vast group queueing outside to get a food parcel. Countless motels in Hamilton are for the homeless now, where is government activity to address the root problems. We need more effective engagement, we’re a small enough country. Test innovative ideas.

Start with small ideas like to get a train going, put a passenger carriage on the back of each freight train. Big or small ideas can be innovative and make a difference. There was a survey on trains which said a trial in 5 or 10 years? Couldn’t say the cost to ratepayers, diesel carbon emissions? Then there’s no option for no trains.

There are communities bubbling with ideas but they aren’t heard. Convert global ideas to local conditions. For example, high school students working on a e-vehicle then someone like John Gallagher can make the best of those ideas a reality.

Can there be regular 1 page reports on every place in NZ – just with key metrics.

You should have dedicated sessions with Māori on open government and involve Te Puni Kōkiri regionally.