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Vol 48 No 06

June 2012

New Zealand Local Government

MAKING TOWNS AND CITIES WORK FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES sydenham and lyttelton post-earthquake master plans.

Lessons from history on LG restructuring

Fighting the good fight on air pollution

How the ‘trip to the dump' is forever changed




New zealand local government

AGENDA June 2012 NZLG INSIGHT  hart-topping councils 3C

Which councils are most in debt?

4 Energy efficiency rewarded

6 Selwyn proves a savvy planner

Two councils win big in the EECA Awards

Planning Institute awards buoy council staff


9 Fighting against air pollution

Poor air quality can affect the health of all of us

10 Tokoroa breaches air quality limits

National regulations will be applied to the town

11 Wood is good says EECA

Burning firewood isn’t such a bad thing

12 Clean-burning fires essential

Council urges switch to more efficient fires

13 Quality monitoring needs care

Getting correct results can be challenging


14 New Zealand’s battle

16 Preparing Auckland for a

Floods are the most frequent natural hazard councils face

Auckland Council is tussling with the problem of business continuity

against flooding

15 Flood defence for The Valley

New Plymouth protects one of its most popular retail centres


18 Milton’s flood-risk

management strategy

Five years of planning launches a joint strategy for two southern councils

17 Affordable flood hazard protection

River gravel management a big issue for Environment Canterbury


23 Waste management a critical issue

A ‘trip to the dump’ is not as bad as it once was

24 Taking ‘waste’ out of waste

Doing more with less is not just a corporate cliché

25 ETS and the municipal dump

Councils need to understand the rules and costs


29 Decisions needed

despite hazy future

For contractors, life is not getting any easier

30 Tribute for outgoing LAPA president

Looking back at some of the most turbulent years

31 Selling off the family silver

Council asset sales to help pay for new infrastructure


Lessons from history Wouldn’t you just know it — that it would be Dunedin that reminds us that local government history in this country definitely repeats. It was Dunedin’s newspaper which recently ran an article from its archives, demonstrating that there’s nothing new about the latest re-organisation of local government in New Zealand. In a wonderful article in the Otago Daily Times, words first read by our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers had a very familiar ring about them. “In the opinion of the Government, the time has arrived and is opportune to deal with the question of the simplification of the local government of New Zealand.” That statement, the OTD reported, was made 100 years ago when the Hon. G. W. Russell (Minister of Internal Affairs) opened his speech to the meeting of delegates of local bodies held in Dunedin. “At the present time there are no less than 124 counties, 113 boroughs, 60 town districts, 149 road districts, 41 river districts, 43 harbour boards, 13 education districts, 42 land drainage districts, and 37 hospital districts in existence, making a total of 622 local government districts. “In the scheme which is now before the country the Government proposes to materially reduce the number of local governing bodies by increasing the areas and enlarging the functions of the local bodies proposed to be set up.” And so what happened next? Well, inevitably a committee was set up to discuss the provisions of a Bill to be introduced to Parliament. But let’s consider this again. Those comments were made one hundred years ago – one hundred years before ‘Better Local Government’ was released; one hundred years before minister Nick Smith said enough is enough, we have to change local government because there is too much borrowing, too many big increases in rates, and too much concentration on matters which are the realm of central government. History repeats – it’s an often-quoted phrase – and it’s true. But 100 years back in time there was ample evidence that change was necessary. The Land of the Long White Cloud really isn’t all that long at all, and a total of 622 local government districts does seem excessive, even at a time when air travel, paved highways, the internet and mobile telephones weren’t even dreamt of. But what separates the call for local government reform 100 years ago and the latest shakeup under the National-led Government’s ‘Better Local Government’ initiative, are the underlying rationales of both attempts at reform. The 1912 proposal was a plainly sensible attempt to streamline a vastly overreaching local government structure in a small country at the bottom of the world. The 2012 plan however, is the result of a National-led Government deciding that the Labour-led initiatives that created the Local Government Act 2002 were a step much too far. Rightly or wrongly, it still seems bizarre that councils are now being criticised for actions taken under a Local Government Act which not only imposed on them the four wellbeings, but which saddled them with activities which were previously central government’s domain. In addition, the Government of the time made new demands on councils for significantly expensive infrastructure upgrades in areas such as water quality. Many of the councils which have gone into the red big-time, have been pushed that way at least in part by these infrastructure demands. The National-led Government needs to acknowledge that its ‘moral highground’ approach which seems to blame councils for higher rates, more borrowing and more spending is unfair. Sure, there are examples of decisions being made by councils that were just plain wrong, but no one could claim that all the debt and high rate rises are solely due to a profligate approach by local government over the past decade. Councils followed a path laid out in the 2002 Act. If that path is judged no longer suitable by this present Government, the politicians should at least have the courage to say – okay, we acknowledge that it wasn’t entirely the fault of local government politicians. It won’t make the looming path of reform and cost-cutting any easier, but it would be an honest path to take.



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Chart-topping councils star for all the wrong reasons There’s little good news for councils or ratepayers in the 2012 Local Government League Table compiled by economic analyst Larry N. Mitchell. Mr Mitchell says the LGLT uses financial and economic assessment ratios closely allied to measures that by law will soon be introduced for all councils, relating to their financial management performance and public reporting. He says the 2012 League Table indicates little overall performance improvement in 2011-2012. “The metric measures have scarcely moved, from an average of 30 out of 50 last year to 29 out of 50 in 2012. The consistency of these results over the three or more years of the assessments, suggest a reliability and robustness of the methodology.” Mr Mitchell says the 2012 LGLT, covering all 67 New Zealand territorial local authorities, fits neatly within the timing of Government’s recent announcements of local government reforms.

“It also validates public concerns of some poor council performance. No council scores higher than 36 out of 50 for the financial and economic metricated measures of the LGLT.” The table reveals the bulk of New Zealand’s councils score only ‘fair’ results, with scores from 23 to 30 on the 50-point metric scale and are ranked in a range from 31st to 57th out of 67, compared to their peers. “Auckland Council has yet to provide meaningful public information on its financial performance improvement programmes,” Mr Mitchell says. “No useful Auckland Council comparisons with the pre-amalgamation financial and economic status of its seven predecessor councils has been provided, by which the Auckland Council’s comparative postamalgamation performance could be gauged.” The table lists ‘at risk’ councils – the ten poorest performers, whose statistics indicate a combination of

unsustainable council finances and/ or unaffordable rates or charges, include the Kaipara District. Mr Mitchell says that council’s difficulties are well known and in the table Kaipara is the biggest ‘downgrade’, dropping 49 places to 65th out of 67 for its metric results. It also receives a double red traffic light downgrade warning in the report. Hauraki and Upper Hutt councils have regressed compared with last year, with the latter having dropped 15 places to 58th despite recent announcements that the Mayor and council have declined their increased salaries. The two councils Mr Mitchell calls the ‘Southern Scots’ – Clutha and Southland Districts – have swapped the top two places at the head of the league table, compared to last year’s results. Two councils – Queenstown and Carterton – are the biggest improvers, both making the top 10 for the first time.

Kaipara feels the heat Kaipara District Council – which scored the biggest downgrade in the 2012 Local Government League Table – is getting the message from its ratepayers. More than 2000 people turned up to a public ‘community feedback’ meeting called by the council and ten other meetings also drew crowds. Consultation on the council’s Long Term Plan has now ended and chief executive Steve Ruru says public feedback “may mean” that there will be some significant changes when the plan is adopted. “While we don’t want to pre-empt any decisions council might make, ratepayers have made a number of messages very clear already,” he says. “There is concern about the overall increase in rates

which will affect most people one way or another, and we understand that. There are options available to reduce the level of rating increase in the short to medium term but these will mean we pay more in the long run so it will be a balancing act as we try to work out the best mix of affordability and economy overall. Deputy Mayor Julie Geange says some people have used the LTP process as an opportunity to “vent their frustration at what they consider to be poor decision-making and overspending in the past resulting in unacceptable rates increases”. Julie Geange says putting things right will be a lengthy process and “we need to find a financially sustainable pathway in the meantime”.




Dave Benham (chief executive GWRC), Fujitsu General NZ man aging direc tor Kim Naylor, Minister of Energy and Resources Phil Heatley, Debbie Meyrick (Warm Wellington programme co-o rdinator), Chris Gray (finance manager). The Award was sponsored by Fujitsu General NZ.

Energy innovation pays off Two councils have netted top awards at the 2012 EECA Awards — one for excellence in reducing its own energy use and one for making local homes more energy-efficient. New Plymouth District Council was co-winner of the Public Sector Award for an energy-management programme that has shaved $200,000 off its annual energy bill. Greater Wellington Regional Council won the Community Award for its rates top-up scheme that supplements government homeinsulation grants and allows homeowners to pay back the money over time through their rates bill. EECA chief executive Mike Underhill says while the councils’ approaches were vastly different, both demonstrated that by prioritising energy efficiency, the whole community could benefit. “Effective home insulation and clean heat makes an enormous difference to families’ health, wellbeing and energy bills. By



designing a financial mechanism to help people take up the Government assistance on offer, Greater Wellington has made a profound difference locally. It’s also having a far wider effect, as it’s now replicated in other regions. “Meanwhile, New Plymouth has meticulously managed its own energy use, including transport fuel — and is now benefitting from sizeable financial savings. This is a project that many other organisations, public and private sector, could emulate. Both councils have taken a strong lead on energy efficiency and it is local people in the long-term who are benefitting from their initiatives.” ‘Warm Greater Wellington’ offers ratepayers funding to top-up the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart grant. Homeowners repay the council over time through the rates bill, making the scheme cost-neutral, and encouraging greater take-up of

home insulation among people who couldn’t otherwise afford it. To date it’s helped insulate 3500 homes in the region. New Plymouth District Council has focused on managing energy since 2007, and brought an energy management expert in-house to drive its programme. Every major facility — civic centre, library, museum, aquatic centre right through to the waste water treatment plant — has had energy audits, resulting in improvements to lighting, heating, cooling and motor systems. Combined, the energy savings are worth $200,000 a year — funds that are helping keep rate rises down. Also recognised in the EECA Awards was Kapiti Coast District Council, taking a Highly Commended award for its renewable energy and energy management projects throughout the district.



Increased demand leads to more competition for skilled workers Skilled jobs will be the main drivers of employment growth over the next three years, and local government must adapt to an increased requirement for more highly trained employees. The latest Government estimates predict that over 200,000 new jobs will be created by 2015, with the unemployment rate expected to fall to just 4.1 per cent by 2016. The key drivers of this growth will be the higher skilled professions like technicians, and business and IT professionals. According to leading local recruitment company Kelly, adapting to this changing workforce will be a key challenge for local government in the years ahead. Kelly Managing Director Debbie Grenfell says that the demand for higher skilled employees will be driven by increased technological change. “As the use of information technology becomes more widespread and increasingly complex systems become more integrated into the day to day functioning of local government, you will see rising demand for employees who are highly trained and experienced.” “Understanding and adapting to this change will be important for local government organisations who

will need to ensure they are best placed to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by a more skilled workforce,” says Debbie Grenfell. Despite the expected rise in demand for skilled workers, the Government has identified a persistent skills shortage as an ongoing challenge for the New Zealand economy. The Tertiary Education Commission recently announced it will require Higher Education Institutions to work closely with local businesses and industry training organisations to identify current and future skill needs. “The message we see from moves like this is that there is a clear and identified skills shortage in New Zealand at the moment, and that this is only going to get more pronounced as demand for skilled workers increases,” said Debbie Grenfell. “For local governments, which may be competing against top private firms or central government for the best talent and staff, this will present problems. The real challenge will be for local

government to differentiate itself in the market place, and find ways to attract talent that might be able to find more favourable opportunities elsewhere,” said Debbie Grenfell. Debbie Grenfell says the key to remaining an attractive destination for highly skilled employees during a time when their services are in great demand is to understand what their motivations are when they are deciding between jobs. “Managing a period where there is a lot of competition for the best talent will be a matter of highlighting what it is that makes local government such an appealing place to work.” According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, an international survey of employees, New Zealand workers are far more likely to prize personal fulfillment, and work they find meaningful, over higher pay. New Zealand employees are also very community minded, and want to give back to their community. Local government is well placed to present a working environment with structured career progression that is incredibly attractive.




Savvy planning by Selwyn DC Selwyn District Council planning projects scooped the supreme award and two best practice awards at the recent New Zealand Planning Institute awards held in Blenheim. Plan Change 7 is designed to set new district plan rules and guidance for more houses and more housing types in Rolleston and Lincoln. It took top honours in the Nancy Northcroft Planning Practice Award and won a Best Practice Award, as did the Commercial Design Guide. The Best Practice Awards recognise projects in five different planning categories. The Nancy Northcroft Award is the New Zealand Planning Institute’s highest award for excellence in planning practice and recognises “outstanding creativity and innovation and the quality of the presentation of the project”. Consultants that assisted council staff were also acknowledged. Planit Associates shared the Supreme Award and Best Practice Award for Plan Change 7 and Context Urban Design shared the Best Practice Award for the Commercial Design Guide. The New Zealand Planning Institute commented that Plan Change 7 used “meaningful consultation and negotiation with affected landowners”. The Planning Institute was particularly impressed with the quality of the material and the presentation of Plan Change 7 and commented that the project “is at the forefront of planning practice in New Zealand”.

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The work on the Commercial Design Guide was described as “groundbreaking, particularly for small towns and suburbs in New Zealand”. Selwyn Mayor Kelvin Coe says the awards are “a fantastic reward for all the hard work that council staff and our consultants have put into these substantial projects”. Plan Change 7 has rezoned land to allow for 8800 households in Rolleston and Lincoln.

Councils in line for awards SOLGM has congratulated a number of councils named finalists in the 2012 IPANZ Public Sector Excellence Awards. Greater Wellington Regional Council, Mackenzie District, Timaru District, Christchurch City and Auckland Council were among the finalists and Clare Hadley, Society of Local Government Managers’ president says it is encouraging to see local authorities, big or small, being recognised for the positive impact they have on their communities. “Many of the things that councils are doing for their communities are left unnoticed by the general public and a national recognition such as these awards, puts the purpose of local government in a positive spotlight. “Mackenzie and Timaru District councils are great examples of how rural local authorities can work effectively with a government agency that delivers a tangible benefit to communities.” Mackenzie and Timaru District councils, alongside the Department of Conservation, are finalists in the Working Together category for their Aoraki/Mount Cook Solid Waste Plant Development project. Greater Wellington Regional Council, a finalist in two categories, commends the amount of dedication, focus and commitment from council staff as well as other external stakeholders. SOLGM also congratulates Geoff Cooper, chief economist at Auckland Council, for being a finalist in the New Professional of the Year category. Geoff has been working in local government for four years straight from university. He holds a Masters degree in Economics from University of Auckland. “I love working in local government. The work is challenging and energising and you never know what the day is going to throw at you. I enjoy being part of the team that is implementing an ambitious vision for the whole of Auckland," says Geoff. Clare Hadley says there are “many young bright sparks out there working in councils who are not only qualified, but also dedicated and enthusiastic to make a difference in their communities through the work they do.” The winners of the IPANZ awards will be announced late this month.


NZ must learn to innovate The ALGIM Records Management Symposium to be held next month will hear about the role that ‘economic geography plays in a country’s ability to innovate and export knowledge. Professor Shaun Hendy is deputy director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Victoria University and an Industry and Outreach Fellow at Industrial Research Ltd. At next month’s symposium he will make a presentation named Innovation & Prosperity: How Can Collaboration and Information Sharing Underpin Both? Professor Hendy will take a quantitative and comparative look at New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem using data from international trade and patent databases. Although New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world, the reasons for this are not well understood. In fact, New Zealand’s failure to launch after the reforms of the 1980s has struck some as a mystery including the

WCC improves its job skills

OECD which some years ago described New Zealand as “a country that seems close to best practice in most of the policies that are regarded as the key drivers of growth (but) is nevertheless just an average performer”. Professor Hendy’s analysis points to the increasingly important role that economic geography plays in the generation of new knowledge. For instance, in Australasia, larger cities consistently produce more patents per capita than smaller cities, and scientists in big cities are better connected than those in smaller cities. It also discovered that there are many large communities of inventors and companies around the world connected via co-patents. In Finland, for instance, a network of more than 1000 inventors grew in the late 1990s at Nokia, contributing to the rapid development of a 10 billion euro export sector. “If New Zealand is to rejoin the rest of the developed world,” says Professor Hendy, “it must overcome its economic geography to build connected communities of knowledge workers and businesses. It must diversify its exports, while building scale in its industries. It must open up the exchange of information and ideas within its innovation sector and become an exporter of knowledge rather than nature.” ALGIM is taking registrations for the symposium at Article by Cassie Rowe, ALGIM.

A skills development programme for landfill and drainage operators at Wellington City Council (WCC) has led to the introduction of new working procedures, and greater confidence around health and safety. Fifteen crew from the city operations division took part in the programme, achieving a national certificate in civil plant operation in the process. “Introducing a structured programme allowed us to train the way we wanted to train,” says WCC drainage manager Kevin O’Keeffe. “It has also helped us to achieve a consistent baseline of skills for staff, particularly around health and safety, so that things are done safely and right first time.” InfraTrain worked with the council to identify skills gaps among staff, and developed a programme covering foundation skills such as driving, first-aid and health and safety. The programme also included specialist skills to suit the work of the landfill and drainage divisions. Training was delivered through regular group sessions by training provider Graham Wharepapa. These covered theory around machine operation and maintenance, which were then followed up by practical sessions where staff could practise what they learned. “Graham had a great way with the guys,” says landfill and composting manager Darren Hoskins, “and being from the industry himself, he really understood our needs. During the programme he worked with us to introduce a number of systems, including a log book for the time the guys spend on each machine. It has been so useful that we’ve decided to keep the process in place."




GDC earns online award Gisborne District Council has won ALGIM’s Supreme Website Award in the 2012 web awards contest. The annual awards recognise and celebrate best practice in websites among New Zealand local authorities. ALGIM or Association of Local Government Information Management says the awards aim to encourage local government staff to be innovative and be recognised in supporting their organisation and communities of interest. The Gisborne site – www.gdc.govt. nz – has a ‘representation review’ link on its home page, which asks ratepayers how they think council should represent them. There is also a list of popular links, along with What’s New, Hot Topics and Latest News, and links to source forms and documents, a list on online services and a number of links people can use to give the council feedback on various issues. In second place was Dunedin City Council ( and Tasman District Council (www.tdc. was third.



New Plymouth District Council won the award for best new feature website for a population over 50,000 and Thames-Coromandel District Council took the under 50,000 award. Hamilton City was recognised with the Best Redevelopment Council site and Whakatane District won the award for best use of an intranet service. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council won the award for best use of social media in local government and Rangitikei District won ALGIM’s Accessibility Award. Mandy Evans from the Marlborough District Council won the ALGIM Web Professional Development Award for displaying “excellent potential”. The Marlborough District Council was ranked fourth in a list of 78 councils nationwide, a move up from fourteenth place last year. The rankings are based on features and services offered and compliance with New Zealand Government website and accessibility standards.

air quality

Fighting the good fight on

a ir po llutio n Poor air quality can directly affect people’s health and since the introduction of the Resource Management Act, regional and territorial local authorities have been in the front line against air pollution in New Zealand. Around the country, home heating in the form of wood and coal fires has traditionally been the main source of air pollution nationally. In Auckland, air pollution from motor vehicle transport has been the primary source. In total, the cost of air pollution is thought to be well in excess of a billion dollars annually. As long ago as 2007 it

was estimated that long-term exposure to air pollutants can be attributed to 1100 deaths each year. As we report in this air quality feature, the air over Tokoroa breached national environmental standards several times in May and there will be consequences that will impact on the town. The use of wood as an energy source for fires has been criticised in the past, but we hear an opinion from EECA that there are many positives about using wood fuel in New Zealand. We also hear from Dr Doug Boddy, who outlines the current state of play with air quality monitoring in this country.



air quality

Tokoroa’s air-quality breach

will impact home-owners The air over Tokoroa breached national environmental standards several times in May and as a result national regulations prohibiting the use of new open fireplaces will apply to the town from May next year. Tokoroa had three PM10 exceedances on May 20, 22 and 23 of 52 µg/m3, 54 µg/m3 and 58 µg/m3 respectively. Revisions to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality in 2011 declare that when the PM10 standard is breached in an airshed after September 1 2011, a ban on the use of new solid-fuel burning open fires will apply a year later. For Tokoroa, the first breach of the PM10 standard since September 1 2011 was this May. Therefore the use of open fireplaces installed a year or more later – on or after May 21 2013 – will be prohibited. People who already have open fireplaces that were installed before May 21 2013 will be unaffected and can still use them. The ban only applies to houses and other domestic buildings, not to commercial buildings. Waikato Regional Council policy advisor Amanda Banks says the rule is intended to prevent new pollution sources, such as open fireplaces, in areas that already exceed the standards. “Open fires also aren’t very effective at keeping people



warm and if you heat your home with one, you could be eligible for a free heating upgrade.” PM10 occurs in smoke from wood-burning fires. It is not visible to the human eye and is small enough to get into people’s lungs and cause serious health problems and may make conditions like asthma worse. Burning dry wood, using a compliant woodburner and not dampening down fires helps reduce the amount of smoke.

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air quality


Wood fuel is one of the oldest forms of energy known to man – and has been used to provide heat and light for thousands of years. In the 21st Century, energy from wood has become a compelling answer to the global search for sustainable sources of energy. With a better understanding of the science of combustion, and with modern technologies and automation available, wood fuel burning equipment is now a very different proposition to the old wood burning boilers of the past. Wood is a renewable, clean and efficient energy source. On a global scale, wood fuel (or woody biomass) is a well-established source of renewable energy and bioenergy is already making a substantial contribution to supplying global energy demand. Estimates by the International Energy Agency indicate that bioenergy could contribute between 25 per cent and 33 per cent to the global primary energy supply by 2050. The use of wood as an energy source creates jobs and adds value to our primary forestry industry by turning what was once a waste stream into a valuable fuel resource. With process heat making up to 31 per cent of New Zealand’s energy use, the potential for the fuel is massive. New Zealand has approximately 1.8 million hectares of plantation forestry and has an abundant wood fuel supply that, for the foreseeable future, will outstrip demand. For a national overview of supply, more information can be found in the New Zealand Biomass Resource Atlas on the EECA Business website at

Already, many businesses and communities are discovering the benefits of wood energy. More than 30 schools around the country are using wood energy and clusters of bioenergy users are popping up. Dunedin is a good example of a bioenergy cluster, with three wood fuel suppliers in the city and nine (and counting) commercial or industrial wood energy users, the city is addressing its air quality issues with renewable energy in a cost-effective way. Wood fuel is a great local energy source that already plays a big part in New Zealand’s energy supply. This is set to increase in the future and as with any energy source, the environmental effects need to be taken into consideration. One of those effects is the discharge of particulate emissions to air, which are known to have significant health effects. To help local authorities better understand the impacts of the particulate emissions, EECA commissioned consultancy Sinclair Knight Merz to develop a guidance document for local authorities on PM10 emissions (particulate matter emissions of 10 microns or less) from industrial and commercial boilers. The document provides guidance on what those emissions may be and outlines some of the issues and parameters planning authorities should take into consideration when evaluating the use of wood fuels. The document is available from the EECA website at To request hard copies of the document, email your postal address and the number of copies required to

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air quality

Air quality issue hinges on cleaner-burning home fires The biggest challenge the Otago Regional Council faces in Central Otago towns where winter air pollution is an issue, is getting everyone who needs to convert to cleaner-burning appliances to do so. New rules, which in effect prevent the use of coal for home heating, and ban the use of unapproved burners including open fires, came into force on January 1 in Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, and Arrowtown. These towns all log exceedances of the National Environmental Standard for air quality each year. ORC director regional services Jeff Donaldson says many residents, supported by the council’s Clean Heat Clean Air programme, had over the last three to four years upgraded to clean heating systems in advance of the rule changes, while others were in the process of doing so. Mr Donaldson says ORC will begin implementing the rules this year and will provide warnings and information on how to comply with rules before considering stronger enforcement actions. The Otago Air Plan deadline for achieving compliance with the NES is September next year. ORC will continue to help those who are still using multi-fuel burners and open fires, and burning coal, to become aware of the changes they need to make to comply. Smoke measured as particulate matter less than 10 microns in

diameter (PM10) from domestic fires remains the major cause of winter air pollution in Otago.. “If you’re really looking at the health benefits of cleaner air, or trying to improve health, you probably should be looking at the smallest particulates of less than PM2.5,” ORC director of environmental information and science John Threlfall says. “However, research has shown that the vast majority of PM10 we’re picking up from domestic emissions is PM2.5, and therefore, if we’re getting 40 to 50 exceedances of PM10 and we’re clearing up the PM10 problem, then we’re also cleaning up the PM2.5. “ Dr Threlfall says because of the regularity with which the NES is currently exceeded in those Central Otago towns, there are no subtleties involved when it comes to monitoring. “At the moment in those places, it doesn’t matter too much where you place your monitor, you’re going to pick up that kind of poor air quality. However, when the air gets cleaned up over time, and we start getting down to three, four, or five exceedances a year, placing the monitor becomes much more strategic, we need to be in the worst part of town.” ORC has a programme of continuous monitoring in polluted towns, supported by spatial

monitoring in two towns each winter. “The PM10 number of 50 micrograms in the NES is an approximation, because there are no safe levels for PM10 – health benefits will continue to grow the cleaner the air gets,” Dr Threlfall said. “We’ve got a goal in our Air Plan of 35 micrograms, which is an indication that we’re aiming to get air quality as good as we can. However, we have a major problem on our hands with Central Otago towns and Milton, so achieving that is a huge task.”

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air quality

Air-quality monitoring needs careful planning BY DR DOUG BODDY, URS NZ LTD

We may sometimes forget during the course of our busy daily lives that all living organisms, in one way or another, pollute. Life is a chemical reaction, where input chemicals such as food and oxygen are converted into growth or motion. The reaction products are referred to as waste or, where levels become unacceptable, they are called pollutants. Consequently, air pollution is the presence of one or more chemicals in the atmosphere in quantities and duration that cause harm to humans, other forms of life and materials. It is tempting to view air pollution as a recent phenomenon associated with modern industry. However, it has a long history dating back to the use of fire by early people when poorly ventilated cooking fires filled dwellings with smoke and other pollutants. Urban air pollution was first documented in AD 61 by Seneca, who wrote about the ‘heavy air of Rome’ and the ‘stink of its chimneys pouring forth pestilential vapours and soot.’ In recent times, urban air pollution has become a concern in relation to health and urban sustainability issues, with road traffic comprising the major source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. In New Zealand, air quality monitoring studies have often focused on measuring ambient concentrations of pollutants to determine their compliance with the ambient air quality National Environmental Standards, or to determine potential exposure risks or effects to human health. The focus of these studies has often been on emissions from industry or

road-traffic. In other locations, however, it may be emissions of particulates from domestic wood burners that pose a greater problem in terms of compliance with the ambient air quality National Environmental Standards. This is particularly so during the winter months, when particulate emissions are elevated and there is a higher frequency of stable atmospheric conditions or temperature inversions, which inhibit dispersion and trap pollutants close to ground level. Ambient air quality monitoring is not without its challenges, and these may include spatial, temporal and economic factors. In the built environment, population and traffic flows are relatively high. Consequently, human exposure to traffic-related pollutants is significantly increased. In streets that form part of a busy arterial network of the city, traffic flow is usually high. Furthermore, these streets often have poor dispersion conditions, caused by the combined influence of meteorology, urban topography and traffic characteristics. As a result, high pollution concentrations have been observed in such streets, (e.g. Kyber Pass Road and Queen Street in Auckland). The process of selecting a monitoring site for a particular study very much depends on the question that is being asked. For example, is the purpose of the study to determine compliance with an ambient air quality National Environmental Standard, or is the study to determine the potential risk to human health? It may also be

necessary to undertake a preliminary study to determine whether a longer-term study is warranted. In addition, it is not always possible to locate air quality monitoring equipment at a site due to health and safety and/or planning restrictions. Other challenges are often related to time, which is of course intrinsically linked to cost. However, there are a number of different types of monitoring equipment, some involving complex, real-time analysers and data loggers and some involving a simple passive sampler consisting of a small plastic tube containing a chemical reagent to absorb the pollutant to be measured directly from the air. The challenge facing the air quality scientist is therefore sourcing the right piece of equipment for the right location at the right price. URS New Zealand has experience across a wide range of industries including forestry, metals and waste and during the last few years, the company’s air quality group has undertaken monitoring studies throughout New Zealand and Australia embracing a wide variety of technologies and techniques, including dust deposition gauges, high-volume air sampling, monitoring of SO2, CO, NOx, air toxins and particulates and occupational health monitoring and compliance studies. Dr Doug Boddy is associate air quality consultant with URS New Zealand Limited, email:




New Zealand’s battle against


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When the skies open and the Land of the Long White Cloud gets a drenching, it will be councils from one end of the country to the other whose staff must turn out to mitigate the resulting flooding. Flooding is New Zealand’s most frequent natural hazard and weather is clearly the biggest contributing factor to flood risk. However, development and population growth on flood plains is also a contributor, along with land use. The Ministry for the Environment says flood risk management in New Zealand has evolved over time, from ad hoc to centralised approaches last century, to the current devolved approach of management by local government. This devolved system means that local risks are the responsibility of local authorities, albeit with funding from various central government agencies when the damage is done. In this issue we hear GHD Ltd’s views on how we apply ourselves to the reinstatement of roading following flooding and how we learn the lessons for the future. We look at the years of collaborative planning between the Otago Regional Council and Clutha District Council before they launched a draft flood-risk management strategy for the South Otago town of Milton.


Flood defence for The Valley A project to double the flood defences at one of New Plymouth’s popular retail precincts will be finished by June next year. The flood threat to ‘The Valley’ large-format retail centre, located on the lower Waiwhakaiho River floodplain, had already been significantly reduced with the completion of stopbank upgrade work by the Taranaki Regional Council last year. This increased the standard of flood protection provided by stopbanks downstream of Devon Road from a 50-year standard to a 100-year standard, with an allowance for climate change to the year 2060. However, further work is needed to protect this area from the flood threat posed by the Mangaone Stream, a tributary of the Waiwhakaiho River that flows along the western edge of The Valley. This stream burst its banks and devastated the area back in 1995, when the storm dubbed ‘The Big Wet’ hit New Plymouth, causing significant flooding and disruption. This prompted the construction of flood protection works along the Mangaone Stream to provide protection to a 50-year standard. Unlike the Waiwhakaiho, however, raising the Mangaone stopbanking to increase the protection standard is not a feasible option, so detention dams up to 8m high are being designed for the upper catchment. These will limit the downstream flows to levels that can be managed by the existing stopbanking along the stream’s lower reaches. Completing the stopbank upgrade along the Waiwhakaiho River proved

Existing Mangaone Stream Gabion basket flood wall.

to be a challenging exercise because of the need to avoid a significant increase in its footprint. This was constrained by the need for access along the riverside toe of the bank for maintenance, and on the landward side by Rifle Range Road, which is directly next to the toe of the stopbank. A number of options were considered, ranging from structural walls on top of the bank to steepening the batter slopes to 1.5:1, rather than the normal 2:1. The steeper batter option was adopted, but in some areas where space was even more constrained, the landward side was retained to the banks full height of 3 metres , using a structurally designed massbloc wall. When the initial flood control works were undertaken along the river in 1997, constraints on available space along parts of the river required an innovative solution involving a

combination of low stopbanks and traditional Gabion baskets sealed with a thick layer of shot-creting applied along its riverside face. Raising these banks further involved placing additional gabion baskets to widen the base of the Gabion walls and adding a basket to the top, and again sealing the riverside face with shotcret. Construction methodology was a critical component assessed when choosing a successful tenderer. The contract was won by Taranaki Civil Construction, who addressed the issue of methodology to the council’s satisfaction and went on to develop some new items of plant to compact the new stopbank fill and form the new steeper batters within the very tight constraints of the site. With Rifle Range Road running along the full length of the work as the main access to the retail precinct, closing or partially closing the road were not options.

Waiwhakaiho stopbanks after the upgrade.




Preparing Auckland

for a crisis BY LISA ROBERTS

Since amalgamation in November 2010, Auckland Council has been committed to establishing business continuity planning and crisis management arrangements that enable council to respond quickly and effectively to events that could disrupt its business. This has been a major challenge for a large, complex organisation that has undergone fundamental changes and has many major regional and local initiatives underway. The Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 has two distinct requirements of local authorities: A local authority must plan and provide for civil defence emergency management within its district (S64-1). A local authority must ensure that it is able to function to the fullest possible extent, even though this may be at a reduced level, during and after an emergency (S64-2). While the first clause is often the primary focus of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) managers, the second clause infers a requirement for sound business continuity arrangements to ensure that a council can maintain its critical internal functions following a disruptive event. It is in this area that many councils have work to do.

Developing business continuity plans At Auckland Council this has been led by the CDEM department through a dedicated business continuity and crisis management role, providing policy direction, coordination, guidance and training, while individual council departments retain responsibility for the development of their own specific business continuity plan. A prioritised and flexible approach has been taken, with the more advanced business continuity planning expected from the departments that perform critical



functions. These include customer facing services (e.g. customer services, operational teams), those that are critical for other departments to function (e.g. information services, property), those that are important to protect health and safety (e.g. HR/health and safety) and teams that have a significant role in a major crisis or disaster (e.g. building inspectors, CDEM, communications).

The framework Council’s crisis management plan outlines how it coordinates a crisis response that has a major disruptive effect on council’s business, through the crisis management team. Team members continue to do their day jobs rather than adhere to the emergency management ‘CIMS’ structure, to keep people operating in businessas-usual roles as much as possible. A clear distinction has been made between the CDEM and crisis management frameworks. The crisis management team is ‘inward looking’ and focused on internal recovery of council operations, while the CDEM Emergency Coordination Centre coordinates the wider community response, recognising the inter-dependencies between the two. In effect, in a major event, the crisis management team becomes another agency coordinating with, and receiving direction from, the CDEM emergency coordination centre (in the same way as external agencies such as a lifeline utility or welfare organisation). The crisis management team is a coordinating (as opposed to operational) entity, just as the CDEM Emergency Coordination Centre is. The operational response and recovery activities are through the council departments themselves and departmental business continuity and incident management plans outline how this will be delivered.

Testing the plans The crisis management plan and some departmental business continuity plans have been activated in the last 12 months to support incidents, such as the evacuation of buildings and an information systems failure. The value of hard copy contact lists and understanding in advance the priorities for relocating staff and functions were well proven. The ability to quickly assemble a team that provided a coordinating point for the event was also critical to the response’s success. In March 2012, the council carried out Exercise Tahi, which required the crisis management team to respond to an evacuation of council’s most critical building and a notional failure of information systems. 18 departments and two subsidiaries participated, along with council’s leadership team and the CDEM emergency coordination centre. The exercise was a valuable opportunity to identify gaps and learnings and help council move forward.

The future Council is highly aware of the level of dedication and resource required to establish and maintain crisis management and business continuity arrangements. Having developed ‘first phase’ plans across council, the next phase is ensuring a wider level of capability across the organization and continual improvement of plans and arrangements. Business continuity compliance standards are being developed to ensure that managers are clear on what is required to maintain Auckland Council at an acceptable level of readiness for the next major disruptive event, whatever and whenever that may be. Lisa Roberts is business continuity and crisis management coordinator, Auckland Council.



flood hazard protection Environment Canterbury wants public comment on the draft river gravel management strategy. Commissioner Donald Couch says the purpose of the strategy is to ensure that the extraction of gravel from rivers is sustainably managed throughout Canterbury. Gravel is also extracted from land-based quarries, but the strategy does not cover this. “Active management of gravel will provide for affordable flood hazard protection that ensures community safety and wellbeing. It will also allow for sustainable economic development without compromising cultural, social and environmental outcomes and values,” Mr Couch said. “There has been an inconsistent approach to managing gravel extraction around the region. This has led to uneven extraction rates which have created environmental and economic issues and also concerns about managing flood and hazard risk.” Mr Couch said extracted gravel will play an important part in the rebuild of Christchurch. “The impact of the earthquakes will place particular pressure on the supply of river gravel to the extent that in some areas managing flood risk could become a challenge. There is also increasing demand from greater agricultural activity throughout Canterbury.” A High Court decision in 2011 requires a change in approach to allocating gravel. This decision means that only available gravel in rivers can be allocated to consent holders and priority must be given to those who hold existing consents. “This is a change from previous decisions where it was determined that there was no limit on the allocation of gravel and there was no priority for existing consents,” Mr Couch said. Another reason for developing the strategy now is a need to provide direction on gravel management in the draft Land and Water Regional Plan and for flood and drainage bylaws to be notified in 2012. Donald Couch says Environment Canterbury welcomes public comment on the draft strategy. “Management of river gravel is important because it is a significant contributor to economic and environmental outcomes in the region, including the rebuild of Christchurch. Gravel has a surprisingly wide range of uses and it is vital in flood and erosion protection work.” Submissions close on June 29.




Milton 2060 – a collaborative flood risk management strategy When the Otago Regional Council (ORC) and Clutha District Council launched a joint draft flood risk management strategy for the South Otago town of Milton in April, it was the culmination of five years of collaborative planning between the two councils. The strategy arose from the creation in 2007 of a working party spearheaded by the two councils, which came together to address the town’s longstanding vulnerability to flooding. Milton sits at the centre of the Tokomairiro Plain and has a history of flooding dating back to European settlement in the 1850s, often with adverse effects. Most recently, extensive flooding occurred in 2006, 2007, and 2010. During the 2007 event more than 100 residential properties were affected. Dubbed Milton 2060, because it looks about 50 years ahead, the strategy’s objectives are to: identify the characteristics of flood events, and their effect on Milton and the northern Tokomairiro Plain; equip the community to understand, and live with, the effects of flooding; guide the nature and extent of land use development so that flood risk does not increase and that this risk is progressively reduced, and; support the investigation and implementation of flood risk reduction measures. Clutha District Council planning and environment manager Murray Brass said both councils had acknowledged that an integrated policy approach was needed which focused on minimising the physical and economic impact on Milton of future flood events, and investigating where future land development could occur safely. The draft strategy recognises that



there are financial and practical limits to Milton’s ability to outright protect itself from flood risk, and so a multi-faceted approach was required. It aims to provide residents with as much information as possible about potential hazards through maps drawn by ORC scientists. It highlights that some land use controls may be needed to divert new development away from the most flood-prone zones. ORC director environmental engineering and natural hazards Dr Gavin Palmer said the extensive flood hazard investigations and mapping completed by ORC staff had helped Milton residents be better informed about flood risks. In particular, mapping the ephemeral channels and discreet swales was innovative work that gave people new detailed images of how flood waters move and where they were likely to occur. Much of the technical information displayed with LiDAR maps would help ensure all residents exposed to the flood risk were aware of the need to be prepared should an event hit their home or business, Dr Palmer said. ORC organised a public meeting in Milton on April 24 for the two councils to launch the draft strategy. It attracted 100 people. Two follow-up information meetings held two days later attracted about 60 people. Councillors and staff from both councils were at all three sessions to discuss the draft strategy with locals, get feedback, and answer questions. Councillors and staff have also met one-on-one with a number of residents to discuss their particular situations. Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan and ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said they were both impressed during the process by the high level of local knowledge about flood events. For example, people were

very knowledgeable about the effects the lie of the land and local infrastructure had on increasing flood levels and prolonging drainage of floodwaters. Cr Woodhead said having that kind of community knowledge available meant people didn’t have to be convinced there was a problem as they were aware of it from experience. The ORC work gave them detailed information on the nature and extent of flooding in the area. Even though a few people were concerned about the draft strategy’s regulatory proposals, by and large people were supportive of the strategy as a means to improve flood mitigation and help the area develop and prosper in the future. Mr Cadogan said people came along wanting detailed explanations about flooding, and this often scientifically confirmed what they already knew. So there was no denying the problem, but rather general welcoming of the strategy and its aim of taking practical steps to deal with the problem. Mr Cadogan said the close collaboration between the two councils was a highlight of the process for him, including the round-table discussions with locals and staff from both councils during the open day sessions. “Both agencies were required to work together to develop an array of effective solutions that the community could buy into and that was where we put our focus.” There was strong political collaboration on the working party with the Clutha mayor and ORC chairman both members, supported by Clutha councillors, the chief executives and senior staff. The Milton 2060 strategy was open for public comment and those submissions would be considered by the joint working party before the final strategy was recommended to both councils.



Achieving ‘more for less’ is the challenge for all New Zealand councils. Project procurement is a ‘low-hanging fruit’ in achieving this. We all know that the early stages are the most effective time to influence project outcomes. Successful procurement rests on five key factors. Get these right and you are well on the way to having a successful project.

Know what value looks like Unless you know what you want to achieve, you can’t design a procurement process that will deliver. Ask yourself what the key measures of success will be. Is it cost (whether capital, operational or Whole of Life)? Timeliness? Quality? Transfer of skills and knowledge?

Understand the “other party”

Know that one size does not fit all Every council has defined processes for procuring goods and services. While they bring a high degree of efficiency to standard procurement practices, they fail to deliver for non-standard procurement. Significant infrastructure projects each have unique characteristics (e.g. environmental considerations, community aspirations) and deserve procurement processes which reflect these.

Procurement is at very least a two-party exchange. Understanding the other party and how they will respond will help design a procurement process which will delivers best-for-project outcomes. That contract clause you included to cover the council in any eventuality will be interpreted by the respondent as transfer of risk and result in increases in tender price. Numerous changes to standard contract conditions may result in uninsurable work, misunderstandings and price increases. Technical specifications the size of telephone books that don’t directly relate to the project will add cost. Not to mention the risk of the good quality contractors choosing not to respond.

Assign risk to the correct party Transfer of risk costs money. Do a detailed risk assessment and consider who is best-placed to manage those risks or, better yet,

think how these risks can be reduced. A common example is to transfer risk of unknown ground conditions. This just adds to the tender price and can never be recouped. Consider paying for unforeseen ground conditions (in which event, you only pay if they are actually encountered), or better yet, obtain geotechnical advice so an informed risk assessment can be undertaken.

PractiSe true collaboration There are numerous examples of complex, onerous contract documents with a paragraph added about collaboration. This does not send the correct signal to the contractor and is not collaboration. Equally, collaboration is not doing everything on a hand shake, being the contractor’s best friend and never writing anything down. Write fair and equitable contract documents; adopt an attitude to work together for the project’s benefit; address issues in a timely manner; document decisions; work in a trusting and respectful manner. Getting the right procurement process is a one-chance shot to set the project on the right trajectory to a successful outcome. Adopting and implementing the above principles will ensure that you get the right fit for your project and can, indeed, deliver more for less to your community.


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Floods teach hard lessons BY LUKE McCARTHY, PROJECT MANAGER, GHD LTD

The Winterless North is not without its fair share of weather-related issues. Every year, we will have an event that triggers support from NZTA in the way of funding, and triggers action from consultants, contractors and a council to reinstate the network back to an appropriate level of service. It is how we apply ourselves to the reinstatement, learn the lessons and look for ways to improve and futureproof our networks that will minimise the headache and look to address inherent liability into the future. Storm watch in Northland is a regular occurrence. The weather, either on TV (when it can be predicted) or from one of the many websites is usually close at hand. Inevitably, the outcome is hard to

predict. Depending on the nature of the event and the mobility of resources, we tend to have a good understanding within the first few days. You rely on the knowledge of your team and the contractors to determine likely repairs and therefore the size of the potential funding application. At this stage it is not an exact science, particularly since the early response focuses on safety and signage. But with a combination of past experience and knowledge of what the underlying geology is doing, an assessment can be made of what will work versus what will not. The myriad repairs available today

need to be put into context against the network needs, levels of service, road hierarchy, traffic volumes, through-routes (economic and social impacts), the risk of further failure or regression, safety, and the appetite for risk – i.e. low cost/high risk. Other equally important aspects include the skills of the contractors and the availability of materials. Once this is determined you can systematically work your way through the repairs to reinstate your network. Prudent fiscal management and leveraging the

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Robust data vital in recovery BY LOIS PLUM and JILL HARRISON, MWH

As New Zealanders started Christmas shopping and forming holiday plans last December, residents and businesses in Tasman and Nelson were facing a storm like no other. Between December 13-15 it unleashed a rainfall event unusual in its intensity and location, with the heaviest rainfall falling in the low-altitude coastal areas. In Takaka, one of the hardest-hit areas, more than a third of the normal annual rainfall fell over two days. At 674mm over 48hrs, Takaka’s rainfall eclipsed the previous national record for coastal rainfall set in Napier in April 2011. In the lower-lying areas the land was saturated. Streams choked with flood waters and debris and slips were the major threat to physical infrastructure and private homes. A state of emergency was declared and a Civil Defence Office was established at Tasman District Council. With two major slips closing the state highways for several days and

continued from page 20 appetite for risk will see the available funding maximised for the benefit of the stakeholders. For sites that have undergone a geotechnical investigation, an options report with a preferred recommendation is produced. This report outlines potential solutions, their appropriateness, their rough order-cost, and level of risk. Discussion can focus on a risk/cost profile. Proactive maintenance programmes with a particular emphasis on drainage are critical to the ongoing management of the network. Lessons from any event will help future decisions to be made that will prevent damage and provide resilience to certain parts of the network (or to repeat offenders). Some amazing work is being achieved by the amalgamation of available skills, innovative thinking and existing knowledge. There are opportunities for a short-term fix, but to address the medium-term headache the decision-making process needs to be robust and able to protect the investment. Understanding what and where your long-term liability lies is critical for an asset manager. It may not drive your programmes, but it can be included in the decision-making matrix to improve the network’s resilience.

more than 200 slips affecting local roads, movement around some of the popular tourist and camping areas of the district became severely restricted. In this situation, now becoming all too common, the quality of the data held about assets and infrastructure can help or hinder immediate responses and recovery efforts. In the Tasman event, the council’s comprehensive and robust asset management plans and databases ensured they could respond quickly and appropriately to the emerging risks and ultimately the slips. Access to the right information early on enabled council to prioritise vulnerable assets and equally to eliminate areas with limited risk, such as the rivers. RAMM data overlaid with information on soil conditions and waterflows using GIS highlighted the significant risks to the Totaranui road, quickly prompting a road closure to protect lives. With more

When the unimaginable strikes, asset and civil defence managers need to quickly engage the right people on the right tasks. A comprehensive resilience and recovery plan, supported by robust and complete asset data and decision systems, can ensure an efficient and effective recovery. MWH experts can help Councils become as resilient as possible through experience gained on some of the world’s most significant natural disasters. TRUSTED





For more information contact Jill Harrison on 021 873 291 or Lois Plum on 027 515 6356 m w h g l o b a l .c o m




than 165 slips subsequently affecting this road, it proved a wise intervention. Now well into the rebuild phase, the council has benefited from having all the information required to enable rapid design of road repair work. Critical success factors have been the council’s detailed work-flow processes which ensure new data is captured and updated live from the field to the appropriate data warehouse. Asset management plan reviews ensure the right information is captured at the right time and in the right way. Elsewhere, MWH has worked with clients where gaps or errors in data capture have significantly delayed and increased the costs of recovery and rebuild efforts. In one case, more than 600km of drive over road survey data was rendered unusable because the centreline data capture was out by 1m, but this hadn’t been picked up at the time of capture. The cost of rework for the designs which had been based on wrong data, together with the costs of recapturing the correct data, was not surprisingly significant. The impact on communities from closed roads or disrupted services can be significant, as was profoundly shown in Christchurch, so it is vital that organisations review their asset data and management systems to ensure they hold robust data for proper decision-making. Just as important is the planning undertaken to ensure information is readily available and understandable to the managers who make decisions in an emergency. If the technicians who manage the datasets are not available, will the managers who assemble know how

to access and interpret the data? Often this isn’t the case. While training and briefing can help, new technology solutions such as myROADS, MWH’s new road asset management tool being implemented for Southland District Council early in July, will help address this. Accessed through a single front door from any web-enabled device, myROADS uses cloud technology to create a collaborative webspace which brings together multiple datasets presented through customised client reports. Further information, Lois Plum: 027 515 6356; Jill Harrison 021 873 291. Tick

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Waste Management

Waste management a critical issue Any New Zealand baby boomer will remember the ‘trip to the dump’ on weekends when the father of the household decided it was time to clear out the garage. At a time when recycling was minimal and councils were always looking for another dump site, waste management consisted mainly of dumping and filling in another gully. Leaching was accepted, the smell was appalling, and the screeching and wheeling of seagulls announced the dump’s presence for miles around. In this issue, Eunomia Research and Consulting tells us the waste sector is changing at an everincreasing rate due to new technologies and the growing realisation we need to minimise what we throw away. Simonne Eldridge from Tonkin & Taylor explains how landfill methane emissions under ETS will impact on ‘disposal facility operators’.



waste management

Taking ‘waste’ out of waste Councils, like most sectors of society, have been feeling the pressure to constrain spending following on from the last global financial crisis. But ‘doing more with less’, as much as it sounds like a corporate cliché, is actually no bad thing. Adversity can force us to look for new and better ways of doing things. The current focus on ‘fiscal restraint’ means that when councils are looking at re-tendering their waste contracts, price and value for money are more than ever at the head of the key criteria list. The waste sector is changing at an ever-increasing rate due to new technologies and the growing realisation we need to minimise what we throw away. But I predict there will be even greater change driven by the need to innovate and find new and better ways of working. The danger when we focus too heavily on price is that it can come at a cost. That cost may be in lower standards of service, lower wages or poorer working conditions including health and safety, reduced achievement of waste minimisation goals, lack of flexibility and responsiveness, reduced viability for the contractor, etc. What appears to

be good value may eventuate to be anything but. It does not need to be that way. Rapid change in the waste means the relative costs of different aspects of waste management are changing. For example the costs of land-filling will increase, driven by levies and emissions trading scheme costs, while alternative forms of treatment are likely to get cheaper as technology matures. Markets for certain recoverable materials such as tyres or wood waste will also become more viable, and new, more efficient, methods of collection and separation are constantly evolving. It is hard to predict exactly how and at what rate the evolution will take place, but it has been happening and will continue — and where there is

strategic advice for far sighted organisations ‹ ANALYSIS ‹ POLICY ‹ STRATEGY ‹ IMPLEMENTATION ‹



change there is opportunity. The point is this: a cheap approach today may be an expensive one in five years time. Rather than simply giving contracts to the lowest bidder, councils should instead be selecting service providers who can best help them meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities over the medium to long term. Over the term of a typical 7-10 year waste contract the lowest cost and best value for money are not necessarily going to be from those who offer the lowest price on day one but rather from those who are positioned to work with their clients to innovate and find efficiencies and benefits that can be shared. Opportunities for greater innovation and efficiencies can be found in the following approaches: integrating the waste and recycling elements of a contract; longer contract terms time to write down capital costs; shared services or a partnership working to improve efficiency and competitiveness; more competitive tender processes; shared infrastructure. Duncan Wilson is a director of Eunomia Research and Consulting, an environmental consultancy specialising in waste management, resource efficiency, and climate change issues. A longer version of this article is available at

+ 6 4 9 376 1909

Waste Management

Councils and ETS: time to get finance guys involved BY SIMONNE ELDRIDGE, TONKIN & TAYLOR LTD

Under the New Zealand Emission trading Scheme (NZ ETS) landfills, which accept municipal waste, are liable for emissions from January 1 2013. The NZ ETS waste regulations give landfill operators the option to use a simple default methodology to calculate their emissions or

alternatively use more complex methodologies to take into account: the composition of the waste the capture and destruction of methane both non-default waste composition and methane capture at the same site. If an operator chooses to apply for a



Unique Emission Factor (UEF), the application must be submitted by January 31 of the year following ie a UEF application submitted by January 31 2014 may be applied, if approved, to the emissions calculations for 2013. The necessary steps to develop, apply for and use a UEF are, as outlined in the Ministry for the

brand + design + print + web Contact Fraser Gardyne • 09 300 3155 or visit us at




Environment document “Guide to Landfill Methane in the NZ ETS” 1. In particular, it is worth noting that the application requires monitoring and analysis over a full year (the base year) to determine the emissions factor. The NZ EUR 2 was originally developed to meet New Zealand’s commitment and obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. It is New Zealand’s only official register of Kyoto units. The NZ EUR manages the accounting, reporting and reconciliation of emissions and unit holdings and transactions as part of the NZ ETS established by the Climate Change Response Act 2002 (CCRA) and its December 2009 amendment. The NZ EUR is similar to an online banking system. It contains multiple accounts (known as holding accounts) and allows the transfer of units between NZ EUR holding accounts and holding accounts in the registry systems of

1 2

other Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, or between holding accounts within the NZ EUR itself. Therefore, an account holder can use the NZ EUR as they would any other bank account and buy and sell NZUs to match their requirements. For example, an account holder may choose to buy units when the price is low, in advance of when they are required to surrender units, thereby minimising their liability. Alternatively, a participant may buy units on the day they are required to surrender, thereby balancing cashflow. How the purchase of units will work in practice is yet to be seen. Now is the time for Councils to reflect on how they propose to manage their liability and involve Financial Officers in this process. The Government has recently completed consultation on proposed modifications to the Regulations in line with the recommendations contained in the ETS review report “Doing what’s fair”, released on 15 September 2011. The proposed changes of particular relevance to the waste sector relate to the progressive ramping up of surrender requirements over a three

year period and the continuation of the price cap (currently $25)3 until at least 2015. In addition the Government propose to revise the Global Warming Potential (GWP) to be consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report. This means that the GWP for methane will increase from 21 to 25. This will result in an increase in the default emission factor from 1.1 to 1.31 per tonne of waste. It will have a similar increase, ie 19 per cent, on any unique emission factors. For further ETS information and how it affects you: emissions-trading-scheme/ participating/waste/ and Simonne Eldridge is business sector leader waste, Tonkin & Taylor Ltd.

3 Participants currently have the option to buy NZUs from the Government for a fixed price of $25 per unit. This is often referred to as a “fixed price option” or “price cap”

Tonkin & Taylor is a specialist environmental and engineering consultancy with a reputation for technical excellence in the solid waste sector including: • Solid waste management and minimisation planning • Solid waste contracts • Landfill design • Landfill gas management system design • Geotechnical and groundwater investigations • Resource consent applications • ETS UEF applications.




Waste Management

Public-place recycling – where are we headed? BY LINDSEY DU PREEZ, MORPHUM ENVIRONMENTAL LTD

Public place recycling is a relatively new feature of the New Zealand recycling landscape. The original impetus to install recycling bins in public spaces came from visitors to New Zealand who complained about the lack of opportunities for recycling and the clash with New Zealand’s clean green image. The ‘Love New Zealand’ campaign1 was launched as a joint venture between central and local government to establish a network of branded recycling bins in key tourist destinations. The programme expanded rapidly leading up to Rugby World Cup 2011 with the arrival of record visitor numbers. The New Zealand public has also started to expect recycling in public places and is increasingly demanding this service be provided, not only in tourist destinations but in everyday places like sports fields, transport hubs and universities. In addition, organisations are being pushed to develop systems and are using their own signage, symbols and colours. This is leading to a smorgasbord of recycling initiatives which can be confusing for the average person passing through

multiple public spaces. Morphum Environmental recently undertook an informal survey walk from the University of Auckland’s Medical School to the Ferry Terminal (a distance of 2.6km) which showed three different recycling systems in place. Each system had its own wording and different use of colour, making it more difficult to choose the right bin. Past failures have taught us much about human behaviour in this area and what does and doesn’t work. While the public are overwhelmingly supportive of public-place recycling, it is not always translated into action and contamination (such as food scraps in the recycling bin) is a major issue. Key reasons include poor use of symbols and signage, inconsistent use of colours for material streams, and poor supporting strategies for education. Wording such as ‘Bottles and Cans’ convey a far clearer message than Plastics 1-7, Cans. Clean paper and Cardboard overcome issues associated with food-contaminated paper. Standard colours for specific waste streams also make it easier for people to recognise the correct bin

for their recycling. The State of Victoria in Australia has a standard2 for consistent signage and colours for mobile waste containers. This standard has been included in their guidelines for public place recycling3 leading to a far greater consistency with recycling at home and in public spaces. New Zealand needs a clear set of guidelines with a widely recognised signage system that makes it easy for people to recycle in the public arena. This would provide the opportunity to embed public place recycling as a solid feature of the New Zealand landscape so that we can practically work towards our goal of a Zero Waste society and more justifiably claim our status as ‘clean, green New Zealand’. Lindsey du Preez is sustainability advisor, Morphum Environmental Ltd. 1. Love NZ. 2. Public Place Recycling-Best Practice Guidelines, Sustainability Victoria, 2007. PP_recycle_guidelines.pdf 3. Away from Home, Waste Signage Guidelines, Sustainability Victoria, 2007. signage_guidelines.pdf



water policy

Evolving policy into reality BY IRENE CLARKE, GHD

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS) directs local government to manage water in an integrated and sustainable way, while providing for economic growth within set limits. The NPS represents a step-change in councils’ approach to four core areas related to water management — water quality; water quantity; integrated management, and tangata whenua roles and interests. Implementation will occur primarily through changes to regional policy statements and regional plans to put in place objectives and limits for the management of water quality and quantity. It may also require changes to district plans. The NPS will be considered in all resource consent assessment and decisions related to water management. Also changes to processes for involvement of tangata whenua in freshwater management may be required by both regional and territorial councils. The NPS must be implemented by December 2014, or if that is not practicable, through a programme of time-limited stages to fully implement by December 2030. This stagedimplementation programme must be adopted by November 12 this year.

Water quality The NPS provides an environmental ‘bottom line’ that water quality should be at least maintained, or improved within a region and water-quality objectives and limits must be set for water bodies. Communities can decide that a particular water body can be degraded, provided that overall water quality is maintained within region. Objectives will describe an intended environmental outcome or identify the environmental state required to enable community values and priorities to be met. A limit is not just the maximum resource use a water body can withstand; it is the maximum resource use to achieve the identified objective for that water body. Setting water-quality limits is a new concept for many regions and



will require a collaborative approach in both land use and water management. Local Authorities must engage tangata whenua: It is not sufficient for councils to identify tangata whenua values and interests on behalf of iwi and hapu. Councils should engage with Maori so that both parties can jointly determine what ‘involvement’ in management might mean. Many regional councils have existing water information and the RMA regulations for measurement of significant water takes will supplement that. Work done by research organisations, government and the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), provide guidance and standards relating to water management as a basis for initial

discussion with communities and tangata whenua regarding objective and limit setting. Every catchment and region will be different but there is good information around to allow councils to make progress. The work of the LAWF continues and their report released on May 18 this year includes some bold recommendations and commentary on implementation. The LAWF has a particular focus on a collaborative approach and how to use this at a local level. A copy of the NPS, the implementation guide, the background to the NPS, can be found at: Information about the Land and Water Forum and their reports can be found at

Water quality example — Lake Taupo and Waikato Regional Plan Variation 5 Objective 1: The effects of nutrient discharges in the catchment are mitigated such that by 2080 the water quality of Lake Taupo is restored to its 2001 levels.

Efficient use and allocation: This is a particular focus of the NPS and must take into account environmental, economic, social and cultural interests and how these may change over time.

Objective 2: Land use activities which result in nitrogen leaching, particularly farming, are managed to facilitate the restoration of the water-quality characteristics of Lake Taupo to their 2001 levels. Success will require integrated management between the Waikato Regional Council and Taupo District Council.

Efficient use involves: not wasting water; ensuring all water used is delivering the intended benefit; using the most efficient available technology; modifying the need for water; and modifying timing of water use.

Water quantity: Regional councils need to: amend plans to set quantity objectives and limits for all water bodies (surface water and groundwater); allow for transfer of water take permits between users; and address existing over allocation.

Efficient allocation involves: ensuring processes used to allocate water are efficient; ensuring that scarce water is directed to the highest value uses; the ability to adjust allocations to improve outcomes; and allowing new users an opportunity to gain allocation where the resource is already fully allocated.


It’s decision time – but a hazy future makes it difficult Local authorities and their suppliers have more in common nowadays, due to issues of funding, certainty and the fact there isn’t much of either right now.. It’s been a long time since wholesale sector change has been in the air and many issues and initiatives are casting a fuzzy haze over the sector at a time when it’s essential that continuity exists. Significant supplier business decisions must be made, but without clear vision into the future, these may be little more than guesses. From the contracting industry’s perspective, these guesses could shape the maintenance landscape for years to come. Meanwhile, we are facing significant cuts in road maintenance spend due to the economic slump and its effects on fuel excise revenues. Debate continues on how contract models will determine future structure of the supplier industry, although this has become more subdued as the parties gradually accept a healthy, flexible supply industry is likely to be multidimensional, with a balance between the strength and security of having large players and the need for the nimbleness, flexibility and innovative pressure brought to bear by smaller operators. Until now the Big/Small frame has been a convenient, if flawed, perspective in the productivity and scale debates. It’s also vital to acknowledge the tremendous energy and commitment some SMEs have put into developing their businesses, systems, processes and people – and the quality outcomes they achieve. This thinking is reflected in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report for the Road Maintenance Task Force which evaluates different

approaches to maintenance and operations procurement. PwC points out that “on smallerscale tasks or projects, smaller contractors may have sufficient cost advantages to make them a more efficient choice”. This is true for small contractors who have invested in and developed solid businesses but not necessarily those appointed on a lowest-cost conforming basis to projects they simply didn’t have the capability to perform. These have tarnished the reputations of competent SME contracting firms. There’s certainly need for a range of different sized and scoped contracts supported by a client mind-set that results in an appropriate mix of suppliers to service them; but I was perplexed by PwC’s observations of the aggregated contracts that “smaller contractors cannot realistically complete projects of that scale”. Perhaps we should have told researchers that maintenance contractors don’t typically build hydro-electric dams or RoNs projects – and that aggregated ‘contracts’ are simply a collection of small-tomedium-scale maintenance ‘projects’. Also, that a large-scale maintenance project is still likely to be smaller than a medium-sized capital project. I think the objectivity and utility of that report suffered somewhat through not recognising or understanding this important distinction. The more I get to know a wider range of contracting business operators and the more I understand the clients and purchasing environments – the more I’m convinced that procurement of lower-risk projects up to the current direct-appointment threshold should be via a simple process where suitably

qualified contractors bid simply on methodology and price factored by the track record of individuals pitched to lead the project. You could just go online, enter your bid data and track record scores – imagine the procurement cost-savings. Sure, keep some larger contracts where geography dictates, ensuring the ability to run larger projects is available to clients. But the more work going out to competitive market, the more dynamic the industry will become. It’s likely that as numbers of such projects come to market there will be less unsustainable tendering and fewer shortcuts, failures and reworks. This would help mitigate effects of boom/bust cycles and provide opportunities to feed a wide range of professional and committed contracting firms, resulting in a healthy, viable and dynamic industry with opportunities at every level. There’s no answer to the current maintenance industry crisis that will please everyone, and some hard decisions need to be made. It would be prudent to take the precautionary principle into account in deciding whether to further aggregate and lose all SME firms, or engage in a degree of dis-aggregation to enable a wider range of contracting businesses to survive the slump. It would be easier if there was a pool of transparent and empirical and objective data to help navigate the plethora of unsubstantiated claims and opinions around benefits and dis-benefits of the current or proposed levels of contract aggregation. To date this data set hasn’t materialised in any useful form and so for every claim of a benefit for a particular approach, there are claims to the contrary. I’m picking that such analysis will find the primary benefits to be derived from having the right people with the right attitudes, skills and a common focus; and that the contract model is secondary to that. But that’s just another unsubstantiated opinion – the whole debate might be irrelevant if we don’t see some more funds flowing into the sector soon.




Tribute for outgoing president BY MICHAEL RILEY, SECRETARY, LAPA

At this year’s Local Authority Property Association conference, to be held in Queenstown October 31-November 2, Paul Ivory will step down from the presidency after three years in the role. He recalls these years as some of the most turbulent for local government property professionals. It would be wrong to say that local government is all about property — since of course, it is all about service delivery. But it’s true that all of the services that local government delivers do involve property in some way, from operational space, to community halls and galleries, to the land underlying local transport corridors. This makes the national local government property portfolio one of the country’s largest, second to that of



the Crown itself. Since 2008, staff in this sector have worked hard to extract increasing performance from their portfolios, within a muchconstrained financial environment. “To draw an analogy with the ‘level playing field’ philosophy,, Paul says, “when you throw in the likes of the Auckland amalgamation, innumerable earthquakes in Canterbury, a global economic meltdown, and even the dramatic changes to central government policy over these years, it isn’t hard to suggest that we’ve been playing rugby in the middle of a hurricane. To achieve success in that environment has made it even more important to keep everyone up-skilled and focused, with all of us learning from each other.”

That’s why LAPA is so important to this sector. With no industry-specific qualifications available, and no formal training programmes in place yet, LAPA is the only source of best-practice knowledge for local government property people. LAPA itself has seen some turbulence during Paul’s term, too. The same factors impacting on the local government property scene have also made it difficult to plan ahead for an organisation that is committed to maintaining free membership for local government employees and running one of the lowest-cost three-day annual conferences available. “Two strategies have helped keep us viable,” Paul says. “First, we’ve never taken for granted the overwhelming support



Local authority asset sales are the topic of the moment. As councils around the country prepare their 2012/22 Long-term Plans with changes to the purpose of local government on the horizon, they are now also being forced to face the possibility of selling assets to fund new infrastructure. There is no doubt local authorities are struggling to find the means to fund new infrastructure or necessary upgrades to existing infrastructure. The major transport and development structures in Auckland have been the subject of a tussle between Mayor Len Brown and Government ministers for some time. Similarly the Christchurch rebuild is taxing the Christchurch City Council and central Government. But less glamorous and equally necessary capital projects relating to water and wastewater, roads and communications are

causing angst to local authorities throughout the country. In recent weeks, the hardly novel but largely disregarded idea of selling off assets to fund development has come to the fore. Local Government minister David Carter has been widely reported as saying he would support asset sales to provide infrastructure. Quoted as examples of assets that may be sold are airport and port company shares, and he has pointed the finger at Christchurch in particular. Prime Minister John Key has weighed in with his suggestion that Christchurch should be open to the idea of asset sales. He compared the concept to mum and dad trading-in the family home or car, although of course when they do so those assets are inevitably replaced, usually with more expensive homes or cars. He says the Government will not force

Christchurch into asset sales but, “… they have got some very large profitable projects and they might want to think about the mixture of those assets” (New Zealand Herald May 21). Some local authorities have already got the message. The troubled Hamilton City Council is proposing to sell assets to pay down recent debt arising in large part from its Claudelands entertainment and convention facility, and from the V8 Supercar series. Predictably both Christchurch City Council’s Bob Parker and Auckland Council’s Len Brown have reacted negatively to proposals to sell strategic assets. Both cite good returns from those assets and strong balance sheets. Even so, Auckland is looking to sell non-strategic assets in the hope of recovering up to $400 million.

continued from page 30 from the companies that sponsor us; we take a lot of care to deliver real value for their sponsorship dollars. The old phrase ‘hands that intertwine to wash each other’ certainly didn’t originate with us, but it’s been one of our cornerstone philosophies. That said, we are incredibly grateful for the support that our sponsors have shown through some very difficult trading times for them, and I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly say thank you. "The second strategy has been based on the willingness of committee members to do the ‘hands-on’ work of running LAPA. The 2008 crash came when we were quite new, without the finances to bolster us, but we’ve been able to keep a little bit back at the end of each year, thanks to our lack of ongoing financial commitments, and that’s all due to the passion and energy shown by the committee. We feel a lot more confident, financially, than before." By the end of this year, a new president will be appointed, and Paul believes it is time to move on from, rather than to continue the ‘Foundations and Framing’ phase of the organisation’s development. “Next year might be time to start putting the doors and windows in, yes, but before then we have a great annual conference planned, in one of New Zealand’s most pleasant places. We hope to see as many members and other delegates at Queenstown. Keep checking the website for details.

NZCF started as the national representative body of civil, general and roading contractors in 1944




As I write this, Auckland Council is meeting to consider the finalisation of its 2012/22 Long-term Plan, and at least one council faction is fighting to trim a number of Mayor Brown’s capital expenditure projects. However, clipping the wings of future development in New Zealand’s major city does not seem like a plan to promote the future prosperity of that community. Cost-cutting can only do so much, and the problem of finding alternative funding arrangements needs to be properly addressed. Asset sales may provide a one-off boost to capital development, and therefore cannot be ignored. However they are not necessarily a quick fix. There are legislative constraints on the disposal of many local authority assets that may impede their saleability, so that the sale process itself is less than commercially ideal. Even under the post-Rodney Hide Local Government Act, a decision to “transfer the ownership or control of a strategic asset” must not be made unless “explicitly provided for” in a long-term plan. A strategic asset includes those listed as such in the local authority’s Policy on Significance; an asset required to maintain the local authority’s capacity to provide affordable housing as part of its social policy; and any equity securities in an airport or port company. It also includes any assets needed to maintain the capacity “to achieve or promote any outcome that the local authority determines to be important” to the wellbeing of the community. Because changes to a long-term plan must follow the special consultative procedure, this can be a choke, but not a brake on asset sales. It does, however, make it well nigh impossible for a local authority to react quickly to market

Association of Local Government Information Management Inc

opportunities. Importantly the process requires a decision to sell to go through the public submission and hearing process, so that no sale of a strategic asset can occur without first testing the public temperament. This is not the only impediment. When it comes to the sale of real estate there are multiple traps for the unwary. Land holdings by local authorities are seldom the untapped goldmine assumed by property managers hired in from the private sector. With the exception of real estate purchased for solely commercial development or investment purposes, almost all land owned by local authorities is held under some form of impediment to disposal. The offer-back provisions in section 40 of the Public Works Act are well known. Less well known is that much land is held under trusts or endowments that date from longforgotten gifts, local acts, or trusts, or simply by virtue of the funding source used. For example, local authorities may not be free to sell land purchased from cash in lieu of reserve funds, or from former Harbour Board endowments. Then there is the vast acreage held under the Reserves Act 1977, sometimes dating back to the earliest versions of the former Reserves & Domains Acts. We wonder how often, having avoided any of those traps, potential sales are tripped up by the requirement to consult before selling “land acquired or used principally for community, recreational, environmental, cultural or spiritual purposes” contained in section 138 of the Local Government Act. Sometimes even the land on which local authority offices are housed is unavailable for sale without following time-consuming

processes. The disposal of land in stopped roads, often seen as a bonus, can be equally cumbersome. Shares in companies held by local authorities are a different story, but not necessarily instantly disposable, as the definition of “strategic asset” discussed above illustrates. The section 97 constraint would apply equally to shares as it does to real estate. The holding of equities and shares may also be governed by other legislation. For example, there is a partial moratorium on the sale of certain Auckland Council assets until the end of June 2012 under the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act. There is no doubt that if the Government decides local authorities should sell assets, some or all of these constraints will be made to disappear. But that would involve meddling with common law and statutory provisions in a manner that may well prove unpopular. Some of these provisions have protected public assets such as land and facilities for generations. In any case, it is disingenuous of the Government to imply local authorities are failing to sell assets that may either be statutorily encumbered, or where the sale process would have first to be put to the acid test of public opinion. Nevertheless some local authorities may well have to take that test sooner rather than later. It is difficult to argue with the principle of using one’s own reserves to cover necessities, rather than relying on the Government to do so. There is no doubt that new or replacement infrastructure needs to be funded urgently in some parts of the country. The Government has so far left it to its ratepayers to decide through the ballot box whether to let rates pay for borrowing or dispose of assets to limit debt. That decision may soon be taken out of their hands.

2012 ALGIM Records Management Symposium 23 & 24 July 2012 James Cook Hotel, Wellington



Information Professionals: the lifeblood of organisations!


Mayoral power scrutinised The recently introduced Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill extends aspects of the Auckland mayoral model to all mayors. This includes leading the development of plans and budgets as well as the power to appoint the deputy mayor, establish committees and appoint the chairs of committees. However, an important difference is that the Bill does not give the mayor the power to establish and maintain a staffed office with a minimum budget. Moreover, these provisions will not include regional council chairs, because they are not directly elected. So, has the Bill gone far enough? The statutory role of the Auckland Mayor to lead the development of plans (including the long-term plan and annual plan) policies, and budgets for consideration by the council’s governing body has been a significant outcome of the Auckland governance reforms. While the power is not being exercised in isolation from the council executive, there has been a subtle but significant shift from the previous model of executive-led policy/budget development to a new paradigm of mayoral-led policy/budget development. Although the immediate focus of the Auckland Mayor has been on the long-term plan and spatial plan, the role encompasses a wide range of plans and policies. Potentially, these include those under statutes (such as the Resource Management Act) as well as non-statutory policies (such as those for economic development). In fact, the role appears to go as far as the mayor leading the development of any decision involving a course of action that might come before the council. In practice, however, the Auckland Mayor’s ability to perform this role has been limited by time and resources. It is also up to the mayor to decide how he or she will lead the development of plans, policies, and budgets. Potentially, the mayor could develop all of these, with only limited input from the council executive. However, the experience in Auckland has been for this to be a collaborative process. A crucial aspect of the Auckland model has been the statutory power to establish an appropriately staffed office. Part of the rationale behind the statutory power to establish an office was to strike a balance between the power of the mayor and the chief executive. The Auckland Mayoral Office has a minimum budget of 0.2 per cent of the council’s budget set by statute. The office is really the engine room behind the mayor’s powers and is staffed with experienced officials. It is fair to say that without such an office, the Auckland Mayor would struggle to exercise his leadership role. While the mayor’s responsibility is to develop the plans and budgets, once these are before the council for consideration, any decision must be made in the normal way (i.e. by way of vote, with the mayor having only one deliberative vote). Although there was an assumption that the appointment powers would be important, they appear to be less so in the Auckland experience. While Mayor Len Brown has made these decisions, he has done so in an inclusive way across ‘party lines’. Because the council must ultimately make decisions in accordance with the procedures outlined in Part 6 of the Local Government Act, the mayor needs to be mindful of these. In particular, where there are likely to be differing views between the mayor and councillors

about the decision to be taken, it is important for discussion to take place early to clarify the issues. Also of some importance is the role of the chief executive officer in these processes, who remains under the Local Government Act 2002 “responsible to his or her local authority … for providing advice to members of the local authority”. That role must now be understood alongside the new role of the chief executive to support the mayor to lead the development of policy. While it is accepted that because regional council chairs are not directly elected, there are some differences between their role and that of a mayor, arguably the role of leading the development of regional plans, policies and budgets — which in many respects are more strategically important than local ones — meaning this role should also be extended to regional council chairs. Overall, the experience of the Auckland mayoral model suggests that extending this role to all mayors should be a positive change for local government. However, the Auckland experience also shows it is crucial this role be supported with an appropriately staffed mayoral office and minimum budget set by statute.

Dr Grant Hewison is a special counsel at Kensington Swan, specialising in local government matters.




Congratulations to New Plymouth District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council, winners at the EECA Awards 2012 Any way you look at it – when a council supports energy efficiency, homeowners win. In New Plymouth, the $200,000 saved every year through the council’s rigorous energy management is helping keep rates rises down. Further South, Greater Wellington is promoting energy efficiency through a rates top-up scheme that has made Government funding for insulation and clean heat available to another 3,500 households. Two trailblazing councils, two different approaches, two Awards. Well done to both. The EECA Awards celebrate excellence in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Read about all the winners, and find out how you can put energy to work in your business at

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