Dunedin is going to be a very interesting test of politics and opportunity over this coming three years for this new mayor.
Actually winning the votes that won him election, was a very, very close run thing for him.
His main rival, the utterly toxic Lee Vandervis, was leading the race
to become Dunedin’s next mayor for much of the vote counting process.
Dunedin has the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, where voters rank their preferred candidates in order, and then have their votes redistributed to second or subsequent picks if their first choice is eliminated.
The results after each iteration of the counting process – as candidates dropped out one by one and voters’ preferences were recalculated – showed Cr Vandervis led for much of the race.
As the ODT notes, it was only when Cr Christine Garey (with 6905 votes) was eliminated in the 12th iteration, and votes for her were redistributed to subsequent preferences, that Mr Hawkins went ahead.
In the 13th iteration Cr Andrew Whiley dropped out and those votes broke unexpectedly to Mr Hawkins as well. Whew!
It will of course take all a while to digest the results and form a functioning Council, but Dunedin is a really important test case for this government because its structure is very similar to Auckland, and because of the number of big levers that are available over the next three years.
LIke Auckland, much of Dunedin Council’s business is run through CCOs. The extent and scale of the operations and assets you can see here.
It’s arguable that when things have gone wrong, such as with Aurora Energy and Delta Services six years ago, the governance structure has eventually worked and corrected it. There’s arguments the other way too.
Mayor Goff of Auckland has promised a review of Auckland’s own CCO structure, and this government will I expect be in a mood to assist since National and ACt brought them in. It would be worth Auckland reflecting with Dunedin and government on the extent of governance powers with CCOs and what reforms are any use.
Like Auckland, there are a feast of opportunities in the next three years to improve the city. They are opportunities with a lot of leverage within them for a smart council.
Dunedin rebuilding most of the downtown streets towards being pedestrian-and-cycle-and-retail friendly. It’s about $650m of investment and work into the city over multiple years.
Central government is putting over a billion dollars into rebuilding Dunedin hospital. That brings with it massive city centre revival opportunities with streetscapes, road direction and layout, SH1 alignment opportunities, building re-use, and more.
Central government is effectively re-nationalising its successful Otago Polytech, which has extensive land holdings. As one of the very few successful polytechs, there’s ample room across Council’s property arms to look at how all those assets are re-imagined and revived.
Dunedin is also considering a bold proposal to revive its waterfront with a development master plan.
We’ll have to see if Auckland’s waterfront can match that.
There is also work close to shovel-ready for a full shared path from the city to Port Chalmers. It’s mostly an NZTA job, but needs lots of community support to ease its way.
Auckland is not left-dominated in Council or in politics, unlike Dunedin. So the comparisons have real limits. Also, the loss of the Blueskin Bay wind electricity generator to appeals shows that even the most committed small-scale communities can’t go deep green without hitting real community limits. We can’t freight the new Dunedin Council with too much expectation, even with a climate crisis looming.
But the confluence in Dunedin of a Green-left Council with lots of opportunities to be an example for Auckland and for other councils, if they cooperate well with government and seize the opportunities they have.
With those horses running, it’s now Aaron Hawkins at the reins.