It’s good enough for Wanganui

Written By: - Date published: 7:21 am, April 29th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, democratic participation - Tags:


Rodney Hide refuses to give Aucklanders their referendum on the supercity and one of the excuses he offers is the cost: “The difficulty with a referendum is it would cost a million dollars”

So what kind of things do councils find it worthwhile holding referenda on? Here’s what the people of Wanganui got to vote on in the past four years:

  • Should Wanganui’s water supply be softened? (x2)
  • Should Wanganui introduce a local bill that outlaws the wearing of gang insignia in public places?
  • Should the Council establish a kerbside recycling service?
  • Should Wanganui have its own Anniversary Day?
  • Wanganui or Whanganui? (x2)
  • Water fluoridation
  • Representation – Number of councillors
  • Abolition of urban and rural wards
  • Local project ranking (x2)
  • Visitor Information Centre
  • Promotional levy
  • Sale of Energy Direct
  • Ownership of pensioner housing
  • Rates increase

OK. I think a referendum on recycling services is over the top but if the people of Wanganui get a say on all these issues, what possible justification can there be for not giving Aucklanders their say on this massive transformation of their local government?

11 comments on “It’s good enough for Wanganui”

  1. BLiP 1

    If Hide’s concern for costs was genuine he might have at least an idea of how much the reorganisation of Auckland’s governance might cost. But no. He’s got no idea and seems quite unconcerned about that aspect of the procedure. I guess ACT figures the Super City can sell a couple of Auckland airport shares to cover that . . .

  2. Rich 2

    Personally, i don’t think the people of Whanganui should get any democratic rights at all till five years after they de-elect Lhaws.

  3. gingercrush 3

    Referendum is rather lovely. Too bad there are elements on the left who regardless of the results of a referendum still think it should merely be overruled in favour of including the H in Wanganui. No doubt if the results of the smacking referendum are not what the left wanted. That too will be ignored.

    You can’t pick and choose yet the left seems set to do that.

    • sean 3.1

      don’t you want to to pick and choose too? Yes for a referendum on H because you’ll win and no to a referendum on the supercity (clearly a much bigger issue) because you’ll lose?

      • gingercrush 3.1.1

        Is there some hypocrisy in my post? Sure. But I actually don’t have an opinion on a referendum in Auckland nor do I necessarily agree that just because a referendum reaches 50%+1 for say “no to a H in Wanganui” doesn’t actually mean the council should keep to that. I was merely commentating on the hypocrisy some of the left are displaying.

  4. The Voice of Reason 4

    Ginger: One of the arguments for the new H referendum is that the last one didn’t present the full facts as we now know them. In effect, the citizens were asked to self identify their preferred name, without a historical context. The many referenda have been weird anyway, suffering from the problem of vague questions, or worse, limited options that don’t include choices the Mayor doesn’t like.

    While I believe the city will vote to reject the H, it’s going to come anyway. Ask anyone from Whangarei, which was Wangarei when I was a kid.

  5. Lew 5

    There’s a categorical difference between the h issue and the supercity issue: the former is a matter of geographic, linguistic and historical fact, and facts are not determined by popular opinion. The matter of Auckland governance (and the other Wanganui referenda, which despite my loathing of Michael Laws, I think are generally a good thing) are matters of preference. Referenda are good for measuring preferences, assuming a properly-informed electorate (which is a big assumption).


  6. Lew 6


    I was merely commentating on the hypocrisy some of the left are displaying.

    Cuts both ways, though. The right is no better – everyone wants to pick and choose their issues, the problem is that they tend to use their own position on an issue as the measure of worth, rather than more principled grounds.


  7. Eddie – you fail to mention that Laws has trodden all over democracy. In the 2008 referendum, the Events Centre (putting a roof on the velodrome at Cooks Gardens) was the preferred choice of those who participated. Laws chose to overlook that, claiming that the low participation rate meant that the referendum’s outcome wasn’t a true representation of the community’s will – mainly because he didn’t support the project. If anything, the apathy towards referenda is a clear indication of just what people think of local government.

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