The Auckland Disease (var. North Shore)

Written By: - Date published: 8:42 am, July 26th, 2011 - 27 comments
Categories: same old national, transport - Tags:

June’s Metro contains an article by Chris Harris called ‘The Ticky Tacky Death of a Dream’. According to the article, 127 hectares of prime urban land in Albany, publicly owned by the Housing Corporation, were sold to a Malaysian-owned land development consortium for $21 million, or the equivalent of $15,000 a quarter acre section. Most or all of the land was zoned commercial. But a quarter acre comparison gives a ballpark idea of the giveaway involved.

The abovementioned sale happened in 1994 when Murray McCully was Minister of Housing. Housing Corporation files that would have revealed the number of bidders, or in fact whether there were any at all, proved impossible to discover. There was, apparently, a big binning exercise when its name was changed from Housing Corporation of New Zealand to Housing New Zealand Corporation soon after the Labour coalition took power in 1999.

During the 1990s the Northern Motorway was extended out to Albany, and beyond. A Transit New Zealand PR newsletter from 2000 describes successive Northern Motorway extensions as ‘open[ing the] north for development‘ .

Transit New Zealand was the government’s state highway planning and construction authority at the time, functions now taken over by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

For much of the 1990s the head of Transit New Zealand was an Albany accountant and National party appointee, who later resurfaced as the head of the Waitemata Trust, in charge of organising National’s campaign funding donations. This fact was outed by Irene Chapple in the Sunday Star-Times (10 September 2006), and David Parker mentioned it in Parliament as well.

Could the same logic have anything to do with the Holiday Highway I wonder? Is it not Kamo and Kaikohe that the Holiday Highway is opening up for development but, rather, the more immediately adjacent Hibiscus Coast?

After all, if Northland freight is the issue, why not focus on improving the rural parts of State Highway 16 and the one-track railway that both run between Wellsford and Watakere down the Kaipara coast? The accessibility of that area is also going to be increased by the Waterview tunnel. But of course the Kaipara isn’t nearly as sexy for developers as the Hibiscus Coast, where the Holiday Highway will go.

More to the point, just how many favours have National done for developers over the years? Is it any coincidence that Nicky Hager’s Hollow Men are all Shore Boys?

Those readers who may remember watching ‘For the public good’ will recall that similar questions were asked about the original Rogernomes, also Auckland-based by the way. But they’re long gone from Labour politics.

Whereas, the continuities between 1994-vintage National and 2011-vintage National remain strong.

New South Wales has just banned political party contributions from developers. Should New Zealand be considering the same?

27 comments on “The Auckland Disease (var. North Shore)”

  1. Speaking Sense to Unions 1

    Orewa to Puhoi motorway built under Clark Labour govt.

    I suppose they were getting kick-backs from property speculators too.

  2. lprent 2

    Hi ChrisH – good to see you writing.

    SSTU: The motorway extension northwards was in the plans and budgets long before it was built. My folks had 88 acres in the upper Waiwera valley that they’d brought in 1975 to become weekend farmers outside of Auckland. From the mid to late 90’s when the planned motorway was confirmed, they got it ready for sale when the motorway went in place. They sold in early 00’s when the motorway past silverdale was finished.

    I guess you just have no conception of the timescale required to put major roads into place?

    • ChrisH 2.1

      Yeah, the highway is in the plans from the 1970s. But nothing much happened until the 1990s, which is when the land was privatised. There is more detail in the Metro article which is based on primary sources and file checks and quite a detailed timeline.

      • ChrisH 2.1.1

        SSTU – I tried to edit the last one to add the following but hit a glitch. Anhow, the point is that the Metro article says that the motorway extended to Greville Rd by 1994, and Puhoi by 2000. Now let’s see, when did Labour get in?

  3. Speaking Sense to Unions 3

    why didn’t Clark just stop it from being built if it was all just a con? They were the govt.

    Makes one wonder if some Labour MPs have lots of land or holiday around Puhoi.

    • Lazy Susan 3.1

      You don’t just suddenly build a motorway for goodness sake. Projects such as this will have complex contractual arrangements with very costly termination clauses. Governments often will do this deliberately to make it difficult for an incoming government to reverse any decisions they have made.

      Joyce and NAct seem absolutely determined to go ahead with this white elephant “holiday highway”
      while bleating about the deficit and proposing to sell highly profitable public assets to pay for it. Connect the dots.

      • Speakings Sense to Unions 3.1.1

        the contracts with the Northern Gateway Alliance who did the constuction were signed in 2004, long after Labour had come to office.

        And they could have easily not signed the Order in Council in April 2005 that gave this the final go-ahead by authorising tolling.

        But even if all that were not the case one would think that even Labour could have over-turned any contracts that involved corruption. If they wanted to that is. Who knows what sort of interests they had round Puhoi.

        • Ianupnorth 3.1.1.1

          Your mate Mr. Key can’t get out of a contract to buy BMW’s; consider how many millions would have been done in advance of building any roading or similar infrastructure project. Would it have been financially astute to do the leg work and then scrap the project?

        • ChrisH 3.1.1.2

          SSTU – My apologies, it was only extended to Silverdale by 2000. Blame this on a lunchtime brain melt, initially meaning reading and meaning Silverdale (Hibiscus Coast in VTO’s definition) and typing Puhoi.

          It terminated at a roundabout there for a long time, of course, as we all know, till it was extended by the Northern Gateway Alliance to Puhoi in the late 2000s. I used to work on the North Shore at that time so I should have remembered.

          In my personal opinion Labour 1999-2008 was less directly plugged into the North Shore development mafia than National, we need only consider how many influential North Shore Labour MPs there are, but that certainly doesn’t preclude Labour implementing National policies that they have inherited, and then handing a going concern back to National to take further.

          Basically I think this works on a basis of standing round the barbie at Red Beach with fellow Hibiscus Coast landowners and landlords, and agreeing that “people like us all know what’s needed, what’s taking so long” basis, and this is where it starts to get a little incestuous with the organiser of the Waitemata Trust for instance.

          Sociologically, that’s more likely to be a NACT crowd. If you can point to something similar in Labour–let alone the ad hominem bits about more particular interests of MPs–well of course that would be news too. No doubt even bigger news. If in fact it is there.

    • ChrisH 3.2

      SSTU – see all above. It was already at Puhoi by 2000.

      • ChrisH 3.2.1

        Sorry meant Silverdale, see above.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.2

        Actually looks to me like the National Party Research Unit has given SSTU dud or incomplete briefing info.

        which is why although he comments authoritatively on the issue he knows nothing about the project’s background at the depth he probably should, given how he is commenting.

        (I see VTO says below that the detail that SSTU uses is out)

        I think this is what has happened here.

  4. vto 4

    The general thrust of your post is on the mark but your detail lets you down. The holiday highway cannot be about development in the Hibiscus Coast because the motorway has been through to Orewa for some time and the current holiday highway is north of the Hibiscus Coast.

    Links between business and political parties is something that should be open to the public though. The disinfectant of sunlight.

    And you can apply it in the south as well.

    Jenny Shipley and David Carter and Nick Smith links to dairy, farming, irrigation, construction, infrastructure, dams.

    Wyatt Creech. John Key. Bill English and his bro at Fed Farmers.

    Smelly shit. Simply list all the connections in some public forum. For all political operators, including the well known links between labour and the unions and education sectors.

    • ChrisH 4.1

      We might have different definitions of the Hibiscus Coast. I’m thinking of Snells Beach, Omaha, Algies Bay, Matakana, and so forth. Actually if the HH only goes as far as Warkworth, as seems likely, it will meet that objective. Most people seem to think the big push through the Dome Valley to Wellsford is never really going to happen, it’s straightening out the bit from Puhoi to Warkworth that will have the most development (as opposed to safety) impact.

      • vto 4.1.1

        Yes well that aint Hibiscus Coast by any stretch. Never the mind. I do not doubt that the area you describe will continue to develop intensely. But, and the same argument applies to the road as well, development such as this is impossible to stop meaning that it must / should be catered for.

        Similarly for the whole of lower Northland. It will continue to develop and get swamped with people. Now you can jump up and down and cry “oh, its not like it used to be blah de blah” but that nimby approach is weak. Fact is the area is a fantastic place to live – geographically, socially, infrastructurally, climatically, etc. And people will go there.

        Alternative is the difference in Australia between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. Sure Byron Bay is all lovely jubbly but who can afford to live there? Only the rich. The poor are shoved to other places

        Gold Coast may well be tall towers and stuff but at least people can live there right next to a stunning beach environment.

        Or maybe Byron Bay should be emulated all over the entire country.

        • ChrisH 4.1.1.1

          @VTO – You make a good point about that whole stretch of coast being a good place to live. It’s precisely why the government should be thinking about extending rail up there, and paying for it out of the proceeds of land development (which is what doesn’t happen with state highways). This is what was done in Wellington for instance in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, i.e. using land gains to pay for rail. Building motorways on a pay-as-you-go basis from road tax simply because you can do that more easily is a half-pie way to go, a gift to developers, and a recipe for gridlock down the line on such a long, linear development axis. If the boat, bach and BMW brigade up that coast really had their sh*t together they would be rail advocates, but I suspect that would be impossibly radical right now.

  5. Afewknowthetruth 5

    Both Labour and National remain firmly loccked into denial of reality when it comes to Peak Oil and CO2 emissions, as does Transit (or whatever the latest buzz word for unsustainable development is).

    Everyhing is this current system is predicated on cheap oil. Unfortunately, the high value of the NZ dollar is allowing delusions of industrialism to persist in NZ, even as the global economic system implodes, due to Peak Oil.

    And, of course, unsustainable development and the emissions associated with them are leading to accelerating planetary meltdown:

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    and will eventually lead to mass starvation in the more densely populated regions, i.e. Auckland-North Shore-Orewa.

    It will be when food is too expensive to buy or is not available at all that people will wake up,

    That point probably won’t be reached for a few more years.

    • ropata 5.1

      While I agree that there are far better options than covering the whole country in motorways, you’re becoming a broken record (or a scratched CD?) on the doomsday stuff. Perhaps we ought to deal with the issues at hand rather than build bunkers in preparation for the coming apocalypse.

      • Afewknowthetruth 5.1.1

        ropata.

        I think you will find it is not me who is the broken record. I just point out the truth.

        The broken record is mainstream culture and all its trappings, which day after day project illusions, delusions and dysfunction, and calls it all normality.

        Every day that all the absurdity of maintream culture continues means a smaller number of people will have an ever increasing difficulty in pasing through the series of bottlenecks humanity has entered.

        You may be quite content with that state of affairs. Having grandchildren, I am not.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    New South Wales has just banned political party contributions from developers. Should New Zealand be considering the same?

    As businesses aren’t people and don’t vote they should not be allowed to donate to political parties at all. As for developers, well, you can’t stop the individuals donating unless you put a complete ban on donating to political parties.

    • higherstandard 6.1

      “As businesses aren’t people and don’t vote they should not be allowed to donate to political parties at all.”

      Substitute union for business ………. thin end of the wedge ?

      • wtl 6.1.1

        Fair enough. All donations to political parties should be from individual New Zealanders only and publicly disclosed. Furthermore, there is an argument that can be made to cap the maximum donation per individual to a reasonable level that is within the reach of most New Zealanders ($1000/year?), so that there similar level of influence for all individuals in our political system. (if the latter was implemented we could probably remove the need for public disclosure of donations)

        • Afewknowthetruth 6.1.1.1

          Which planet are you living on? Obviously not the same one as me. ‘ reasonable level that is within the reach of most New Zealanders ($1000/year?),

          An appropriate level of donation would be $1 per person per annum. And nothing from corporations and businesses.

          That would provide plenty of incentive for candidates to walk the streets, hold local meetings and talk to people, and ‘kill all the coprorate B/S we get projected at us via spin docotors and advertisng corporations. It also would rid the streets of all the platitudes and lying that is the basis for billboards that political parties churn out election after election

          None of that could possibly happen of course, since corporations are in control of the whole political proicess.

      • Ianupnorth 6.1.2

        Wrong!
        You join a union, you pay for it to represent you.
        Businesses, in the main, are owned by a select few; it would cost me a fair amount to have the same level of clout is a multi-national business as i do in any trade union.
        In addition, most unions are based in the country where the members work; most NZ businesses are small divisions of global corporations – why should Royal Dutch Shell, Airbus Industries, BP, Boeing or Wal-Mart have greater influence on a country than the people who reside there?

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2.1

          Actually, I’d agree with HS. Unions shouldn’t donate to political parties. This doesn’t stop them representing you through engaging those political parties and running advertising campaigns to bring their issues to the notice of the general public.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1.1

            Unions and their members should be allowed to be affiliates to political parties however and give money and support that way. Union membership should be able to vote on the issue democratically.

            Nothing stopping Telecom or BP from being an affiliate of National haha

            Remember that even in a major corporation, the even the biggest decisions are made by just 10-20 people. They are highly concentrated, undemocratic organisations

            In fact on that note I just changed my mind. Forget this principled shit, workers need a voice in political parties and democratic union representation is the perfect way to ensure that voice is properly heard.

            What the hell kind of ‘socialism’ are we supporting otherwise? A socialism of individuals where collectivist contributions are not valued? Pah.

            Interesting though, in the States the Koch brothers have figured this out and are using astroturfing collectivist movements to affect US politics.

  7. Absolutely YES New Zealands’ political parties should be banned from recieving contributions from land developers, furthermore that should include local bodies as well.

    I have seen land developers in action and they are the most pernicious and corrupt bunch of scum bags I have ever had the misfortune to come across. They get coulcillors and politicians in their pocket and split communities down the middle. There may be exceptions to the rule but I have yet to find them.

    No these people need to be reigned in!!!!

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