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The NZ Herald – advancing Auckland backwards

Written By: - Date published: 10:52 am, May 1st, 2013 - 31 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, class war, democratic participation, housing, infrastructure, local body elections, national, newspapers, progressives, public transport, spin, sustainability, vision - Tags: ,

NZ Herald top managers and editors probably think the Fourth Estate is a planned new greenfield development on the outer margins of Auckland: a Dickensian kind of space where people poorly paid wage slaves and those on social security, can be hidden away from wealthy property owners and business people who have colonised the inner suburbs of the city. The Herald‘s bosses certainly don’t seem to honour the Fourth Estate aims for MSM.  A vigorous Fourth Estate would encourage, rather than stifle, critical debate of significant political and social issues, with diverse views being given equal weight.

The NZ Herald seems to be already campaigning to Auckland backwards to a National Party-backed Mayor and council. They are providing a distorted picture of the well-considered plans that provide guidelines as to what developers and home builders will be able to do in the future.  The plan to cater for a growing population is realistic, necessary and proactive.  It will ensure that the city doesn’t sprawl endlessly into suburbs with inadequate infrastructure.  It will ensure that unbearable strain isn’t added to the already struggling transport infrastructure.

The AUP doesn’t mean unsightly tower blocks will be springing up all over the city and on the boundary of every quarter acre residential property.  As explained by Matt L on the excellent Auckland Transport Blog, the plan sets a high bar for development, ensuring any new housing or apartment blocks are situated appropriately in relation to the surrounding community, and its services, landscape and infrastructure.

The AUP provides a blueprint for developing a livable, community-focused and potentially exciting city.

The NZ Herald has recently published a succession of articles undermining the Auckland Council’s Draft Unitary Plan, as highlighted by Matt L on the ATB on 26 April. Matt’s post begins:

One of the things that prompted me to write a post explaining why I want intensification in my neighbourhood was due to the seemingly one sided debate coming out of our major newspaper. It seemed almost every single article that discusses the Unitary Plan had a negative slant to it and I can only recall seeing one story even slightly balanced. Since that time this negative trend has continued and I’m interested to know why. …

I have even some of them asked through twitter to provide some balance but so far all we hear is silence then more one sided articles.

Matt critiques a series of articles that were published under the following titles:

Luxury homes picked for infill plan 

Kiwis still crave slice of suburbia

Unitary Plan deadline will stay – Brown

Review for four-storey Orewa limit

Four-storey rule sparks congestion fear

‘Not in my back yard’

And Matt identifies only one article that is remotely positive about the plan:

Locals demand quality housing

On 27 April Stu Donovan, an Aucklander still at heart though living in Brisbane, posted on the Auckland Transport Blog o, asking if the NZ Herald is whipping up fear about the AUP.  He began describing what he loves about Auckland, with his trips home always being a pleasure.  he then counters the NZ Herald scaremongering about “multi-storey” buildings.  Stu shows examples of the the inspiring times of buildings seen overseas, such as this one:

Attic Amsterdam


On Monday, Campbell Live provided a more balanced and forward-thinking consideration of the AUP.  It shows there will be many positive changes making for a more compact city.

Changes in cities always do bring a sense of loss for some people, but they also open up new opportunities and possibilities for exciting experiences.  Mt Eden is no longer the mixed-class microcosm that it was when I grew up there. It has moved upmarket with the inflation of house prices, and the increased competition for living near the CBD.  Like many Aucklanders, I no longer can afford to live there.  Like many others in the outer suburbs, I experience traveling across the city, to be an increasing hassle, with public transport being the best option.

The NZ Herald also has had it’s share of articles opposing the City Rail Link, though not as consistently and vehemently against it as the articles on the AUP.

With the Auckland Council elections coming up later this year, I hope the NZ Herald will start providing more balanced coverage of Auckland issues. Auckland does not need some corporate-backed, National Party stooge as Mayor.  So I hope that today’s article about the possibility of Maurice Williamson running, is not a sign that the Herald will be all for a National Party backed candidate while constantly running down Len Brown.

Mind you, like John Banks, Williamson would not be a shoe-in.  As Martyn Bradbury says, one good speech on gay marriage, doesn’t wipe out Williamson’s long record of waging war on the poor and of his “deep hatred of public transport”.

Len Brown hasn’t been great on issues like the Ports of Auckland dispute.  But the draft AUP and his transport proposals are better than anything that a National Party-backed candidate would do once installed into Rodney Hide’s un-democratic super-city hierarchy.

In the Council elections, it’s also important that there are as many successful progressive/left wing candidates as possible for the local boards.  I’m hoping that the MSM gives this part of the election more and balanced coverage as well.


31 comments on “The NZ Herald – advancing Auckland backwards”

  1. A Williamson candidacy may actually help the left. Right now the campaign looks very quiet and a strong mayoral contest could increase turnout and more importantly the chances of left leaning Council candidates being elected. The importance of the political makeup of Council should not be underestimated.

    • karol 1.1

      Yes, micky, I have wondered about the pros and cons of Wiliamson running. He could as easily damage as promote NAct’s plans.

      I do think there needs to be more coverage of, or info on, the local board/ward candidates. I will be interested to see any info on that, and especially learn about progressive/left candidates.

      While the inner city suburb middle-classes might be pro right wing candidates. Out here in the West many middle-class people can’t afford housing in the inner suburbs and find commuting into the city centre a real hassle.

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        There are labour tickets being run in the Henderson Massey and Whau ward. Both tickets are full and have a number of people who would make very good elected representatives.

        I will check on progress with announcements and post details as soon as I can.

  2. Paul 2

    The Herald based on this evidence is not Auckland’s paper.
    Who is the editor of the Herald?

  3. tamati 3

    On a more serious note, will there be any left wing candidates for mayor?

    Is Helen Kelley ready to step into local politics yet?

  4. dewithiel 4

    It’s the City Rail Link, not the City Rail Loop. Loops go round and round; a link opens up a network. Funnily enough, the so-called Waterview Connection is a loop because once this multi-billion dollar obscenity is completed motorists will be able to drive around in never diminishing circles all day if they want.

    • karol 4.1

      Thanks. Have corrected it.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.2

      As Joyce and the national party added a link so that Motorists from Onehunga to Mt Albert will drive on the new motorway to Pt Chev to use the existing connections to the city, i can confidentially predict the motorway will be jammed from day one, and the NW Motoway will be even more delayed.
      As much the same happened to the SW connection at Wiri, the jams were increased by adding new feeder lanes to an existing haevy used motorway

  5. aerobubble 5

    Suburbs are highly defined. A group of shops surrounded by one floor homes. Its boring, its stupid, its anti-capitalistic. In other countries a capitalist would come along and buy up a few surrounding plots, knock down the homes and build some flats because the shops, have a bus station, and the rents would be a nice earner. Not happening in NZ.

    Sometimes I just wonder at the do nothing cult here, who when they do decide to pull their finger out worry about the wrong things. Take cycling on pavements, how many deaths have their been from pedestrians and cycling (twice the speed of a runner) have there been, I for one will take to the pavement (when no pedestrians are around when there are trucks running next to a designated cycle lane any day. So why is there this debate, injected by MSM, into cracking down on cyclists and forcing them to use cycle lanes (and just imagine for a moment having to cross the road to use the cycle lane only then to cross back – and all the ensuing car drivers who have to avoid, lights that have to change to let you cross – that won’t change UNLESS you get onto the pavement and press the pedestrian button!!!!). Argghhh. Just the other day I watched as a motorcyclist waiting for the lights to change, and didn’t, and the car behind wasn’t far enough forward for the lights to be activated – it will only happen more the more cyclists… …anyway NZ local democracy (lax and lack thereof) is I believe the primary reason why sprawl and 30 year behind in social community landscaping happen.

  6. peter 6

    What is the problem? The Herald has never claimed to be unbiased.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Yeah it’s barely got claim to be an actual newspaper with actual news journalists.

      • Peter 6.1.1

        Agreed. UK papers are essentially more honest as they are generally open about their bias. Guardian to the Left, Times to the Right. Just a pity we are not as open.

  7. xtasy 7

    While I consider you a rather “enlightened” person, with good education and insight, dear Karol, I am surprised that you even bother examining the apparent editorial and general line the NZ Herald is taking and has been following for many years.

    It is so clear, that they are “commercial”, they believe in making money, they are into serving their “customers” and “stake holders”, and that is NOT US, any READERS, it is the advertisers, whom they sell advertising space to, for money they need to run.

    The same applies to all media of such a private, commercial nature. And as they face increased competition online, they will also soon introduce pay to read services, there will be NO doubt about it. You will PAY for every line of information you may wish to read.

    As for the Unitary Plan, I do not agree with the high rise plans in much of Auckland, and I think it is idiotic to simply accept that never ending migration will have to be pressed into Auckland City, to justify high-rises in places where it is idiotic, so it will destroy environment, views, social peace and more. I can live with sensibe intensification, but that does not require 8 or 18 level blocks.

    Anyway, back to this Herald piece of work. NZ is so small, where all the professionals in their field more or less know each other, and also it is a clear oligopoly, in some ways even a monopoly society. Old Boys and Old Girls Networks are in cotrol, and all this pretence of “democracy” is just a sham, a joke, a sick joke, a bizarre distortion of the true distribution of power.

    It is time more people wake up, that whatever election, whatever submissions for council or government plans and policies, we are largely ignored, spat on and taken for a ride. I have NO FAITH in NZ and the system here, as I have had a very thorough run with clear and justified challenges to various institutions. They break the natural justice law every day in NZ, so it is a ridiculous place here.

    If lawyers would work for the purpose of ensuring justice and fairness, they would have so much work, it could not be done by ten thousand in a thousand years. But they work for fees and pay, so they will not bother to represent all those many that get denied justice every day in this forgotten country, where government, establishment and too many people pretend and fool themselves, that it is a just, civilised, fair and developed society.

    On this May Day, just gone I had a great laugh, about this “joke”, Aotearoa NZ!

    • karol 7.1

      xtasy: I also find you provide some excellent information and insight on some crucial issues.

      And, yes, the Herald has shown their bias for a long time. It’s worth pointing out when they are doing it, because there are plenty who deny it. They do make an attempt to present at least 2 sides on many stories, even if it’s a bit half-hearted and gives more strength to the pro-capitalist PR.

      The Herald’s opposition to the Auckland Unitary Plan has been very blatant, and the worry is that they will be taking a strong anti-progressive line during the coming local council elections. I’m not a great Len Brown fan, but the alternative could be worse. If the local boards/wards have a strong left/progressive presence in the council, they should be able to put some strong left pressure on the mayor. I will be holding the Herald to account over any biased coverage of the elections, including if they fail to provide information about local ward candidates.

      On the Auckland Unitary Plan: I absolutely agree that the government (the council has little control over this) provide incentives and the infrastructure required for more regional development, and less endless growth of Auckland.

      The AUP isn’t a compulsory policy for high rise development that they will be putting in action. It’s providing the rules for future development in Auckland, when/where it is needed. If Auckland does not continue to grow, the intensification will not be needed.

      The AUP is a guide for future developers. As shown on the Auckland Transport Blog, the process for applying for multi-storey or high rise apartments sets a high bar. It needs to be shown how such developments will fit positively into the surrounding resources and infrastructure.

      Also, if you look at the 3D models of possible future development (based on current population trends), a lot of the medium-high rise development is not expected to happen for another 20-30 years.

      If Auckland does continue to grow, such rules will be needed to stop the endless sprawl and unsustainable, building that the NAct’s favour. The Nacts will be all for quick, profit-centred building, enabled by low regulations.

      • Olwyn 7.1.1

        Although I was disappointed with Len’s response to the POAL dispute, I am not broadly disappointed in him in the way that I am disappointed with the present parliamentary Labour Party. To begin with, the guy seems to love his city and to have a plan for it that he has to battle to fulfil. Furthermore, he does not appear to be trying to wipe the dust of South and West Auckland off his feet. I allow that if he is to fulfil his plan, he has to choose his battles, and while I would have liked to have seen him come out firmly on the side of the POAL, I do not dismiss him entirely for not doing so.

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    I’m not a great Len Brown fan, but the alternative could be worse.

    This sounds like the sad story of the political Left for the last few decades. Ashpirashunul.

    • karol 8.1

      Yes. Unfortunately, CV.

      In the case of Auckland, allowing a NAct supported candidate to become mayor, and carry through Rodney Hide’s total plan for Auckland, is an appalling thought.

      Which is why I agree with micky that, for the upcoming elections, getting a strong left presence on the council is crucial. It could be part of building a strong grass roots progressive base in Auckland.

  9. karol 9

    And just a reminder for all. From the Dept of Internal Affairs website:

    The next elections will be held on 12 October 2013 for city and district councils, regional councils and DHBs. In some parts of New Zealand elections will also be held for local and community boards, licensing trusts and some other organisations. All elections are currently held by postal voting. …

    Important election dates

    26 July 2013
    Candidate nominations open
    Electoral roll opens for inspection

    23 August 2013
    Candidate nominations close (12 noon)
    Electoral roll closes

    28 August 2013
    Public notice of elections and candidates

    20-25 September 2013
    Voting documents delivered

    12 October 2013
    Voting closes (12 noon)
    Preliminary results announced

    14-23 October 2013
    Final results declared

    November 2013
    Elected members sworn in

  10. karol 10

    And now the election heats up with John Minto throwing his hat into the mayoral race.

    Well, it’ll certainly be great for the campaign and for putting crucial left wing policies on the agenda. I have mixed feelings.

    Will he split the left vote?

  11. Ant 11

    It’s kind of funny, the Herald is obviously trying to run anti-Len rhetoric but the comments sections seem to indicate the majority of people see what he’s doing as sensible – specifically on transport, they can spin it all they want but every Aucklander experiences our transport woes and so they know something has to be done about it.

    ps. Minto won’t split the vote either – unless it comes down to a difference in the 100’s.

    • karol 11.1

      Whatever impact Minto has, his presence in the campaign will be better for Auckland in the long term.

      A win for Brown, without some strong, truly left wing momentum in Auckland, will be a short term victory.

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