John Wood for Devonport - Takapuna Local Board

Local Board Campaign

My campaign is about a local community with:

Most of all this campaign is about having conversations about whether Auckland and our local area is organised in a way that is sustainable; produces good outcomes for everyone and the environment; and is a place that we will be proud to pass on to our children.

Carbon Zero Commitment

At the heart of my campaign is the need for Aucklanders to significantly reduce their carbon emissions. The scientific consensus is that the world has a window of a few years to start to reduce carbon emissions. If that is not achieved then global warming will be irreversible with often catastrophic events from adverse weather events, rising sea waters and a climate less suitable for civilisation.

While most of NZ’s carbon emissions come from agriculture (50%) the Productivity Commission has reported that transport emissions have increased by 70% between 1990 and 2016. It is unrealistic for us to expect that the agricultural sector should be the only one to bear the burden of carbon emission reduction.

The Auckland RTPT (Regional Public Transport Plan) 2018 states that, “Although the last three years have seen major growth in (public transport) boardings at a region-wide network level, the impact of increasing public transport patronage on overall demand for vehicle travel has been modest.” This and other statistics show that Auckland is making little progress, if any, to reduce carbon emissions.

I am a strong advocate for increased use of public transport as a way to reduce carbon emissions. I speak elsewhere how the modern city of Vienna, with a GDP well in excess of Auckland, has adapted to become a city where car trips now only comprise 27% of all trips, with a target of less than 20% by 2025.

Auckland needs to proceed apace with the planned light rail to Mangere and the Northwest. It also seems that planning for light rail to the Shore (and to be absolutely clear not a mix of rail and road) should commence tomorrow and I shall continue to advocate for this.

Read more about this issue at: NZ Herald: The next harbour crossing: road and rail, or just rail?

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Cheaper Public Transport / Better Frequency

NZTA has identified that there is a looming crisis on the motorways of the North Shore. Auckland has discovered that we cannot find the space or afford to have everyone traversing the city by car.

Many larger cities have recognised that many future trips will be made by public transport. To enable this to occur public transport needs to be affordable with good frequency. Vienna, Austria has changed the nature of that city by developing a cheap public transport pricing model that is based around cheap monthly and yearly passes. Because every additional ride is free the Vienna public transport system is used extensively. Vienna has a population about 10% larger than Auckland, but public transport trips are ten times more in that city (950 million compared with 92 million). Adults are able to travel all day/every day at a cost of about $2 per day. Particularly for the less affluent this represents a really affordable way to move around the city and each public transport trip is freeing up road space and reducing the huge cost of building additional roads.

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Successful Local Shopping Areas

Successful businesses create local employment and reduce the need to travel for goods and services.

Panuku has recognised this in the re-development of Takapuna:

The vision is to make the most of Takapuna's unique sea and lakeside location and create a safe, accessible and vibrant town centre orientated around pedestrians and cyclists.

Many areas will benefit from the pedestrianisation of shopping areas. Contrary to popular mythology the majority of research shows that walking traffic markedly increases retail returns in the area.

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Environmental Issues

Environment Aotearoa 2019, a survey undertaken by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Stats NZ found four major concerns. The major issues include thousands of species threatened or at risk of extinction, rivers unsafe for swimming, the loss of productive land due to urban expansion, and a warming climate likely to destabilise many parts of the environment. It is my strong commitment to address all these issues at a local level.

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Plastic Waste

A Colmar Brunton poll from December 2018 (the Better Futures Report) shows that 72% of Kiwis are concerned about plastic waste.

I have identified this issue separately because it seems that significant change could be made quickly. NZ has made a useful start in addressing plastic waste by restricting the use of single use plastic bags. However in terms of the sheer volume of waste, plastic bags comprise just a small part of that. A study in Australia found that for every 1,000 square metres (or about four tennis courts), Australians litter about 49 pieces of rubbish. The biggest culprits are drink containers, making up five of the top nine recorded pieces of litter by volume. There is nothing to suspect that the proportion of plastic drink containers in our environment is much less here. One way to reduce this litter is to refund people when they deposit drink containers for recycling through container deposit recycling (CDR) schemes. In Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory have CDR schemes and more recently New South Wales commenced a CDR scheme in 2017. Those of us who are a little older may not be surprised by the adoption of such schemes and may well remember the refunds that were made on the return of some soft drink bottles in New Zealand last century. The Auckland Council initiated a report in 2017 examining what might be the results if Auckland introduced a Container Deposit Recycle (CDR) Scheme.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Container Deposit Scheme (the Sapere Research Group - August 2017) They estimate that the change in recycling rates would be huge with the report estimating an increase in container return rates, with these lifting to 79-82% from an existing rate of 45-58% for the number of containers. This would represent additional recycling of between 21,415 and 61,549 tonnes.

The report also identifies that society would be better off by between $184 and $645 million over a ten year period by the adoption of such a scheme.

The Sapere Report has been in existence for over 18 months now. It is overdue that Council takes action to address the issue of plastic waste while continuing to also address other waste, the disposal of which is causing significant cost to Aucklanders.

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Younger Persons Issues

Many of our younger residents have realised that climate change could drastically change society as we know it and have demonstrated in an attempt to cause change. As I have spoken of elsewhere I have and will continue to speak strongly to effect change to reduce carbon emissions.

To allow younger people to move safely around our suburbs I will advocate for good pedestrian access and cycling lanes. Skypath and Seapath are two projects on our doorstep that will make the city more accessible and strong advocacy seems required to ensure there completion.

Public transport is often a mode of transport. I will continue to campaign strongly for cheap yearly or monthly passes that allow a holder to travel all day/ every day at no extra cost.

Affordable housing whether it is rental accommodation or purchasing is an important issue. Intensification done well can reinvigorate our town centres; provide a greater customer base for local businesses; and allow people to buy into our suburbs at a lesser cost than purchasing a house.

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Iwi Issues

The development that has occurred in Hillary Crescent in Belmont is providing much needed housing in the local area and the remainder of this development is welcomed. The Local Board should continue to work with local iwi to provide much needed housing aligned with public transport travel solutions.

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Responsible Council Spending

Auckland is obviously facing cost pressures as it struggles to provide extra infrastructure for a quickly growing city. It is therefore important that spending decisions are made appropriately.

The Takapuna Parking Strategy of 2014 stated that AT should manage parking in Takapuna by reducing the number of long stay parks and this would provide adequate parking for many years. Almost immediately and contrary to all the requirements of the Auckland Transport Parking Strategy, Council, with the Mayor leading the charge, decided to build a car park. The cost is a mind boggling $30 million including land cost.

I have been involved in long running correspondence with Auckland Council / Auckland Transport (AT) regarding the new Gasometer Car Park building. Full details of my complaint are outlined elsewhere on this website.

It is little wonder that annual rate increases are above the annual rate of inflation and that we are also foisted with targeted rates. Real pressure is being caused to those in our communities on fixed incomes such as pensioners and beneficiaries; as well as to those on lower incomes.

There should be a move to high quality spending that addresses the priorities of our communities rather than narrow interest groups.

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About Me

I was born and raised in the Hawkes Bay and educated at Massey University. I gained a Business Studies degree and a Diploma in Dispute Resolution. I first moved to Auckland in my early twenties, working in employment relations and variously lived in Sandringham, Mt Eden and Epsom. Work opportunities then took me away from Auckland and I worked in management roles in a number of businesses running, first single business units with turnover of up to $10 million and then multiple business units with a turnover of $20 million. Ten years ago we moved back to Auckland and have resided in Takapuna, most recently beginning the renovation of an older house near the town centre.

A family photograph

I am currently employed as an employment mediator; my wife works in early childhood education; our two adult girls (graduates of AUT and Auckland University) are working in marketing roles; and our teenage son works for a North Shore business as he saves for University. Our two youngest children still live with us.

My interests are in maintaining a good level of fitness (you may see us walking extensively around Takapuna, Milford and Devonport) and I am also a passionate advocate for better public transport and environmental issues around Auckland.


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