Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Waitemata Local Board Auckand

Today I accepted nomination for a seat on the Waitemata Ward. I will put community back into community, local back into local.

The Waitemata Ward needs a strong, positive and collaborative voice at the table to push for a vibrant, prosperous Auckland. I want to be part of making a ward that empowers and works and that promotes democracy as a foundation for our growth and prosperity. I want a ward that makes sure it gets the basics right.

I am enjoying meeting and talking to residents in the Waitemata Ward as I discuss my key policy aims. These aims include solid infrastructure, affordable rates, resilience against the risks we may face, and having the features we expect of a leading city. A city that can be, and I believe is, the first city of the Pacific. Please check out my blog Gerry O’ Ponsonby and my website GerryHill.co.nz for more information. I walk my talk.

I understand the economic importance of Tourism, Heritage, Arts and Culture and the opportunities they bring to local communities. They also help sustain small businesses and provide jobs in our communities. Perhaps more importantly, their influence cannot be underestimated in providing a sense of time and place, which will anchor future generations and speak for ours.

Getting the basics right isn’t just a feel-good tagline. Rather, it is focusing on the core things that make a city liveable. I was staggered when Auckland Council steamed on with their Unitary Plan earlier this year, after 22,700 citizens made submissions on the plan. There is plenty of work to be done to cement our reputation as a most liveable city in the World.

I was disappointed with the Council Officers’ refusal to provide Councillor Coney with information in relation to the Unitary Plan. This was wrong and will not look after the interests of the public. Elected councillors act for those who know that the Unitary Plan will affect the long term interests of their families and community. Management should have neither right nor ability to withhold vital information required for council decision making. At a local board level I will support democracy at all levels of Council and community.

Intensification is happening in our ward, and the important thing is that we have guidelines and make provision for our new residents. I am therefore committed to the Nosh Site at 254 Ponsonby Road becoming a full park with public amenities. Intensification also provides wonderful opportunities for mainstreet businesses, public amenities and life. I support maximising these opportunities as long as it remains within the public interest.
We need to discuss effective transportation options and why there has been limited progress on cycle lanes and walking routes from suburbs into the CBD. To this end I support cycle lanes along the link bus route. Walking would become more popular if we a net work connecting the entire heritage walks from the central city to the suburbs and throughout the city. This will show case some of the best of Auckland and will increase civic pride.
   The Government commitment to the inner-city rail link, although welcome, was begrudging and has more holes it than an old cardigan. Bus routes and quality of services require more effort. A tram line from Wynyard to Britomart would be economic, for example.

Wellington has had, and is still having, a rough old time but most Wellingtonians are prepared. They had emergency kits and their emergency services and civil defence worked. Their earthquakes have led me to think that, thankfully, we have not had earthquakes in the Waitemata Ward, however, a recent tornado did cause loss of life and we do have slips and landslides. Part of our civil defence discussion must also be about what we are to do if Rangitoto erupts.

Thankfully, Wellington was able to stand up to events and their Council had a key role in mitigating the risks. I will work to help build resilient communities and a board that has the resolve to ensure we are well placed to deal with adversity. The Unitary Plan has scant mention of civil defence and emergency services. If you elect me to the Waitemata ward we will sort this failure.

Gerry Hill,
Your proudly independent candidate for the Waitemata Ward
Please contact by email gerrydhill@gmail.com or by phone or text at 021 659111


Friday, July 12, 2013

Auckland Public Hospital

On Friday evening fifth of July   I was rushed to Auckland Hospital with an acute problem and just was discharged on Tuesday  9 July .
 Auckland Hospital is a first world and first-class hospital, and their duty of care exceeded my expectations. Their point of difference was the professionalism and extreme warmth from the cleaners, nurses, doctors and surgeons. The nursing staff were of many different nationalities and were friendly and good-humoured to the multiracial patients, including speaking to other patients in their first language.
Many people are critical of our healthcare system, but I can only commend it, from my arrival at triage through to the operating theatre and ward I was staying in. I was also surprised by the quality of the food, which was far better than I had expected. If your doctor recommends going to Auckland Hospital, have no fear. Based on my experience you will get not only the best treatment but your expectations will be exceeded.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Begging: It is a tricky issue.

This was published  as a  letter in the New  Zealand Herald today Thursday, 4 July.

Begging, like child prostitution, is an awkward issue for people to discuss. It is emotive and brings out the best and worst in people’s thoughts.
Some see it as an industry and some folk see them as bludgers. To others they are victims, many of whom have mental health and other health issues. Few believe that these people are employable and many of us who get to know them a little understand that there are bigger issues involved. Some of these people were actually servicemen.
We have lost two of these people in Ponsonby and Krangahape Rd in the last two years. Both Margaret and Robbie had well attended funerals and all who attended were surprised at how normal their lives had once been.
Others, like Wellington’s Blanket Man, slowly died of malnutrition over many years. Some cried for him but many didn’t notice or care.
To address this issue it is best managed by agencies, the councils and the central government. Local communities live with street people every day and Central government and City Hall may have the solution in their hands.
Benefit changes last year tightened the access to some benefits which may well have been responsible for a lift in the numbers of people begging and involved in child prostitution. There is anecdotal evidence that many of these teenagers selling themselves and the people begging are no longer   eligible for benefits that they previously had.
With Councillor Casey and other prominent Auckland citizens on Thursday night I’m sleeping rough to highlight the big issue of homelessness and to raise funds for Lifewise (bigsleepout.org.nz) who work to alleviate the problems of the homeless and find a sustainable solution.   Check out Gerry Hll fundraising on this site.