As of today, I am resigning from all roles at Greater Auckland. 

I am delighted, and humbled, to advise that my application for a directorship on the NZTA board has been accepted. I am looking forward to working with my fellow board members and all the staff at the agency and its partners, to help deliver this important work for the whole nation.

In part, along with other governance roles I have undertaken, and writing and speaking elsewhere, it is through contributions to GA that I have earned this opportunity. So I feel I owe you all a thank-you.

I leave GA in the more than capable hands of Matt and Heidi. There will no doubt be others to follow, those who add guest posts, and of course all you who contribute to the comment threads. I will remain a keenly interested reader, I look forward to your continuing insights. 

Looking back eight years to my first GA blog post  is a bit sobering because it is one of those changes yet to be realised. But at least it doesn’t read as ingenue; rather the observations and general thrust of the post still stand, and is surely one the city is close to enacting (everything in this field takes so much longer than you’d think necessary).

But elsewhere a great deal has happened or is happening that we championed, that if I had been offered the current/underway Auckland a decade ago, in most cases, I would be amazed and delighted; would have gladly grasped it. 

But perhaps the most important effect of the ongoing work at GA is the widening of possibility; what once was considered by many to be unrealistic is becoming mainstream, and really quite fast. Much of this is zeitgeist, but even if at GA we suddenly found ourselves swimming more with tide rather than against it, we also had a decent hand in shifting perspectives too. Furthermore this is just continuing, accelerating, the direction of travel is clear.

Looking back, there are two changes in Auckland that I feel GA had no small hand making possible: The CRL and the commitment to retro-fitting a complete Rapid Transit Network to the city:

  1. That the CRL is actually underway, and has improved through the detailed design process, is hugely rewarding and exciting. It was this project in particular that we were focussed on supporting, and in many ways brought us together in the beginning, back when it had little official support. I still pinch myself when I see the work sites. This magnificent project is already changing Auckland for the better, both through the new upgraded spaces about to open next year, and by showing that the traffic we are used to on city streets is often unnecessary, discretionary, and can be permanently displaced by higher value uses. I predict it will ultimately transform the very nature of the city in ways most can’t imagine, and so much for the better
  2. That it is now accepted that Auckland must complete a full Rapid Transit Network, and that it is as a Network, not just as individual routes or modes, that this must be conceived, constructed, operated, and communicated. This is now standard and official policy, as enshrined in ATAP, and is, thanks to the new government and the regional fuel tax, funded, is a startling change from not so long ago. Of course this is a long term process, but one, in my view, of international significance already. Why? Because it will, once all lines are complete, be a model of how to successfully retro-fit a full mixed-mode RT network to a maturely auto-dependent, democratic, and relatively sprawly city. 

I am very excited to now be expanding my focus beyond Auckland to other our cities and regions, especially as this is a time of big change for infrastructure investment and transport patterns.

So it is with gratitude to my colleagues at GA, its readers and contributors, and the wider urbanist community, that I move on to this greater challenge. 

Ngā mihi nui 

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62 comments

  1. All the best for your future role on the NZTA board Patrick, we all know you’ll be a fantastic addition and will strive to make a positive difference for better transport.

  2. Awesome, best of luck. It’s a shame to lose you from the civvy side, but this is the real thing, and we can sleep easy knowing that the right minds are helping to bring the change from within.

    Thanks for everything.

  3. When the news came through on your appointment Patrick it was one of excitement and congratulations.

    I know you and I don’t agree on everything but that is the nature of democracy – a contest of ideas to propel in this case Auckland forward.

    Your post is an indictment against Auckland Transport and its lack of leadership over the years on one hand (Queen Street) but also moments of successes as well (the Interchanges, Eastern Busway and A2B). But such as the polarity of City Building.

    Also I think we all know the appointment is a great one the way Bridges, Bishop and Hooton were all embarrassing themselves silly over on the Tweeters.

  4. Well done Patrick. I knew you would get the NZTA Board role. Its the place I told you some time back, you should be. Go well and look forward to seeing the changes your presence there will produce.

  5. When I read the stuff article about your appointment to the NZTA board my initial thoughts were surprise as I was convinced a major qualification for board membership was to possess some corporate directorship experience and have zero interest or knowledge in matters transport.
    To actually appoint someone who is enthusiastic concerning public transport is a wonderful break from tradition and I hope means we can look to a future where NZTA funds more PT projects and less massive roading schemes.
    Although I have not always agreed with your PT opinions, such as your opposition to extending AT metro HR rail services on western line to Huapai, I do fully support your appointment to the NZTA board.
    I look forward to your leadership steering NZTA to improve PT in New Zealand.

    1. Patrick has several years observing the AT board. He has many years running his own business/brand. Governance is a mindset more than anything else. He’s been involved and done the IOD training.

      Having a “corporate” mindset would only reduce the potential perspective of his views and voice on the NZTA board.

      The most important thing is that he has a critical mind and deep concern for NZ.

  6. Fantastic news for transport options in New Zealand. Getting the board mix right is an important step in NZTA being a “transport agency” not just a “road building agency”.

  7. I am excited for you Patrick and I am excited that you will help bring the ‘Auckland model’ to the rest of New Zealand. Well done!

  8. This is wonderful news for you personally and for the country as a whole. We need voices that question “but we have always done it this way” and strive for a fairer, equitable range of transport choices for all. Our children deserve better for the future than a reading lobby backed organisation have offered thus far. Congratulations

  9. Congratulations! Thank you for all your efforts and contributions. I (probably with many others here) do hope, that now you’ll be able to help to drive the change for the better for the whole country. Best of luck!

  10. Fantastic news Patrick. You’ll be a valuable asset to Phil and Julie Ann Genter (I hope they both recommended you for the board).

    I hope you can promote light rail much faster. Don’t forget there’s an election next year.

  11. Congratulations again and thanks for all your hard work over the years to make Auckland a better place to live.

    I’ve enjoyed many of your posts & still come across some of the older ones I haven’t read yet prior to me discovering the blog.

    All the best in NZTA this will be good not just for Auckland of course but the whole of NZ. I wonder if in the future you will end up on the AT board, not sure if that would be a move up or not.

  12. Patrick, well done on your appointment. Your work has been instrumental in achieving what has been occured.

    “what once was considered by many to be unrealistic is becoming mainstream, and really quite fast.”

    I hope that we are not constrained by comparisons with what has been, but rather we see what might be. I have recently had the good fortune to visit Vienna, with an urban population not dissimilar to Auckland. As Auckland annual PT trips have just passed 100 million, Vienna closes in on 1 billion. From their current base they are adding more trips per year than Auckland.

    We should be able to add to patronage at a rate somewhere between 15 and 20% per year with our current infrastructure, adding buses (electric) as required. It will require diverting more money from roads into PT. How much more could have been achieved rather than the $700 million being spent by NZTA on the Northern motorway extension? I look forward to seeing a change in direction.

  13. All the best. I’ve seen you on TV a few times always presenting a well thought out and robust argument and there is no doubt that without the perseverance of yourself and those like you Auckland public transport would still be stalled back in the 80’s.

  14. Congratulations – a brilliant appointment. You’ve been an extraordinary advocate and it’s great to see your deep understanding will now be heard at the top table.

  15. Dear Patrick,
    There are very few places around the world to have such wonderful and thorough civil advocacy for sustainable transport as Greater Auckland. Even though I’m coming from 16’000 km away from where you are, I’ve been following the developments and I’m glad to see things going in the good direction. It’s great to see how transformational your input has been.
    I believe that there’s no better time and place for any professional to act within the government than when the government is willing to share the same values and ideas with the professionals involved. I’m sure that you’ll be a great addition to the NZTA, and I hope you’ll be able to do more for New Zealand from there.
    Congratulations, and best of luck!

  16. Congratulations Patrick , I hope you can give other cities around the country that use to have commuter rail a hand to get it reinstated .

  17. Patrick, it has been an honour to blog and advocate with you over the last six years. You’ve been a tireless, enthusiastic, eloquent champion for a better city and strategic vision. I’m glad to see you will now be able to apply those skills and thinking to the NZTA board.

    You’ve taught us a great deal since 2013, but I think your greatest teaching is that people wearing hats can make an informed contribution to Auckland policy debate. Personally, I think you should keep it on in the board meetings.

    Congrats on the well-deserved appointment!

  18. Congratulations Patrick, I’m thrilled you made it on. You will be such an asset to that board! This is very exciting news for Auckland, and for Aotearoa. Keep up the great kaupapa.

  19. Congratulation Patrick, I am grateful for all your work with GA, and am thrilled that you are stepping into this new role at NZTA. All the best to affect positive change. We are so lucky to have such a strong advocacy group that you have helped build.

  20. Thank you for your leadership and for your contribution to the CFN. We hope that you will be able to continue your good works in the National organisation in implementing the long needed changes to our future.
    Congratulations and we hope that you and your family are able to enjoy this change.

  21. Fantastic news – it has really cheered me up. Just loved Bridges’ comments about it being “farcical” – I know you will make him eat humble pie.

  22. Obviously this is exciting news for Patrick, but who’s actually left in GA? It seems there are only ever posts about members leaving… and of the two new additions I can remember (Heidi and Harriet) only one still seems actively involved?

  23. Patrick, This is such marvellous news and thank you for everything you have done on Greater Auckland and will do at the NZTA. Hurrah!

  24. Well done Patrick. Mā te wā e whakakite ngā hua o āu mahi nunui.
    Enjoy the job Patrick, push them to change before a future National government replaces you with a party yes man.

  25. Essentially to echo previous posters, but thank you so much for your hard mahi on behalf of everyone to change Auckland for the better. You have been and continue to be inspirational (though I will miss your prolific and insightful tweeting!)

    Best of luck in cleaning out the NZTA and creating positive change for all of NZ 🙂

  26. It is a bit rich to take credit for CRL, noone on the CRL board nor executive team, nor the hundreds of staff that have worked tirelessly over the past 9 years to deliver this project would credit GA or Greater Auckland in any way.

    Many vocalists have supported or ridiculed the project over the years, but like you, none could take credit in any way shape or form.

    Please put your huge ego aside. You may find that NZTA have selected on a ‘keep thy enemies closest platform’ to mute your otherwise unqualified views.

    1. The mayor credited GA at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

      The CRL board, executive team and workers only existed once the project was approved and funded. They wouldn’t know much at all about what it took to get it approved.

  27. Holy crap, the State are in the habit of giving activists and mouthy people full-time jobs just to shut them up?

    I hereby announce to all parties that I will also accept a full-time role on any State board in exchange for promising to shut up.

    (Congrats, Patrick, let us know how we can help you bore away from the inside.)

  28. Best wishes for your new role. I hope you will be allowed to make a real difference and provide some connected up thinking for the board.

  29. As a rate payer I am appalled at this appointment.
    Auckland has real transport problems and NZTA need to appoint experienced professionals to these positions, not eager hobbyists.
    We would all raise an eyebrow if Air New Zealand appointed plane spotters to their board, this is exactly the same situation.
    I would be very interested to know what professional qualifications Patrick has that made him a suitable candidate. No offence intended, but being a blogger does not make someone an expert – look at Trump as an example of that.

    1. Patrick is professional director, has been for years. He is certified with the Institute of Directors and also sits on four other boards.

      If you are looking for experts in transport then the new appointments of Patrick and Victoria are by far the most experienced and knowledgeable.

      Look at the background of the outgoing members, no knowledge of transport at all, just accountants, lawyers and petrol company execs. You should be appalled as a ratepayer.

    2. And what leads you to believe that Air NZ is not full of “plane spotters” (not a real thing, trainspotting monopolised such an expression)? Also one would expect Fletchers to fill their board with construction experts, but they clearly did not do that did they. If by enthusiast you mean actually cares, it may be a good thing to have said enthusiasm in the obviously gloomy corridors of the transport mothership. That said I am yet to be convinced that any board is particularly any other thing than self serving.

    1. As I understand it, Patrick deleted his twitter account a while ago, so Peters must have been being trolled about an old tweet. Are people who have publicly commented forever barred from holding senior positions, Robin? That doesn’t seem like a free society.

  30. Best of luck Patrick. I served four years on the board of the predecessor, LTNZ. The work is really important and you have the skills and aptitude for the job as well as the right world view.

    All the best.

  31. Congratulations. I’ve always appreciated your vision, grounded in reality. Words = actions. I left Auckland four years ago but read GA all the time, return often, and am always excited by what I see and experience. I never felt that way about the City when I arrived in 2001.

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