It’s Friday again and it’s been nice having a few weeks respite from the politics – though that ends this afternoon with the release of the official election results. In the meantime, here’s some of the articles that caught our attention this week.

This week in Greater Auckland

Auckland Council Adopts New Future Development Strategy

Earlier this year the council consulted on a change to it’s future development strategy which looked to pare back some of the previously planned greenfield development in favour of more development in existing suburbs. The change was particularly opposed by the likes of sprawl building companies and land bankers.

Yesterday the council adopted the plan after some Councillors tried unsuccessfully to delay it.

Radio NZ reports:

Auckland Council has adopted a plan for how the city is expected to grow over the next 30 years.

At a meeting of the Planning, Environment, and Parks Committee this morning, council heard strong support for its draft Future Development Strategy (FDS), which looks at building housing across the city.

About 10,084 submissions were received on the draft.

The Future Development Strategy recommended building most new housing in existing suburbs (referred to as brownfield development) instead of undeveloped land (greenfield development), to reduce emissions and avoid high infrastructure costs.

Significant changes had been proposed as a result of the consultation, including a stronger focus on adapting to flooding hazards and the protection of life and property.

A greater recognition of the financial challenges facing Auckland Council and ratepayers was also included after consultation.


Brown said the population of Auckland was growing at a rate that infrastructure could not keep up with.

“At least with in-fill, you are using infrastructure which is here,” he said.

“The trouble with greenfields is that, whilst the developers put the infrastructure in within the actual subdivision itself, that subdivision demands more – stuff that we have to pay for.”

Auckland Council cont.

Speaking of council, they’ve now appointed a new CEO.

Mayor Wayne Brown has today announced the appointment of Phil Wilson as Auckland Council’s new Chief Executive.

“It is Phil’s depth of knowledge of the politics of local government and how the council works that makes him the right candidate.

“Appointing from within the council’s executive does not mean business as usual. His long association with the council, in both organisational leadership and political office roles, forms a solid foundation for making the type of change needed to deliver for Aucklanders.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman has called out the council’s ‘Secret Wednesday’ workshops.

Most weeks at Auckland Council include ‘Secret Wednesday’.

It is the day set aside for “workshops” or briefings where councillors and officials meet behind closed doors to digest reports on current issues, bounce ideas and questions around, and get up to speed.

The workshop topics are not published in advance, and while formal material presented may be released a month or so later, the detailed nature of discussions is not recorded or disclosed.

It is a practice which in one form or another the council has run since its formation in 2010, and which occasionally, in response to challenges, defends as being in line with public information statutes.


A report by the Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier on the practices of eight local bodies, calls out much of the way Auckland Council works, even though it was not one of the councils he studied. In his words workshops should not automatically be confidential:

  • I do not consider controversy, complexity, or the potential for embarrassment, to be good reasons in themselves. Difficult or contentious issues are often the very ones that warrant the greatest level of transparency.
  • On workshops being a “safe space to ask silly questions”: Councillors are elected to public office, a position that demands accountability. They should be prepared for a level of scrutiny and even reasonable criticism from those they represent.
  • I also caution against workshops including a significant component of determination, such as a substantial narrowing of options prior to public consultation.

Boshier’s recommendations are particularly relevant to Auckland Council.

  • Adopt a principle of openness by default for all workshops (and briefings, forums etc), including a commitment to record a clear basis for closure where justified, on a case-by-case basis.
  • Make sure the time, dates, venues, and subject matter, of all workshops are publicised in advance, along with rationale for closing them where applicable.

What happens to the bus shelters

Stuff reports:

The future of 1,000 privately-owned Auckland bus shelters is unclear as the advertising contract which funded them, is up for grabs.

Sydney-based Oooh Media built and owns the shelters, in deals originally struck with former Auckland councils 20 years ago, in return for the right to use them as advertising sites, and share the revenue.

That deal is coming to an end, after Auckland Transport (AT), which took over the shelters under the city’s 2010 local body amalgamation, put the advertising rights for the entire network, out to competitive tender.

Cash strapped AT believes hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue could flow its way from new long-term contracts, not just for bus shelters, but existing and future signage on buses and at facilities.

With the lucrative shelter contract yet to be decided, both oOh and AT are not saying much about what would happen to the shelters if a new agency wins.


Alongside the bus shelter contract, is one currently held by Mediaworks covering about 100 digital screens across the public transport network, all bus and train exterior advertising and activations at bus and train stations.

AT also saw great appeal in major downtown train stations that will be part of the underground City Rail Link, due to start in 2026.

But will he use it?

Battery powered freight trains

This is neat, I wonder how long before we see this becoming much more common.

Wabtec and Australian mining firm Roy Hill have unveiled world’s first 100% battery-powered, heavy-haul locomotive for mainline service in ceremonies today (Oct. 31, 2023) at Wabtec’s Erie manufacturing facility.

The FLXdrive locomotive contains 72 lithium-ion modular battery packs with a total of 36,288 cells, giving the locomotive an energy capacity of 7 megawatt-hours.


Currently, Roy Hill uses four Wabtec ES44ACi Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotives to pull its 240-car ore trains from the mine to a company-owned port facility. The FLXdrive locomotive will replace one of the diesels in the consist. The line’s profile sees empties moving upgrade and loaded 33,000-ton ore trains returning downgrade. Roy Hill expects the battery-powered locomotive will be able to fully recharge its batteries on the downhill run using regenerative braking.

Fake Suburbs

The Spinoff has called out fake suburbs in Auckland.

When people questioned the legitimacy of my new suburb, I set out to find all the other fake suburbs in Auckland.

I recently moved to the Auckland suburb of Waterview, but several people I told – all lifelong Aucklanders who had lived or worked nearby – were unaware the suburb existed. They asked questions like “Isn’t that Point Chev?” and “Are you just moving to Mount Albert?” One even called Waterview a fake suburb. As a Waterview patriot, I huffed and puffed that it is genuine and not a phoney place like Australia.

People questioning the legitimacy of Waterview made me wonder which Auckland suburbs could be considered fake, and there are many. With an incoming cut-hungry National-led government plus mayor Wayne Brown’s wish to streamline Auckland, now is the perfect time to reduce the number of Supercity suburbs – starting by removing the fake ones. Tāmaki Makaurau already has too many suburbs as it is without the added murkiness of barely-there postcodes.

The definition of a suburb is super arbitrary, and often, their boundaries are too. So, for the greater good of Tāmaki Makaurau-Auckland, I will arbitrarily deregister several so-called suburbs once and for all in the name of cuts and efficiency.

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  1. Finally! Somebody else is on the badwagon of fake suburbs. I thought I was the only one – some more fake suburbs include: Morningside (is it just a train station and a pub), Newton (already covered, but seriously since that shit road got buit, Newton is gone), Arch Hill (just the pump track and bush), Kingsland (could almost be counted in this fakeness, but at least in has a ‘village’ area of sorts), Fruitvale (another just a train station suburb), The difference between the Wynyard Quarter / North Wharf / Britomart / Downtown? / Viaduct??????

    1. Three Kings (home to the Mount Roskill library and local board)
      Royal Oak (its Onehunga isn’t it?)
      Wesley (Mount Roskill)

      A lot of the fake suburbs are actually real suburbs of a former city or borough that itself is now a suburb of the super city. Three Kings, Owairaka, Wesley and Roskill South are all suburbs of the former Mt Roskill Borough.

    2. As someone that has researched place and suburb names in Auckland, it’s a bit of a tricky situation. Often suburb names are conflated with location or place names, which causes confusion; as an example, Three Lamps is a ‘location’ rather than a suburb. Arch Hill is now part of what we call Grey Lynn, but at the turn of the 20th century was it’s own town and had it’s own borough council – hence the suburb name of today. We also need to make clear what the difference is between a suburb name and the developers name for a subdivision.

      In addition it doesn’t help that for many years it was the NZ Fire Service that allocated and decided suburb names. Most council’s avoided doing an official process as it was contentions and required going through the NZ Geographic Naming Board processes.

      One thing that we need to acknowledge that as cities grow and change, so do place names. Some will stay in place, and others will disappear. It’s just what happens.

    3. I actually thought Puhinui was a suburb for a long time then turns out it’s just Papatoetoe but there are number of shops & a school named as such.

  2. Nice to learn that CRL is supporting our very threatened native trees, Boston Road is the first area to welcome this new wave of greenery. Passers-by will now see the beloved flame tree surrounded by native species, spanning from Boston Road roundabout towards Boston Road East. Crews have planted 13 tī kōuka trees, 3 kahikatea trees, and 35 cabbage trees, all grown at Blackbridge and Pourewa nurseries.
    In the next planting season, native species including whau, pōhutukawa, and puriri trees will be planted along Porters Avenue,
    They might also consider our beautiful Karaka, Rimu, Rewarewa, Fushia, Kowhai, Akeake, Kawakawa, Manuka, Matai, Miro, Mahoe, Titoki, Toetoe, Totara, Rangiora, Rata, Pukatea, Raupo.

    1. I had the great pleasure to be very surprised on my cycle home yesterday at rush hour to hear and see a couple of vocal tuis in the puriris on Quay St near Princes Wharf. First time I’ve seen them there.

      thank you AKL Council for the excellent tree and shrub planting in the city.

      Now they’ve just got to get some protection back in place to counter the slaughter of what residential tree cover we have remaining.

  3. I realised the weird nature of NZ’s undefined suburbs in 2013 when moving to somewhere near Unitec – I had house documents over the decades before identifying its location as being part of Mt Albert, Waterview and Avondale respectively…

    [PS: Waterview IS real. Mt Albert is a bit of a fiction though, if a well-craftedone.]

  4. “The trouble with greenfields is that, whilst the developers put the infrastructure in within the actual subdivision itself, that subdivision demands more – stuff that we have to pay for.”

    Something that strikes me about all these modern developments is how they all have bike lanes. Often, in fact, separated bike lanes. And then as soon as they get into the pre-existing road network… nothing.

    I’d suggest making the developers pay to have bike lanes installed all the way to the nearest train station/pre-existing bike lane connected to one, say, but we know the problem there isn’t that developers would throw a fit with such a requirement, it’s that AC/AT would.

    1. Spot on. AT would bend over backwards to make sure a developer couldn’t put in safe cycle lanes for a new development.

  5. Love the fake suburbs one. While those are not legitimate suburbs it is convenient to use them for more precise identification of the place. Some of them such as Wynyard, Hobsonville Point are commercially forced by developers and building companies, some of them a derelict like Newton. There’s even a children’s book on Newton “Barkell and Mr. Arkell; The Forgotten Suburb and Stories of Newton East”.

    1. To further complicate things LINZ have very closely defined named suburb/ locations. Which actually has Wynyard and Saint Mary’s Bay as suburbs/locations. One site on Ponsonby Road is in Freemans Bay but its neighbours on both sides are in Ponsonby!
      Their GIS map has multiple interesting layers for those with time to browse.

  6. Suburb names are such fun. Geographic Naming Board, NZ Post and FENZ all require consistent naming for place-finding. People just like to choose names for where they live or do business – Birkenhead trails up the hill from the ferry until at the top it reaches where Highbury House once was, and everyone is happy with that for the Local Centre.
    Naming is contentious – I agree with the restoration of historical spelling – the modern ‘unifying’ use of macrons does go against strong traditions of those iwi who chose double-vowel spelling.
    Developers and Councils tend to adopt ‘working title’ names for developments or project areas, that then come into popular usage (or not). These often do not go through the official naming process, and can or should be changed later – but this can be too late for popular use. This accounts for many of the ‘fake’ (or unofficial) names called out in the article.
    So how about: License suburb names so that developers or real estate agents can ‘invent’ their suburb – but pay for the privilege?

  7. Here’s something from the media. For me it demonstrates what a rational economic approach to development looks like. It’s about line companies needing to supply more infrastructure as we decarbonise. The Commissioner talks about demand management. Why aren’t we having that conversation regarding roads instead of building highways with a BCR barely above zero?

    “Commissioner Vhari McWha, says the general need for substantial investment by lines companies is clear.

    “Networks will need to grow and adapt to meet new demands from the increasing electrification of transport and industrial process heat as well as connecting new local generation.

    “At the same time, they will need to prepare for an expected increase in extreme weather events and keep up with regular upgrades of ageing assets.”

    Ms McWha says the potential costs to consumers are significant and this means “it is more important than ever that we ensure the plans and investment decisions of lines companies are in the long-term interests of consumers.

    “Decisions made by lines companies in the coming period will have an enduring impact on future electricity bills, so it is critical that proposed investment is prudent, efficient, and to the long-term benefit of consumers. This includes making best use of existing capacity and fully exploring options such as demand side management and batteries.”.

    This need for increased investment comes at a time when there are other upward pressures on electricity bills, including higher interest rates and inflation.”

  8. I believe that sometimes things just need to be left alone with only the required maintainance.

    I believe this is one of this times.

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