Auckland Floods January 2023 - Landslip - stable or unstable?

Auckland’s January Floods – Can You Fix It? – Part 1

Auckland’s January floods certainly put Auckland Council under the spotlight. Wayne Brown, the freshly inaugurated Mayor of Auckland, has been in office for nearly four months and is now facing his most significant challenge to date with the recent Auckland floodings.

Although I am not personally acquainted with the Mayor, I recall his tenure as Mayor of the Far North District a decade or so ago, during which time I lived in the idyllic Bay of Islands. I was serving as a part-time adviser for a property developer friend seeking to build a tourist and cultural center that would include a hotel, theatre, and indoor marketplace for local merchants. Unfortunately, the project was bogged down in council bureaucracy for several years, causing my friend to eventually abandon the venture. The planning and application fees alone had cost him over $300,000 and proved to be an exorbitant waste of resources for a project that had the potential to serve as a cultural and tourist hub for Kerikeri and create many job opportunities for the local community. Although this story could warrant further exploration, it is not the focus of today’s discussion.

So back to the story, as the rains battered Auckland, one can’t help but wonder if our city’s infrastructure is equipped to handle the deluge. The recent floods have claimed four precious lives and left residents grappling with the aftermath. But what’s more concerning is the lack of foresight in planning policies that are sacrificing our green spaces for cramped, multi-unit dwellings. The loss of lawns, trees, and plantings only exacerbates the already overflowing issue of excess water.

And while the mayor, Wayne Brown, seeks to stifle discussions with the media (credit Newshub), one can’t help but question his leadership and priorities. After announcing rate increases that hit the wallets of Auckland’s ratepayers, many are left feeling the pinch of poor decisions made at the council. For those of us who live in the countryside (me included), with no access to town services, the burden of paying exorbitant rates without receiving basic amenities is even more frustrating.

Unfortunately we too had experienced a rather large landslip resulting from the downpours, albeit on our neighbours land. The slip is close to our property boundary, if not slightly on it, and although no damage was evident to our driveway or studio I can’t say that I wasn’t concerned of further slips last weekend. I have lodged a claim with our insurer just in case the slip proves to be more problematic than first thought, but three days later the same insurer referred me to the Earthquake Commission (EQC) as it’s land related. Now for the cherry on top of the unwanted cake, the land with the majority – ïf not all of the land slip on it is owner by Auckland Transport (aka Auckland Council) and is classified as a paper road; basically an unmaintained piece of land that could one day host a proper road. Today I called Auckland Transport and explained the damage and they have referred the matter to their compliance team. Shall we run a sweepstake to see what transpires next and when? All will be revealed in Part 2 of this story.

Is it already time for a change? Did Auckland operate better with smaller council districts before they were all amalgamated into one all-encompassing ‘super city’ council?

I can’t help but feeling we need to rethink our planning, development, infrastructure and management approach for Auckland. Where is Auckland heading? Does anyone know?

Stay safe Aucklanders!

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