There is much more about the Unitary Plan that gives cause for reflection on where this Council is taking our communities.
Our cows danced a jig in the paddock, leaving their calves looking on, seemingly bemused.  The sheep put their head and shoulders in to their shelters but left their rear ends exposed, perhaps to secure the benefits without having to face it head on.

After nearly eight weeks of drying winds and relentless sun, we too celebrated the arrival of rain last week.

IMG_1173We were grateful for the 37mm deluge that added 11,000 litres of water to our tanks and thankful that we suffered no lasting damage from the rain or the drought.

But the rain did not fall in such volumes in nearby Pokeno.  Other areas remain a seared depression of baked dirt.

The yet unbroken drought has caused financial distress to many who earn their living off the land.

Distress of a different kind was caused to our friends in the city where the drought turned the city brown, doing nothing to enrich the world’s most liveable city-to-be.

And now we hear that electricity prices may rise later in the year because of the drought.

Climate change is like that – inconsistent impacts with significant consequences.

Few remain who do not view the growing number of extreme weather events a consequence of climate change.  Even fewer are those who look at the consequences of climate change.  Almost non-existent are those who actually plan for the impact that climate change will wrought on our communities.

That lack is clearly evident in the Auckland Council’s draft Unitary Plan.

In giving more weight to the racialisation of Auckland than the more pressing issue of climate change, the Council do all ratepayers and residents a disservice.

Please do not get me wrong.  This is not a rant against the Maorification of Auckland.

My internal alarm bells do ring when I see specific and open-ended policies requiring developers to have “a methodology for … protecting Māori cultural landscapes” and for the referral of complying planning applications to Mana Whenua.

My objection is that this “Blueprint for Auckland” gives these issues more weight than developing community resilience to the impacts of climate change.  The Unitary Plan could do things like encouraging the installation of solar water heaters and water storage tanks.

But this is not the only area where Mana Whenua are focused on to the exclusion of others in Auckland.

In the Regional Policy Statement, half of the references to economic development apply only to Maori.  Economic development in rural zones gets mentioned only once.  In the Objectives and Policies part of the plan, every single mention of economic development refers to Mana Whenua.

There is no mention of broadband networks underpinning economic development or innovation.  Nothing about digital inclusion, developing a knowledge economy or innovation in the context of our broadband society.

There is much more about the Unitary Plan that gives cause for reflection on where this Council is taking our communities.

The war of words between the Deputy Mayor and the government about freeing up rural land for affordable (a.k.a. low cost) housing, serves only to hide these deeper issues.  Auckland does not need to expand housing in to its productive rural areas – it’s urban area has sufficient space to accommodate the entire 30-year population growth projections under existing planning rules.

The real issues center on whether this Blueprint for Auckland is taking us in the direction that benefits all of us equally.  But most importantly, does it ensure our capacity to handle 30 years of climate change?