Forget the Super City – an alliance between seven councils in the North Island will represent 2.3 million people, or more than half of all New Zealanders.
The Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) involves Northland Regional Council, Whangarei District Council, Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Hamilton City Council and Tauranga City Council.
They have reached an agreement that will enable the councils to collaborate on a range of issues, from economic development to transport, tourism and waste management.
While UNISA has no decision-making authority, it can make recommendations to the seven constituent councils and to central government.
“The challenge for UNISA is to increase the contribution of the top half of the North Island to the nation’s economy,” said Auckland mayor Len Brown.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council chair John Cronin said there were benefits in councils cooperating, even if their respective aspirations were not always compatible.
Waikato Regional Council chair Peter Buckley said UNISA would have a focus on specific development opportunities such as fish farming in the Hauraki Gulf, access to aggregate resources for roading and building, and cross-boundary resource management issues.