Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye is passionate about her city. And she thinks it's finally on the right track, stepping back and taking a longer-term view of issues with the Auckland Plan as a starting point.
While New Zealand's largest city still has a way to go yet, she believes people are starting to see progress and gaining confidence in their city.
As one of the younger MPs, she says she has strong feelings about the future of New Zealand.
"For too long we’ve thought in very short cycles, while other countries plan to go ahead. I think one of the good things about the last elections was even if we didn’t agree on the solutions, whether they be KiwiSaver or the electoral enrolment ... we’re starting to have longer-term conversations."
Of the city's amalgamation, she says: "I think the Auckland government's reform was pretty good, in terms of reducing the amount of regulation consent and depreciation across the different IT systems. Also we achieved the task of having a regional entity which sets out a vision for Auckland ... and also ensuring local boards have some power over their communities."
Kaye thinks we’re "90 percent there from a legislative perspective" and the focus needs to turn to council-controlled organisations and what they can achieve, particularly in developing public spaces.
"There’s massive opportunity across Auckland and we’ve seen with the waterfront expansion and the central city master plan that there are more ideas there, but that whole discussion and the public-private mix of that is something we’ll have to work very hard on in the future."
What else needs work? Kaye acknowledges there are areas of Auckland suffering major social deprivation, which needs to be addressed at governmental level, and cites key priorities as transport and housing.
"It's not just about the people living in the central city but about the hundreds of thousands living in Auckland," she says.
"We want to shift more people from their cars, but we have to do it in a way that is comprehensive across the different modes and we did see that with the RWC. You’ve got to have a balanced system with walking, cycling, buses, trains and cars."
Getting Kiwis to abandon their quarter-acre dream may be something else entirely. Kaye is a champion of greater housing intensification.
"New Zealanders like to have custom-made larger houses and I think that whole debate around the cost of building good quality, cheap housing will continue."
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