• Richard Hills

What a year!

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a safe New Year to you all! I can’t believe we are already at the end of 2018. 

It's been another extremely busy year at council, which included setting our $70-billion-dollar, ten-year budget. 

For generations, Auckland has delayed delivering what is needed: more public transport, less congestion, cleaner water at our beaches, a response to climate change, more funding for arts, sports, and community. This year, with our $70 billion budget in place, we have laid the foundations and begun the work to finally deliver these.

I am particularly proud of the funding we have secured for road safety projects; over $3.6m this financial year alone for our North Shore community. The road safety figures are confronting – there is at least one death or serious injury on Auckland roads each day – and we need to turn this around.

Funding for desperately needed major transport projects is now in place. I’ve been working to secure Skypath and Seapath for eight years, others longer, and these projects are now funded. Many other large-scale infrastructure projects include $47m for improvements to Lake Road (working alongside our Local Board), and over $60m to move forward on a third harbour crossing. The New North Network has added 45% capacity overnight to our bus network on the North Shore.

I was ecstatic to secure $110m funding to protect our Kauri from Kauri Dieback in July, then devastated to discover since that the disease has been found in our local native bush reserves. It is a small relief that the funding enables us to move immediately into the containment phase while protecting our other bush. 

The new $30m Fred Thomas Pump Station will make a massive difference to water quality across the North Shore, increasing overflow storage capacity from 520,000 to 3.5 million litres. This has already had an impact on reducing wastewater overflows to our harbour and waterways and there are plans for growth. 

We explored kilometres of pipes across Takapuna to track down the issues contributing to poor water quality at Takapuna Beach. Numerous issues were found and fixed; the work continues in 2019. Rain gardens and pipe upgrades in our $12m Hurstmere Road will make a large difference in filtering road run-off, heavy metals and bird droppings that presently wash onto our beach.

I have ensured the voices of the people in the North Shore have been heard: I have worked with Auckland Transport for five months to secure the upgrade to the Northcote Wharf, and I will continue to work toward an all-weather facility. The Takapuna centre upgrade has commenced, Te Onewa Pā has reopened, and looks amazing, as has the new full size court in Marlborough Park I have pushed for since 2016. Chris Darby and I secured $22m in the ten-year budget to support Kaipatiki Local Board’s Birkenhead War Memorial masterplan projects; $142,000 for Te Uruamo Maranga Ake Marae in Beach Haven; and $56,000 for Netball North Harbour. 

Yet, some of my most important moments representing the North Shore have been spent assisting our community with questions, comments, meeting at events and supporting each other after storm surges and other weather events. I am proud to be part of a supportive and caring community.

Thank you for the thousands of submissions, emails, Facebook posts, and tweets. And thank you to our volunteers and community workers who keep the Shore thriving. I look forward to working with you all in 2019. I am particularly looking forward to the Hurstmere Road upgrade; consulting on design for the 3,000m² of new public space in Anzac Street; and seeing the hard work of Shore Junction kick into action.

This year I also got married and welcomed a new nephew, Elijah. It’s going to be a hard year to top.