Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson. Video source: New Zealand Herald
Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson’s advice for Auckland? Have more partnerships with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
That was one of his comments in a Zoom speech he made from the capital to a large group of Auckland businesspeople as part of the New Zealand Herald’s Project Auckland today.
Robertson, who began his speech drily noting that of course his Auckland audience would be looking forward to a Wellingtonian telling them how to run their city.
Nevertheless, he offered some advice - including more partnerships with Auckland based iwi Ngāti Whatua Ōrākei.
Robertson said that, as he was watching the final match in the America’s Cup this week, “there was a real moment for me when the boat returned and was greeted back in by Ngati Whatua Orakei.”
He praised Team New Zealand’s partnership with the iwi. “Hats off to Grant Dalton and others for the work they did, their partnership that has been developed.”
“I think you are very blessed by the work Ngāti Whātua are doing. They are an impressive outfit when it comes to their commercial work and obviously as mana whenua they are deeply rooted in Tāmaki Makaurau. They are willing partners in a number of developments.
“I think there is an enormous opportunity in the future sustainable development of Auckland for greater partnerships with Ngāti Whātua, with other iwi who associate with the wider Auckland region as well. A nd from a central government point of view we want to support and facilitate that.”
He said there were untapped opportunities working with the iwi.
He passed on his congratulations to everyone involved in the America’s Cup including Team NZ but especially central and local government’s partnership to develop infrastructure facilities at Wynyard Quarter on the city's waterfront.
He said the event went off very well in “such trying circumstances.”
“It will be a legacy for generations to come. It will also allow us to host regattas in a way that is sustainable. I would love to see the America’s Cup defended here again and no doubt discussions will start soon about that.”
He also noted that Sir Stephen Tindall had told media the event should be able to support itself.
Robertson said central and local government had supported it in areas like infrastructure but as Tindall had said, commercial sponsors were needed.
He said Auckland was “our genuine international city” and so the government needs a partnership that includes resourcing the city.
But he said any city that required a retrofit while people were living in it would have frustrations. He noted that if former Auckland mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson’s plan for light rail in the 1960s had gone ahead, a retrofit would not be needed now.
But Robertson said the city did need to be futureproofed despite the disruption.
He also said Auckland needed to make up its mind over stadiums. that it needed to work out what international events it wanted and then approach the government with ideas.