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Your Local Voice - Aug 2019

I can't believe we are already over half-way through this year. August is upon us and hopefully so is warmer weather. I've had a busy few months since my last newsletter - working on projects such as the appalling state of parking at Albany Park & Ride, the desperate need for a new school in Albany, and taking part in plastic-free July. Have a read below...


Albany Urgently Needs a New School

We are fortunate in the East Coast Bays to have exceptionally good local schools led by dedicated Principals and hard-working Boards of Trustees.    The ongoing and extremely frustrating problem for most of our schools is the lack of effective planning by the Ministry of Education to ensure that we have enough quality classrooms to cater for the population growth that we have experienced on the Shore. Those schools that have received new classrooms and new blocks built have often had to endure a long and difficult process to secure the infrastructure they require, often after years of lobbying the Ministry of Education. I have written countless letters and lobbied the Minister and the Ministry for additional classrooms on behalf of a number of schools with some good success stories. However, there are many schools still juggling classes around in libraries and staffrooms to make ends meet.   Recently Albany Primary School has been in the media as a fantastic school that has experienced extremely high roll growth. The Principal and Board Chair have lobbied the Ministry of Education for years for new blocks of classrooms to account for the high growth within their zone. For years their cries fell on deaf ears and now by 2021, Albany School will hit over 1000 students with Oteha Valley School not far behind.   The Ministry of Education is now in a scramble to sort out the problem in Albany that they were warned about. One of the Ministry’s answers is a plan to exclude certain suburbs from the school zone - effectively shifting the deck chairs around to try to ease pressure in the short term. For the Unsworth Heights community, who are facing a potential exclusion from the Albany School zone, this is heartbreaking news.  I have written to the Minister to urgently request he supply Albany Primary with three relocatable classrooms in order to delay any re-zoning decisions by 12 months. This would give the Ministry of Education time to finalise their plans for a new multi-classroom block at Albany Primary School and to commit to a new school in the Albany area. The simple fact of the matter is that we desperately need a new school in the Albany area. In the last month, the Minister of Education announced 61 new schools across New Zealand, many in Auckland. On that list was a school in Albany North. That’s good news on the surface but my concern is that only one of the 61 schools is funded and guaranteed. The rest - who knows. And given that all schools in the East Coast Bays recently missed out on having their school donations paid by the Government (an election promise) I am sceptical of any new promises, especially ones that come with no guarantees. I am putting pressure on the Education Minister to commit to building a school in Albany, to guarantee the funding, and to give our community an assurance that the school will be built within the next five years. We cannot afford to be ignored any longer. 

Please take two minutes to sign my petition to help me put pressure on the Minister to commit to a new school in Albany.


PLASTIC-FREE JULY Solving our waste problem

The recent breach of the legacy Fox Landfill in South Westland has sent thousands of tonnes of rubbish down the Fox River through a pristine National Park. This is the biggest environmental disaster since the Rena and is likely to be an ongoing problem as spring rains wash away more of the river bank. This is a massive wake-up call for New Zealand. When we throw things away - there is no ‘away’ and the 40 years’ worth of bread bags, toothbrushes and other plastic waste now in the Fox River is proof of that. Despite our clean green image, when it comes to waste we have a lot of work to do. New Zealand produces 3.68kg of waste per capita per day - the worst in the developed world.  Kiwis are massive consumers of plastic but we recycle very little of it ourselves. With overseas markets closing their doors to plastic waste our high rate of consumption and inability to deal with our own waste onshore has become a big problem.  I recently participated in Plastic Free July which is a worldwide movement to raise awareness about the amount of plastic we consume. For 31 days I tried plastic-free alternatives with varying degrees of success - you can follow my journey on Facebook and Instagram. The exercise was an eye-opener at just how much plastic I consume, how much of it is avoidable and how much isn’t.  One thing that Plastic-Free July highlighted is that there are thousands of Kiwis out there who want to make sustainable choices but they are frustrated about the lack of information available, the lack of non-plastic alternatives at convenient locations like supermarkets, and the cost of doing the right thing. But one thing is sure: Kiwis want change.  As Associate Spokesperson for the Environment, I am working with the National Party Environment team, developing policy that encourages and incentivises behaviour-change when it comes to plastic. We are also looking at policies that will see more of our waste recycled on-shore. We are working closely with NGOs and industry to understand the scale of the problem and the solutions that can solve what has become New Zealand’s dirty little secret. 

CLICK to view my Plastic-Free July videos


Is Auckland Council working for you?

What can central government do to make day-to-day interactions with Auckland Council easier? Please take 5 minutes to go online and tell me your stories. What works? What doesn't? This survey is conducted in collaboration with Denise Lee, MP for Maungakiekie.


Some Interesting Facts...



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