Devonport Finds Its Voice

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 | 6 Comments

Roger Brittenden’s one man mission to galvanise the community of Devonport into political action was launched last night, when around 120 local residents packed out the Cricket Club to show their support. Also in attendance were councillors Chris Darby, Mike Cohen and Jan O’Connor.

Facilitated by the nimble diplomatic skills of David Slack, the audience was first addressed by Devonport notable Richard Tong, who stated it was “unbelievable how neutered the local level had become” under the new council structure.

Tong was followed by Brittenden, who wondered how Devonport could possibly not be worse off when it had moved from having six councillors representing 19,000 people to three representing 60,000. He was “overwhelmed” by the level of support.

Chris Darby was up next and did a good job of presenting both a positive and realistic view of progress under the new structure. “It ain’t plain sailing” was how he summed it up, likening the upheaval to “a marriage of Fonterra and Telecom which neither party wanted, while all the kids are farmed out to the CCOs.”

However, he was seeing progress as the new systems bedded in and was starting to develop communication channels with the council and CCOs.

The two key objectives he saw were a) to finalise a community engagement plan and b) for the residents of Devonport to participate in the upcoming review of the Auckland Spatial Plan which will outline Auckland’s direction for the next 30 years. Both objectives provide an excellent opportunity for the Devonport community to group together to provide a united voice.

While there was disquiet among some of the attendees around the corporate-speak of “spatial plans” and “engagement plans” Darby insisted these should be seen as an opportunity to ensure the interests of the Devonport community were protected.

The meeting was temporarily interrupted by one of Devonport’s older and perhaps more eccentric residents, who insisted on regaling the throng with stories of his time working for the council as a plumber. Mistaking the clapping at the end of the third, fourth and fifth anecdotes for encouragement, he became increasingly excited by the apparently delirious response to his tales of council incompetence. He eventually had to be “helped” back into his seat by the gentle but firm hands of Depot veteran Lynn Lawton where he was finally subdued with a couple of hastily delivered shots of absinthe.*

The meeting closed with unanimous agreement to continue the tradition, with the meeting time likely to be the first or second Monday of every month. It was generally agreed that the format should remain as informal as possible, although there may have to be a standing quota on plumbing-related parables.

The Speculator will keep you up to date.

* The absinthe part of this pointless vignette is pure speculation, and the reporter has been disciplined – Ed.


  1. GB says:

    Wha bout the RSA hall?? huge in there..we have had past pre-super city meetings and other in the rsa hall over the years..I should be at the next meeting, as there’s a few things am itching about. 🙂

  2. robert says:

    Dear Speccy,
    How about an indepth investigation into the seawall at stanley bay.If one thing sticks out as a symbol of the failure of government is the impotence of the powers to fix this well over a year old maintenance issue. What a joke for one of the largest cities in New Zealand and one of the best in the world.

  3. JP says:

    When will the next meeting be?

    Good question JP. This from the minutes; “Call for a show of hands to support a regular monthly meeting, 2nd Monday of each month at the cricket club rooms when available.” The show of hands was unanimous.

    Personally, I thought the cricket club rooms too small to cater for the meeting; hopefully the old council chambers can be secured. – Ed

  4. Joe Bergin says:

    Hey hey hey…I was there too Mr. Speculator, I just decided to listen to the concerns everyone was raising rather than raise my own.

    What a shocking oversight on my part Mr Bergin, I apologise. You continue to re-define the accepted parameters of political behaviour. – Ed

  5. JL says:

    As one who attended the meeting, I do wish Mr Darby hadn’t been so indulged. He went on & on, and I am so tired of the passionless ‘corporate speak’ he uses to excuse the fact that our board has become so remote from the community. As for his ‘engagement plans’…..oh for goodness sake, get real, it’s called TALKING TO PEOPLE, something previous board chairs never had a problem with. Why try to re-invent the wheel, when Devonport used to ‘engage’ without having to dress it up with jargon & excuses.
    I hope the new group will work because we’re losing something important here, and without a very strong push, we won’t get results.

  6. Chris Werry says:

    Why wasn’t the bar open?

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