Devonport’s Local Board AWOL In Rugby World Cup Plans

Posted by on Apr 20, 2011 | 21 Comments

Roger Brittenden appeared to rattle some cages last night, when he asked the members of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board (DTLB) what plans they had made for Devonport to take advantage of the impending World Cup. The responses were telling, and damning.

Kevin Schwass’ response was to throw the question back and ask Brittenden what his “Republic of Devonport” (ie the Devonport Borough Council) was planning for the cup. Given the organisation has barely come into existence, this seemed an odd and somewhat defensive response to a question that should be on every Devonport residents’ lips – whether they want something to happen in Devonport or not.

What became apparent is that the Takapuna Business Association is streets ahead of its counterpart in Devonport (having commissioned a RWC branding logo and adopting a team [dare I say it, the French]). This is not entirely the Devonport Business Association’s (DBA) fault, and this is where the stultifying bureaucracy of the council reared its ugly head.

In a nutshell the DTLB area has two BIDs – Business Improvement Districts as defined by council; Takapuna and Milford. BID status was used to determine which areas would benefit from RWC funding.

Thus, The Speculator is delighted to report that the powers that be have decided that the popular tourist mecca of Milford will receive RWC funding for its beautification. This will ensure the thousands of cash-laden foreigners enjoy their time among the panoramic inner vistas of Milford’s town centre, while that ugly carbuncle of modern suburbia – Devonport – is shunned.

What was of even more concern was that our Board have apparently let this happen. Chris Darby explained this whole ludicrous process without a hint of exasperation. Apparently it has been left to Eddie de Heer of the DBA to write a letter to the RWC officials, suggesting this might not be an optimal outcome. We wait with bated breath.

In the meantime, DBA members will be conducting an audit of Devonport’s environs, and reporting back to council on broken paving stones, cracked walls and wilting flowers. That should do it.

At this point I felt for Roger Brittenden. I think he was in a state of shock at the spectacularly flaccid response he was getting. So he tried getting specific. Wasn’t there going to be a big screen in Windsor Park he enquired? Nope. That’s gone to Albany.

Well what about the wharf then? Darby recoiled at this suggestion, saying that was a much bigger and more complex issue than just the World Cup. At this point I began to suspect the DTLB were being a bit naughty. Actually, they had really planned a huge party in Devonport, and just wanted give Roger a big surprise. But more impressive impotence was to follow.

Well, couldn’t we do something to spruce the wharf up a bit, Roger suggested? Chris Darby literally shifted uncomfortably in his chair, for there was no system, process or regulation in place to address this stunning piece of common sense. He blustered a little, but just in the nick of time was saved by Jo Bergin.

For such an imposing young man, the boy Bergin can be an awfully wet blanket. Perhaps sensing the Board’s credibility was crumbling in front of a large crowd of voters, he reminded Brittenden at some length that the Board was not really in control of these matters, and that it was all the CCOs’ responsibility.

What??!! Not only did we have a car crash on our hands (caused by the driver not seeing the wood for the trees), we had the cart before the horse, which was sharing a joke with the dog that was being wagged by its tail, while sharing a wet blanket with a naysayer who was out to lunch.

Perhaps the Board are actually more canny than we think. They know Devonportians will blanch at the idea of lots of drunken Poms staggering around Victoria Rd at 1am, inevitably bemoaning the early exit of their team once again. So they’re actually hoping Devonport won’t notice there is a Rugby World Cup on.

It’s the only convincing argument I can think of. The alternative is somewhat unsettling.

Devonport: Tell us what YOU think Devonport should do for the World Cup. Nothing? Something? What something?

An artist's impression of Devonport on the night of the RWC final

An artist's impression of Devonport on the night of the RWC final


  1. GB says:

    Loved your comments there Eddie!..and it was good to see you at the meeting!

  2. Gilbert says:

    I’ve found the comments in this article to be most interesting. The contribution from Jan O’Connor and George Woods are both constructive. They offer the type of thinking that’s important in a councilor. As for Joseph Bergin … your style is very confrontational. I think you’ve got a bit of growing up to do.

  3. James S says:

    Joseph – why should anybody in Takapuna have any sort of a say about Devonport? The two places are like chalk and cheese so it is madness to have them in the same board; and setting the bar so high to be able to claim independence is simply politicians ensuring that the populace has no real say.
    If 75% of Devonport withheld their rates then things would change pretty quickly!

  4. JL says:

    To young Mr Bergin. When local people fell under-represented enough to form a ratepayers group, it pays to listen, rather than just come back with a defensive rejoinder……Could it be that they have a point?

  5. Joseph Bergin says:

    Sorry tone the wet blanket again, but Roger I don’t know where those figures are from. Official Council figures indicate that on average tourists spend 1 1/2 days in Auckland corroborating the statement that Auckland at present is a gateway and not the destination it should be. As for the proportion that visit Devonport, I don’t have those facts, but one could safely argue that if you have an influx of rugby focused tourists into Auckland and with everyone bidding for their business, they aren’t likely to come to Devonport unless Devonport invites them.

    I think that Eddie’s comments are bang on, there is a lot happening and a lot to do, but it isn’t going to happen if we are already blaming others for not doing anything. An amended version of JFK’s famous quote would apply here, ‘ask not what your city can do for you, ask what you can do for your city’.

    Also at James S. If you were really dissatisfied you could petition the Electoral Commission for your own Board…but you’d need to get 75% of the total Devonport Takapuna Local Board Area to sign up and that would be a turn out greater than any local body election in the last 30 years.

  6. JL says:

    Bravo to Eddie de Heer! Great ideas for celebrating the RWC in a positive way……but isn’t it interesting that it took a sporting event is the latest issue to demonstrate that our current Community Board isn’t ‘on the ball’?
    And in response to CW- At first glance Devonport may appear to have a 4-2 majority on the board, but it hasn’t actually worked out that way.
    It’s always dangerous to assume that loyalty goes with location, especially in politics, and my observation is that the board is dominated by a particular team who ticketed-up for the elections & always stick together.
    This has left us with only one truly dedicated local, who just keeps trying to do his best on our behalf.
    As for Devonport which, in your words, continues to ‘moan and groan’ while the rest of the ward has accepted supercity changes, I disagree. Other areas simply weren’t as lucky as we’ve been in regard to past representation, so how could they miss what they never had?
    Until now, Devonport’s been used to informed, passionate involvement from the board….but now I’m really, REALLY worried.

  7. Boaddicca says:

    I would like to take amiable issue with Roger’s assertion that ‘doing nothing is not an option’. Of course it is. We don’t HAVE to be good capitalists and capitalise on the Rugby. We don’t have to worship Rugby slavishly. ‘We need to get it up’ Triggs-boy thinks that Devonport is an ‘underperforming town’ in need of ‘vision and action’ and that people should ‘get their heads out of their bottoms and support progress’. But panting after the Rugby World Cup isn’t everyone’s idea of progress. And further development, growth and more and more money isn’t everyone’s idea of progress either. If we want an independent voice for Devo, we might start by thinking more independently. Having resisted the Romans (who were equally obsessed with pointless sports and making money) I have no qualms in suggesting we should resist those now spraying testosterone around in public.
    Aontaigh Devos!

  8. James S says:

    Is there any point to the DTLB? They don’t seem able to stand up for Devonport or have any clue as to what to do about the huge differences between Devonport and Takapuna’s culture.

    Can we not just take a vote of Devonport residents and declare that we are no longer part of DTLB but will now be represented by DBC? If that doesn’t work with the super city structure then they can change their structure to suit us – after all they do work for us … not the other way around.

  9. John Davies says:

    Well I am turning my cinemas, the Vic & The Academy in the CBD into rugby free zones. I will programme them after taking an estrogen pill and see what I come up with. I did actually desire to offer 3d rugby at the Vic downstairs but I need 125,000 worth of equipment to do that! So it is at this stage going to be a refuge from all that is RWC related. The politics though, gotta say that all seems to suck. Go the Devo Borough Council. Oh, if you have a spare 125k to invest in seeing digital cinema in the Vic, feel free to drop by! great ROI and lots of free movies as a bonus lol. I guess I just broke a securities law somewhere.

  10. George Wood says:

    Devonport is lucky enough to have a Visitors’ Information Centre which comes under the control of the Auckland Council’s CCO Auckland Tourism, Event and Economic Development (ATEED). I am certain that they will be very active over the period of the Rugby World Cup 2011. I will, however, contact ATEED’s representative on the North Shore Ms Ngaio Merrick and have her specifically contract Eddie de Heer.

  11. Jan O'Connor says:

    Great idea Eddie”Why don’t we ‘paint the town black’ so to speak with All Blacks livery, ‘Go the All Blacks’ banners and silver fern flags in every shop window? We could in fact “Adopt the All Blacks”.” The main street looks perfectly alright to me as a shopper and if there are enough people on them they would look even better. However, there was a lot of support from the floor for a major clean up of the public toilets. It is amazing how women in particular often have fond memories of clean toilets- take Kawakawa for instance lovingly looked after by a former Devonport resident and I will never forget the Aspen Col. public toilet with hand towels and vases of flowers. On the whole locals haven’t the same need for the toilets as tourist. And I agree with GB regarding brightening up the Devonport wharf with a festival and I would like to see the Daldy being used for inner harbour excursions.

  12. CW says:

    Sadly Devonport isn’t the only community in the DTLB’s authority that needs attention. While Devonport continues to moan and groan about lost identity, Takapuna/Milford/Sunnynook and Forrest Hill seem to be able to come to grips with the new concept and move onwards and upwards. Chris Darby put it right when he said that we need to be forward looking to a new Auckland. A new structure will take time to sink in, and lets not forget, Devonport has a controlling influence on that board -Darby, Hale and Cohen + Darbys chair vote sees four against 3. Hardly under represented when Sunnynook has not one voice at that table.

  13. Rowan Light says:

    Let’s adopt the Irish team! set them up in the Patriot and it’ll be grand!

  14. Eddie de Heer. President - Devonport Business Association says:

    Isn’t it interesting that people can experience the same event and yet have such different opinions of the outcome.
    My take on Tuesday’s Local Board meeting is somewhat different from those expressed thus far namely:
    • Whereas Roger Brittanden had time to prepare his question, the Local Board had to answer ‘on the fly’. I actually thought Kevin Schwass’ response was an appropriate one. Although the ‘Devonport Borough Council in exile’ has only been in existence for a couple of months the Devonport – Takapuna Local Board has likewise only been in existence for five months, hardly much time to get up to speed on every issue. The point is that we all need to ask ourselves the question ‘What can I do towards preparing Devonport for the RWC?’ As a community, and indeed country, we’re in danger of always looking to others to solve our problems. “What is the [XXX] going to do about this?” [XXX] being: School, Boss, Church, Council, Government etc etc. We as a country and local community have a proud tradition of getting stuck in and making a difference, let’s not forget this.
    • Claiming that Takapuna Beach Business Association (TBBA) is streets ahead of Devonport Business Association (DBA) is missing the real point. Council decided that funding and support for the ‘Adopt a Second Team’ idea would be through BID districts and as stated in the article Devonport is not one of them. The point is if this is the way that Council wish to interact with local business communities then we’d better accept that and get on with becoming one (a BID) as soon as possible. To this end the DBA has started the process of consultation in the community with a view to applying next year. (Council has imposed a moratorium on new BID’s until July next year.)
    • The DBA is has applied for assistance from Council with the Town Centre Tidy Up campaign but there is still plenty we can do to make Devonport shine. All building and business owners can play their part in tidying up their own premises and shop fronts. We have also applied for funding towards enhancing Devonport’s appearance as well as undertaking a ‘street audit’ of maintenance works that need to be done before September. All of these activities are Council and Local Board (LB) initiatives so there is actually plenty that the LB is doing.
    • Of a total of 148 town centres within Auckland 38 have adopted a second team, all of them BID’s, with only 3 coming from the North Shore. The vast majority of local communities have not adopted a team, so we are hardly isolated in choosing not to as well. The reality is that Devonport will be host to many thousands of visitors supporting all the teams in the tournament and the experience and memories they take with them will be in direct proportion to how well we treat them as people, not whether or not we put some livery up supporting one particular team.
    • Here’s an outrageous idea! It appears that in all the haste to make the foreign teams feel welcome and at home we have forgotten, or at least overlooked, our own team, the All Blacks. Why don’t we ‘paint the town black’ so to speak with All Blacks livery, ‘Go the All Blacks’ banners and silver fern flags in every shop window? We could in fact “Adopt the All Blacks”. All other ideas are welcome.

  15. John Triggs says:

    What an apathetic bunch of plonkers the residents of Devonport are.
    There is and has been an opportunity to create for themselves and for others to enjoy a heritage village that every body could enjoy. Instead we have got a shabby under performing town where every one winges if anything changes. Roger is right we need a vision and some action. RWC is a great opportunity to clean up and involve the rest of the world. But the that would mean we are sharing, now that wouldn’t be right would it. It’s time people got their heads out of their bottoms and supported progress. The more support that is given,the greater the likelihood for action. or are you just going to leave too late, and the you will be dead.

    My Dear Mr Triggs: I normally consign any communication that starts with a rant like your opening sentence immediately to the dustbin. However, you’ve put your name on it, so I’ve relented in this instance.
    Us plonkers living in Devonport would appreciate the benefit of your wisdom in understanding how we actually motivate the people responsible for preparing Devonport to do something. To be so far from the action, to have such strong feelings on the matter and yet have no suggestions of substance suggests our impotence is matched only by yours! – Ed

  16. Roger Brittenden says:

    Dear Ed.
    Research tells us that tourists to Auckland stay for an average of 3-4 days.
    Of those, 20% visit Devonport.
    The RWC will produce 85,000, most of whom will be staying for weeks.
    We could have as many as 50,000 descend on Devonport.
    So, doing nothing is not an option. These people are going to come whether we like it or not.

  17. Boadicca says:

    Here’s an idea. Let’s declare Devo a Rugby-free zone, so that those of us who think the whole thing is a crashing bore have somewhere to retreat to. OK, I know I’ll get death threats for this. But really,folks, it is SO SO SO boring…It’s a GAME, and every single match looks EXACTLY THE SAME… I vote we do something else instead. Watch paint dry. Cut our toenails. Anything but the Rugby.
    Yrs unapologetically,

  18. SH says:

    As a Devonportian living in the UK I am mortified at the lack of preparation apparent here. The Rugby World Cup is a huge deal, the single best opportunity in my lifetime for NZ to showcase it’s assets and to prove it is worthy of hosting such an occasion. Let’s not forget we are competing in the eyes of the world with our friends across the Tasman who know how to put on a show (think Olympics and RWC in the last decade or so). Tourism is without dispute our primary industry and that applies particularly to unique and centrally located suburbs like Devonport. Come September we won’t have sunny skies and warm weather to fall back on – it will come down to ‘man-made’ resources to make Devonport live up to it’s reputation. The wharf is an abomination – the worst greeting a visitor could hope for alighting from the ferry full of anticipation. Why not a winter version of the Devonport wine and food festival with a big screen to show the games? Outdoor winter markets have huge popularity in Europe in much colder weather. Roger has hit the nail on the head here. Let’s hope it’s not too late because this opportunity won’t come around again in a hurry.

  19. GB says:

    It was interesting in what Roger had raised, but I feel the issue that needs to be raised here is when all these overseas rugby heads come to Auckland, where are they going to stay when most of the 3-5star hotels in Auckland are already booked out??..C’mon Devo people, open up your ‘oversized homes’ to some of these people and lets show these visitors real hospitality!..I hear some of you cry out, but GB we have alot of bnbs(around 15), here in Devo! Yes we do, but they will fill quickly, probably already booked out, and there’s no other type of accommodation in Devo, well, apart from that fancy expensive Esplanade hotel…and to top it off, lets make sure the Masonic stays open as a pub, so as then can have big screen games shown there as the Patriot is too small and so is Wild Bills at the bottom of our

  20. Gilbert says:

    Unbelievable. I thought I was reading a story from the comedy section. But no … you’re serious.
    Now about these BID’s (Business Improvement Districts). Can we nominate to have new BIDs added to the BID register in order to be considered for special RWC funding? I’d like to nominate Devonport, and Belmont shops, and Hauraki corner. Oh, and the lovely little shopping area on Vauxhall Road. Thanks.

  21. JL says:

    I think we’re in trouble, because if ever Devonport needed to continue our tradition of strong, democratic representation, it’s now that we’ve been ‘sucked in’ to the so-called supercity.
    However, your excellent summary of this meeting shows that, for the first time in my memory, we don’t have dynamic, pro-active leadership of our community board. Instead we appear to have inter-area sniping, and a couple of woefully uninformed individuals.
    The abominable lack of respect for Roger Brittendon, who is simply fulfilling his role on behalf of a ratepayer’s group, clearly shows that some of our representatives either don’t care, or don’t have a clue!…..It’s such a shame!

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