Because Waiheke has this strange relationship with Auckland it seems to me that a lot of the questions are about that and whether the Local Board will have power to do anything. Be it to take proactive steps or to defend against that vague ‘stuff we don’t like’.
However I feel this misses the point rather. All communities develop structures of governance. Throughout history where groups of people are living together they have modes and means to express what might be called their civic society, that collection of mores and opinions about how things should be arranged, how people work and live together, how they protect and develop their living space and environment. This is true whether the community is a gold rush town with a sheriff, a German university town with a mayor and aldermen, or a commune with a council of elders.
Modern society with all its structures and institutions – contract law, resource management acts, plans, police forces, utility companies, real estate agents might give the impression that this lowest level of civic society is no longer required – that all the human interactions are taken care of. That is the implication by a structure like the new Auckland City having one representative for 80,000 people.
My belief however is that Civic society is just as important as it ever was, We still need representatives close enough to home to know the people, to know the ground and who can listen, emote and collate views. Who can give leadership, agree, disagree, consolidate, arbitrate, and guide. Who can take on ceremonial functions, who can act as highly connected nodes in complex networks of relationships.
I believe that if Waiheke had not been ‘given’ a local board. Then the island would have invented one anyway – called a representative forum or a civic network or some other thing – but fulfilling the same function.
So while it will be great if the new Local Board are able to take on more powers, spend more money, and play a role in representing Waiheke to the rest of the City. Their every day activities will be the same old, small decisions that reflect the character of the island, talking and listening being a hub.
I believe that all the candidates are standing because in some way they understand this whether expressed clearly or not. They have a love for this place where we live. Whether I might agree with their viewpoint or not those elected with have my respect and support. They will lose it only by acting in ways that are either self serving, or allow the interests of the few take precedence over the interests of the many.