Talking with Sarah Trotman, ONZM, C&R Member

This month, we asked C&R Elected Member on the Waitemata Local Board, Sarah Trotman, ONZM, to share two key thoughts on the issue of accessibility to those who are elected to represent us.

Have you felt invited to have your say? Have you felt heard by the Board?

Consultation on Auckland Council’s Long-term Plan 2024 – 2034 closes shortly. This consultation is important. However, based on the few residents who attended the Waitemata Local Board #HaveyourSay hearing, residents appear not to have confidence in Auckland Council’s consultation process.

Nor do they seem to be confident that their views will be authentically heard, even if they take the time to present their views. This is disappointing and needs to be addressed.

One resident recently commented, “if the regulars, who attend, your Local Board meetings are repeatedly ignored by the Chair, who with City Vision members hold a majority, why would I waste my time coming before you? You don’t even offer me a cup of tea, let alone make it easy to get into the orange coned city.”

It is most certainly time for the entire Board to reflect on how we engage in a more constructive way with our community.

During the Long Term Plan consultation we focus on:

· The overall direction of the Long Term Plan
· The transport plan
· Major investments
· North Harbour Stadium
· Local Board priorities
· Port land and
· ‘Changes’ to rates, fees and other charges (‘changes’ should have read ‘increases’).

These are complex long-term issues. Busy, or less informed, residents need an environment where they can comfortably share their views and be supported through the process of providing quality feedback on matters that impact their day to day, and the future state of Auckland.

I have heard concerns from within the community, that the process of coming infront of the Board is at times intimidating and that the boardroom is too uninviting.

Community are also concerned that speaking before the Board is limited to only five to 10 minutes. Further, that there is no conversation allowed, the Board members are simply able to ask ‘questions of clarification’. These questions are often cut short if they do not suit the political agenda of the Chair.

One Local Board Business Meeting per month is open, weekly Workshops are not.

On Tuesday 19 March, the Local Board held its monthly Business Meeting. As always, agenda items have already been briefed, and then discussed by the Board at Workshops. These Workshops are held behind closed doors, the public cannot attend Workshops. All briefing papers are marked confidential, so not to be shared outside of the Workshop. It is my opinion that all information should be freely available to our constituents, except when there is a legal, or regulatory, reason for it to be withheld.

It is noted too that the chat function is disabled during the monthly Business Meeting. Therefore, communities and residents who are online cannot share thoughts on matters before us. Enabling the chat function would provide us with a wider variety of views, particularly ones from those not willing to wait for hours on end to have their five to 10 minute window of opportunity.

There is a lot of hard work to do to rebuild trust and confidence in the Waitemata Local Board. That trust and confidence seems to have significantly diminished since the start of the term when Genevieve Sage ‘crossed the floor’ to secure herself the position of Chair of the Board.

It is evident, from the Letters to the Editor of the last issue of Ponsonby News, that there is still deep upset in the community as a result of Sage continuing to vote with the minority City Vision team.

The place to start building back trust and confidence of our community is Chair Sage having a better understanding of the role of the Chair. Also understanding a key aspect of chairing the meeting is ensuring the will of the meeting flows, rather than the will of the City Vision team who are just one part of the make-up to the Board. (SARAH TROTMAN)

Sarah Trotman can be contacted at, or on T: 021 487 583. If writing to her in her capacity as a Local Board Member at

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Published: March 2024