Mangawhai Ratepayers Association winds up after 52 years
Posted at 12:44pm Monday 14 Sep, 2020
A new residents' association has formed to keep an eye on the development of Mangawhai Central.
The executive committee of the Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association (MRRA) has voted to shut the society down after 52 years.
Previously, the association put out an urgent call for volunteers to replace the retiring executive committee but got no response.
Member Alan Preston, who was among the minority who voted to retain the association, said there was a feeling that the Supreme Court's decision against chair Bruce Rogan in February signalled the end for the association.
The court ruled against Mr Rogan and his wife, Heather, in connection with a long-running dispute over rate payments, stemming from a rates strike in 2012.
Another reason for the shutdown was the formation of a new residents' group, Mangawhai Matters.
More than 50 people attended Mangawhai Matters first meeting and the group now has more than 100 members.
There was a suggestion that the Mangawhai Matters' executive committee could take over the MRRA, but it was ultimately agreed a fresh start was needed.
Matters spokesperson Doug Lloyd says the new association wants to be proactive in its engagement with the Kaipara District Council.
“One of the primary reasons the Mangawhai Matters association has been formed is to keep an eye on the development of Mangawhai Central,” he says.
“We are not opposed to Central, and we know progress has to happen, but we just don't want a Millwater-type settlement in Mangawhai.”
Mr Lloyd said the community was surprised by a private plan change, which would dramatically increase the number of new homes the developer would be allowed to build.
“There hasn't been consultation on that,” he said.
Mr Lloyd said another purpose of the association was to provide a body that Council could easily communicate with.
“The community can get fiery when it doesn't understand an issue. We just want to communicate with people.”
Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith is supportive of the formation of the group.
“It's common for Kaipara community groups to reorganise themselves and refocus priorities,” he says.
“I welcome this refreshment and future engagement.”
Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Ward Councillor Jonathan Larsen says he is also looking forward to working with Mangawhai Matters.
“I believe that Council should be run for the benefit of the ratepayers and residents – our ‘shareholders,'” he says.
But Mr Preston is warning the new association not to get too close to the Council.
“They need to be able to stomach the idea of taking the Council to task about use of ratepayer money,” he says.
He says participation in local democracy is more important than ever as the corporate sector becomes more effective at extracting public money.
Mr Preston is the secretary and a founding member of the Federation of Ratepayer Associations of NZ. One of his goals is to get a bill in Parliament requiring councils to engage with ratepayers' associations.
Mangawhai Matters to officially launch next month
The Mangawhai Matters residents' group will be officially launched at the Mangawhai Domain Hall on Saturday, October 3 at 4pm.
The meeting will include a briefing on the 60-page Council submission put together by the Mangawhai Matters executive committee on the impact of Mangawhai Central on the town's character.
The society will be calling expert evidence at the upcoming commissioner's hearing in November and is seeking donations to cover the costs of the experts.
Executive committee member Carol Lloyd says Mangawhai Matters is also investigating the Council rating system.
“It has resulted in Mangawhai ratepayers facing an average 5.5 per cent rate increase in 2020/21 while other areas, such as Dargaville, had a reduction in rates,” she says.
“Mangawhai Matters wants the current rating model changed, and its resultant burden on the Mangawhai Community.”