Govt Snaps, Wharf Control Taken, What Next


It’s hard to imagine how things could get any worse for Council and RWC organisers charged with making the RWC a success.
RWC Minister Murray McCully’s impatience has obviously snapped. His decision for the Government to use special powers to take over control of the waterfront during the Cup - beyond their patch of Queens Wharf - is extraordinary and a slap in the face for Mayor Brown’s team.
Not the Government will lose any sleep over a Labour Mayor not having a good look. Wait for Steven Joyce to now seize the trains. Hang on, that might not be the best idea.
It’s worth going back a year or so to April 2010 when McCully opened Queens Wharf as Party Central.
Speaking at the opening of Queens Wharf to the public and the embryo of a Party Central being created at the waterfront location, the minister said he “wants to see this place set up for the long term enjoyment of Auckland.”

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCullysaying he wants a "great event"

At that time there were 500 days out from the RWC and he told the official gathering that there was a good deal of co-operation will be needed to make it a “Great Event.” The minister said he and the prime minister have been strong supporters of the Queens Wharf project and he praised ARC’s leadership on the issue.

Mayor Brown was not in charge and the city had just emerged from a row over whether the sheds on Queens Wharf should be demolished and whether this was the place for Party Central.

Here is a video of his speech I took at the time.

McCully’s public announcement this afternoon came an hour before the Mayor is due to receive his report from Auckland Transport on the train fail transport debacle.
Tomorrow afternoon, he will outline his response.
What next? And who should take over the trains?

Meanwhile Police have issued a statement in the wake of the incident on Friday night in which waka performaers at the Viaduct were bashed.

Police say they will be discussing with event organisers the organiser’s security responsibilities for entertainers arriving and departing at future events.

Auckland Police say they are aware of a situation on Friday afternoon at the waterfront Fanzone where some crew of Maori waka allege they were assaulted when trying to force their way out of the middle of a large crowd of people after they had performed a 600-strong haka on Quay St.

Senior Police spoke with Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples on Saturday morning and were told the crew had been directed into the crowd by security staff employed at the event. It was at this point some crew say they were harassed and assaulted.

Police spoke with members of the waka crew on the night.
But don’t expect arrests.
Police say due to the vast crowd and the nature of the event at the time, the performers were unable to give Police descriptions of those they encountered.




  1. John Dalley says:

    McCully and Joyce plus Smile and Wave trying to cover the fat arses.
    It’s war i say, it’s war.

  2. Commuter says:

    For some strange reason I bet the New Zealand Herald won’t be resurrecting its ‘DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK’ slogan (last used in its hysterical response to the last government’s electoral funding bill) although this government is attacking the rights and authority of Auckland’s democratically elected government. McCully and Joyce were a large part of the problem in the first instance. This whole fiasco is rapidly becoming a very bad joke; McCully should just go (and he can take Joyce with him too!)

  3. Cam says:

    Never miss an opportunity. This is a golden one for then they get the double whammy of making Auckland Council look soley responsible and get to look like the good guys riding in to the rescue.

    Seriously though negative press coverage of opening night is getting more silly by the minute all this hysteria here and all the overseas papers can write about is what a great atmosphere there was. Guess we just love beating up on ourselves.

  4. Roger Watts says:

    Big Deal! The compounded effects of Friday’s events are unlikely to occur again during the remainder of the RWC. What’s the bet that MM will take the credit for successfully transporting the 50,000 who will now go to the semis and final deliberately avoiding public transport?

  5. Matt L says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they then tried to find some way not to give it back and use it to further undermine the council to prevent things like waterfront development. Afterall can’t have the council boulevarding Quay St for pedestrians and shutting out cars.

  6. Wasp says:

    Auckland elected the council and mayor they wanted. The trouble was this was never in Nationals plan when creating the super city.

    The script was for the unlikable visionless John Banks to ride in on the coat tails of admiration for Key and to a lesser extent National, be a good poodle and do as he was told.

    And so they have kneecapped this council the whole way through just to show who’s boss and now the coup d’etat.

    Now National have used Friday nights events and in one ugly undemocratic swoop taken control of Auckland City assets leaving the Mayor and his council looking like fools.

    It started with Key rewriting labour laws to suit Warner Bros. He was hailed a hero but to tailor laws in a heart beat to suit billionare companies was wrong and dangerous.

    We will get screwed over by this loathsome government until either they get what they want or they are voted out because we didnt elect the council they wanted.

    And the biggest irony is calling the last government Nanny State. Even the Soviets would be proud of this one big brother.

    Time for National to go!

  7. Chris R says:

    Agreed - this might help with Nationals demise!

  8. Zenx, Auckland says:

    A friend has suggested to me that we should have let Wellington City Council organize everything, oh, the shame of it…..

  9. Rene says:

    Well it seems all 8 of Labour’s voters have commented on this post.

    I just about wet myself when I read this.

  10. Andu says:

    Wow, McCully is calling in his RWC ‘special powers’ to take over Aucklands waterfront……..
    This does seem politically motivated in the extreme.

    One minute he doesn’t want anything to do with the mess, and now he is the only one who can fix it?
    Will Aucklander’s really be happy with this? we vote in a particular Mayor and council and now a Government minister is ‘taking over’. Central Government in general has way too much influence of local authorities.
    Very undemocratic. Very disappointing.
    I hope there is ultimately a backlash against this decision in Auckland and other parties can seize on it. Disgraceful.

  11. Feijoa says:

    I thought all the hype was storm in a tea cup stuff, but this is a mess the way McCully has handled it.

  12. Alphatron says:

    So if there is further overcrowding on Party Central leading to injuries , will the Labour Department prosecute the government for OSH breaches??

  13. Andu says:

    I remember hearing the criticism ‘Nanny State’ many times on TV and Radio when Labour were on the way out.
    Who’s the Nanny State now? This angers me more than any other issue raised previously. And McCully just pulled the rug out from under the Mayor and the council. He didn’t talk to the Mayor until after he’d told the media.
    The rhetoric from Government earlier of ‘I’m not interested in pointing fingers, we need to work together’ on the one hand, and then ‘but its not our fault, its all Aucklands fault’ on the other. What a load of BS coming out of their mouths.
    This IS a storm in a tea cup! It doesn’t warrant a government take over, massively politicising the issue.

  14. Auckland Freedom says:

    National, what joke.

  15. Mark says:

    McCully is just going to make this worse.

    The real issue here is that council has been captured by event staff, who want to build bigger and bigger budgets with no cost benefit or accountability.

    I deploy the modern trend to try and jump to the end game - ie lets spend a fortune on major events, and we’ll become a great city….. It’s stupid and wasteful, and part of the modern “get everything now approach” (boy I’m sounding old!)

    Policticans - Banks and Brown have gone along with this - they put the $100m budget in place, they didn’t control the process/risks etc.

    The govt - both Clarke and Key see the RWC as an election winner. the bigger the party the more votes. They’ve lost sight that it’s about some good games of rugby, and good infratsructure.

    You can’t jump to 200,000 people on the waterfront, and trying to get high rail patronage, without first doing the hard yards. If Quay street had been pedestrianised 3years ago, with proper infrastrure, it would have gradually built up into a successful public space. It would have developed over time - lessons would have been learnt.

    Some people think Wynyard is for the RWC - but that’s a 20-30yr plan, with a general direction agreed and worked towards for 10 years. Shared space has been worked on for 3-4 years.

    That is what the Council should do - provide/grow and develop the infrastructure. the events can grow later - and they will no doubt work well.

    The lesson here is you can’t try and jump to some “end game”. Once you accept that, then you limit your plans to match your infrastructure. You don’t call it the best ever fireworks display, you don’t publicise it too much. You make the controlled opening ceremony at Eden Park the main event. No risk…

    They shoudl be saying - “It was good to get 17,000 on trains to the Bledisloe, but sorry Aucklanders but for the RWC later stages, we’re going to need that capacity for tourists. How about you guys bus or car pool - we’ve got lots of park and ride areas, and shuttle buses - and eh we all know 40,000 can park around Eden Park - so lets give our visitors a good train connection - we won’t push it to the limit, and Aucklanders can come back to the trains for the Super 15 and tests next year - and boy wait until it’s electrified, and got a loop.”

    oops - better stop the rave:)

  16. tbird says:

    Agree with Andu with this being a storm in a teacup.

    Seriously, it didn’t go that badly. Everyone makes mistakes. I really hate our negative media sometimes. They’re like annoying girlfriends who just look for something to complain about! :-D

    (I think the Pike River mine thing is similar. Rather than letting families grieve, the media bleats on looking to find out every single mistake made. I hope the families realise that this won’t help.)

    The government should not be doing taking over. I voted for Len Brown:
    1. because John Banks is a complete politician.
    2. because I didn’t like central government trying to influence what happens in our cities (thanks ACT).
    3. because I really have an irrational dislike of John Banks

    (ACT apparently used to stand for minimal government, so why the hell it thought it could play around with a merge of Auckland councils is beyond me. Fortunately the party is dead and gone. Hopefully Epsom voters tick party-National and David Parker (Labour) for their electorate member)

    Government shouldn’t be micromanaging things. It’s an added chef to a broth which had a few concerns, but is okay at the moment. Stick to governing the country. Let the councils govern their cities.

  17. Geoff Houtman says:

    Rene, where are the comments? Can”t find any, or a way of commenting on the page…

    A general RWC question- the cruise ships that were to be parked at the wharf as floating hotels, where are they all? I took the ferry to Devonport last night and don’t remember seeing them…

  18. Rene says:


    “Auckland’s ratepayers will be holding the new mayor and council to account for the commitments which will be made around transport. If the mayor and council are going to make good on the commitments they make, they will need direct oversight.”

  19. Timothy says:

    These theatrics are designed to cement John Banks in as Epsom MP.
    The government created the Super City but got in their wrong Mayor.
    Not only do they want Banks back in the fold as Minister for Local Government as Hide’s heir apparent, they want to destroy Len Brown who was rating too well and too liked and looked as if he was doing great things.
    This will also torpedo Brown’s obsession about rail which is also too popular with the peasants and must be starting to piss off certain Ministers.

  20. Andu says:

    Good to see John Campbell hammering away at McCully. McCully looked very shaky and nervous with his answers.
    Len Brown looked disappointed but quite gracious in that he didn’t just fire straight back at McCully.
    I’m so angry at the Government for playing such dirty politics right now when people should be trying to enjoy the damn tournament.

  21. Roger Watts says:

    How accurate is the 200,000 figure likely to be?

  22. Ingolfson says:

    In some ways, really unsurprising. This is the government that removed a whole layer of regional government in Canterbury over disagreements on water rights, replacing it with unelected commissioners. And then granted itself dictatorial powers over Christchurch after 200 people died (admittedly with the collusion of pretty much all the sheep in Parliament – what a disgrace). I don’t know what happens if we ever have a disaster or terror incident like the Twin Towers. Will John Key get declared prime minister for life? For our safety & right to party, of course?

  23. sooty says:

    Mcgillycuddy shoudn’t count his chickens to quickly, there are a few influential users of the Auckland Port who have told them to pull their heads in,as the Auckland Port is needed for far bigger fish then the RWC.

  24. James says:

    Well if their is a reason not to vote for National this is it!
    Next thing you know we need special passports to enter McCullyland!

  25. Malcolm says:

    Not surprising to me to be honest. It seems to be what this government does. They just take things over when things arent going the way they want.

    Watch out Len.

  26. CommiNats says:

    Lenin would be proud of National taking away Auckland from Aucklanders.


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