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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland Council’s six demographic advisory panels have outlined to the Mayor and Councillors what they think needs to be done in the next three years to support their communities in our region.

Sixty-three people make up the council’s strategic advisory panels, with each person chosen for their insight into what it’s like to be young, senior, Pasifika, ethnic, of rainbow identity or disabled in Auckland.

The panels offer strategic advice through the lens of their lived experience to the council’s Mayor, Governing Body and the wider council whanau on how to make the city more inclusive.

Recently elected co-chairs explained their panel’s priorities to the council’s Planning, Environment and Parks Committee last week, and many gave compelling reasons why they are important.

“We want to work on what makes Auckland a place that young people want to be,” says Youth Advisory Panel co-chair Vira Paky. “When young people feel connected and a sense of belonging, they’ll be invested in contributing and staying in this city for a long time.”

Several panels have identified housing, wellbeing, climate change and participation as areas to focus on for additional improvement. Other common themes are engagement, transport, and safety.

Edwina Pio, ONZM and co-chair of the Seniors Advisory Panel, said 12 per cent of Auckland’s population is over 65-years-old and few issues are more universal than ageing.

“On top of that, 35 per cent of New Zealanders over 65 years have a disability. We’d like to see universal design principals brought on board to ensure people can age comfortably and continue to enjoy living,” says Professor Pio. “Housing is crucial to safety and wellbeing for so many older people, especially to those in the rental market.”

Co-chairs of the Disability Advisory Panel, Martine Abel Williamson and Barry de Geest, agreed that universal design and disability thinking are important to embed into council decisions and planning – “so nobody gets left behind”.

“These things should not happen to accommodate disabled people but because it’s the right thing to do. We’d like to see disability viewed as a great example of inclusion being extended to everyone,” says Mr de Geest.”

Belonging and inclusion is one of the five important priorities for the Ethnic Communities Panel. Co-chairs Krish Naidu and Ireen Rahiman-Manuel say Auckland can grow to become more inclusive for migrant communities. 

“Bullying is often an ethnic issue and we’d like to see a future where our kids are not affected by this. Racism, crime and ethnic migrant worker abuse are some of the concerns for our community and we are keen to work with the council on ways we can improve.”

Co-chair of the Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel, Seumanu Simon Matāfai, wants to see Tāmaki Makaurau care for its Pacific people in the same way an older sibling provides kaitiaki and leadership.

Despite living in the “largest Pacific centre of the world”, Mr Matāfai says many younger Pacific people need more support to thrive.

“Money won’t fix it all. We need true and authentic partnerships between community and the council. It takes a village to reach the tower,” Mr Matāfai says. “Let’s make Tāmaki Makaurau the greatest Pacific centre in the world.”

Josh Martin, of the Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel, says his panel are keen to bring forward voices from their community that often don’t get heard.

“Make people feel valuable. I think it is less about what the council is doing but what are you doing? That’s going to have a definite impact,” Mr Martin says.  

Chief Liaison Councillor for the Advisory Panels Julie Fairey thanks each panel member for the humility and grace they have shown in sharing their wisdom and expertise with the council.

“We’re very lucky to have such a diverse bunch of people bringing an incredible depth of skill, knowledge and mana in their advice to Council this term. I’m really proud to support these panels as they make sure we have input from a wide range of Aucklanders for our decisions,” Cr Fairey says.

Each panel has identified several strategic topics to progress while appointed:

  • Disability Advisory Panel:
    • Climate and extreme weather resilience and preparedness, response and recovery
    • Accessible and inclusive recruitment
    • Monitoring Council’s Disability Operational Action Plan
    • Housing accessibility and affordability for disabled people
  • Ethnic Communities Advisory Panel:
  • Belonging and Inclusion
  • Wellbeing and Safety
  • Economic Growth and Development
  • Transport
  • Climate Action and Sustainability
  • Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel:
    • Climate justice: adaptation and community resilience
    • Civic engagement, participation and democracy
    • Mental health and wellbeing 
  • Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel:
  • Council kaimahi awareness and service provision
  • Community engagement
  • Cost of living
  • Seniors Advisory Panel:
  • Working to implement Age-friendly Auckland plan
  • Housing
  • Safety
  • Access to services
  • Transport
  • Youth Advisory Panel:
  • Connection and belonging
  • A resilient Auckland
  • Thriving Young People

Co-chairs elected for each panel are: 

  • Disability Advisory Panel: Martine Abel Williamson, QSM and Barry de Geest
  • Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel: Teresa Platt and Josh Martin
  • Youth Advisory Panel: Vira Paky and Sanat Singh
  • Seniors Advisory Panel: Claire Dale and Edwina Pio, ONZM
  • Ethnic Communities Advisory Panel: Ireen Rahiman-Manuel and Krish Naidu
  • Pacific People’s Advisory Panel: Litiana Karika and Seumanu Simon Matāfai