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Leisure and culture to merge in Auckland’s new ‘super city’

Leisure and culture to merge in Auckland’s new ‘super city’
March 17, 2010

Dozens of senior staff who run Auckland's cultural and leisure facilities look set to be dumped by the New Zealand Government for a handful of directors who will control everything from ballet in the Aotea Centre to rugby fixtures at North Harbour Stadium.

The Auckland Transition Authority (ATA) is working on winding up 16 major arts and other regional facilities to create a single major regional facilities council-controlled organisation (CCO) for the new Auckland 'super city'.

The new CCO, with a board of about eight directors, will be responsible for most of Auckland's principal facilities, such as Auckland Museum, Auckland Zoo and Motat, cultural facilities like The Edge and Bruce Mason Centre, and major stadiums, including Mount Smart and North Harbour.

Prime Minister John Key and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide have been scathing of the number and duplication of the existing council-controlled organisations in Auckland.

Instructions have gone out to the ATA to trim the existing 34 CCOs spread over the existing eight councils in Auckland. The Government has legislated for three CCOs - for water, transport and waterfront development. The ATA has recommended four more, including a CCO for major regional facilities.

In a discussion paper, the ATA said this CCO would focus on making better use of Auckland's major venues and attractions and have a single clear purpose to achieve a high level of co-ordination.

The ATA looked at separate CCOs for cultural and venue facilities, but rejected this because they competed against one another for events, such as conferences, concerts and celebrations.

Whether the new council retains a commitment to managing two major outdoor sports stadiums is also in doubt, with reports that Mt Smart Stadium may be sold to raise funds to cover Eden Park's development shortfall. This has led to a war of words between those responsible for North Shore City Council's North Harbour Stadium (pictured below) and the Auckland Regional Council's Mt Smart Stadium.

North Shore City Mayor Andrew Williams recently suggested Auckland's stadia should be rationalised to fund Eden Parkâs $40 million shortfall and pointed to Mt Smart Stadium as an example for mothballing.

However, Councillor Michael Barnett, Chair of the Auckland Regional Councilâs Mt Smart Special Committee, has highlighted the recent poor performance of North Harbour Stadium stating "the stadium is not equipped to cope and is obviously inexperienced in managing sell out crowds of 23,000.

"North Harbour Stadium has a lot to learn before the Rugby World Cup next year. They should be treating every event as a rehearsal to be sure they are well prepared for the crowds of fans coming to see the game.

"Mt Smart is accustomed to managing crowds of more than 30,000, and does so regularly for both sporting and entertainment events. It has overcome some challenges and learnt from past mistakes."

16th February 2010 - MT SMART STADIUM 'NOT FOR SALE'

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