Wayne Brown is the mayor of Auckland. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Wayne Brown is the mayor of Auckland. (Image: Tina Tiller)

PoliticsMarch 23, 2023

You’ll never guess which groups are over-represented in Auckland budget feedback

Wayne Brown is the mayor of Auckland. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Wayne Brown is the mayor of Auckland. (Image: Tina Tiller)

As the deadline approaches for submissions on sweeping cuts proposed across Auckland Council budgets, more than four in five are European, and most over the age of 45.

Just a few days out from Tuesday’s deadline, more than 10,000 submissions have been received in response to the Auckland Council budget for 2023-2024, but younger people and ethnic minorities are underrepresented among those who have so far provided feedback.

The overall number is tracking to be higher than last year’s total of around 11,500 responses, but below the count for the 2020-2021 emergency budget, when almost 22,000 submissions were returned. The proposed cuts stretch to most services Auckland Council provides and funds across Tāmaki Makaurau — with buses, parks, libraries, recreational facilities, clubs, events, and more in the firing line.

The budget process, which one councillor called “the most important this city has faced since 2010”, proposes swingeing cuts across council and local board services, spanning public transport, culture, sport, events, parks, libraries, recreation facilities and more in the cause of addressing a budget gap of $295 million. Other measures put forward by Mayor Wayne Brown include asset sales and a rates rise below inflation.

Auckland Council

Brown has colourfully urged Aucklanders to make submissions, as has Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who has called the the proposed cuts “mindblowing” and “anti-science and anti-people’s-wellbeing”.

According to data provided to The Spinoff, 82% percent of those who had submitted by the start of this week identified as ethnically European, despite making up 53.5% of the Auckland population, according to 2018 census data. Māori accounted for 7% of responses (11.5%, says the census), Pasifika 6% (15.5%) and Asian 14% (28%).

Submissions as of end March 19, compared with census. Chart: Auckland Council

While less than 35% of the population across the Supercity region are, according to census data, aged 45 or over, those in that category had made 51% of submissions by the end of Sunday. Almost three-quarters of submissions (73%) are from people aged 35 or over. Submission numbers tended to be higher in wealthier local board areas.

“A lot of the feedback received so far is from New Zealand Europeans, especially those 40 years and older, with Pasifika, Asian and Māori communities currently under-represented,” said the council’s chief financial officer, Peter Gudsell, in a statement. “We’ve been out and about and online at Have Your Say events, and our teams on the ground at Pasifika, Polyfest and Te Matatini say these communities are interested and engaged, but we want to see this go one step further into actual submissions.”

He said: “The online questionnaire is in an easy to answer multi-choice format, and you don’t have to answer all questions if there’s only one area you want to give your feedback on. We have translated information and feedback forms available for those who may not be confident in English, so don’t let a language barrier stop you. We would also like to see our youth and elderly audiences providing further feedback, especially those aged under 25 or over 75.”

A council spokesperson said some engagement activity seeking to reach communities that were typically under-represented was continuing.

Submissions can be made here until Tuesday March 28 at 11pm.

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