- The merger of local authorities allows the regional council functions to be merged, similar to the couple of unitary authorities we have now. The split of functions doesn't really make sense, complicates the governance questions and leads to intra-local authority in-fighting.
- Few local authorities, defined more around contemporary communities of interest. Eg, Greater Wellington, Taranaki, etc. Someone once suggested to me the present DHB boundaries would make some sense.
- Bigger local authorities. This would allow the administration to harmonise and consolidate their work. No need to re-invent the wheel on the regulation of prostitution across the Auckland region. Or for different frameworks for regulation of the RMA.
- But bigger local authorities need smaller access points for public participation. Community boards are presently optional but I think any move to merge local authorities requires compulsory and universal community boards. That is, each local authority district must have community boards covering the entire district. Here, we can insist on smaller communities of interest. Eg, in a Greater Auckland model (say) Papakura District would be represented by the Papakura Community Boards. The former Wellington City within Greater Wellington might be split into two or three, ie Southern, Central, and Northern Wellington.
And most significantly, these Boards would need to have automatic responsibilities (presently their role depends on the authority and funding given to them by their parent local authority). I suggest they have standing delegations to hear "local" resource consents and a budget for "local" projects; other matters would continue to be dealt with at the local authority level. This allows the local community to make decisions about local matters such as town centre development, local parks, local developments, but ensures that matters with broader implications or needing greater strategic expertise (regional planning or infrastructure) is done at a higher level.
Now none of this is specific to Auckland - but it might be that the examination of these issues in Auckland could trigger some reflection on these issues across the country.