Len Brown: “the city needs more investment”

BY ANUJA NADKARNI

23/03/15

Mayor Len Brown is promising more cycle lanes, rail links and busses to accommodate Auckland’s growing population.

Auckland’s population is growing by “1.5 to 2 per cent a year,” says Mr Brown.

Mr Brown says the government has not invested enough money into transport for the super city.

“We’ve always under invested in Auckland… and I’m saying now is the time to actually stop this nonsense.

“The more we invest, the more people get on it.”

To accommodate the growing city, the mayor says the council is looking to support the $30 million investment by the Government to reach 1000 cycle lanes within the city.

Mr Brown says the only way to create greater investment is through road tax or regional petrol tax.

60 per cent of Aucklanders are willing to pay the $2 motorway toll in light of better transport for the super city so far.

Having the motorway toll will not only raise money but also force people to consider other options of transport, Mr Brown says.

“Whether they decide to go on the motorway or whether they get off, get on a bike or walk, or get on public transport. It helps de-congest.

The mayor says the investments have lead to a million extra city rail trips a year for 80 per cent of the city’s rail networks.

Mr Brown promises that once the city’s rail link finishes, which he hopes is within four years, there will be up to 35 million trips per year.

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Friendly attempt to lower crime rate

BY ANUJA NADKARNI

15/03/15

Police in Mt Roskill are encouraging residents to get to know each other in a bid to bring down the suburb’s crime rate.

‘Know Your Neighbour’ is an initiative to get residents on a database to prevent serial thefts and burglaries.

As part of the project, active community member Taki Tuhaka is using the app Neighbourly to invite neighbours to become part of the conversation.

“We’re trying to get neighbours to help make their community safer by getting them to know each other and look after each other.”

Constable Owen Carl says Mt Roskill and Mt Albert are taking part in the initiative because police have identified higher volumes of easily preventable burglaries in these areas.

“The old days of people coming out and speaking to their neighbours are gone – we just want people to come out, look around, tell us and also tell your neighbour what’s going on,” says Mr Carl.

During the introductory event on March 13, police and neighbourhood patrollers walked door-to-door and handed out information leaflets with complimentary tea bags, says Mr Carl.

“It’s got all the emergency numbers on it. Great to have in your house – put it on your fridge. And if you do feel like bringing your neighbour in, there’s a tea bag too.”

Mr Tuhaka says the more people are familiar with each other, the more they will protect one another.

Some 207 cases of unlawful entry with intent of burglary were recorded in residential parts of central Auckland from last October to December, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Mr Tuhaka and Constable Carl hope to meet with community members regularly.

Nation’s fashion capital to get makeover.

By Anuja Nadkarni

10/03/15

Auckland University’s new campus on Khyber Pass Rd will bring a fresh focus on hospitality services to Newmarket, adding to its fashion image.

Following the completion of parts of the campus late last year, the Newmarket Business Association is looking at rebranding the industrial and commercial hub.

The suburb is looking to add hospitality and restaurant culture to its “glamorous” fashion image, says Margaret Mateo, marketing and events coordinator for the association.

“We don’t want to be known just as the fashion capital,” she says.

The association dubbed Newmarket the nation’s “fashion capital” in 2005, when its growing number of retail store members decided the suburb needed to be seen as more than just a convenient traffic junction.

The mix between the Westfield Mall and little boutique stores provides “the best of both worlds” for any shopping enthusiast, says Alina Tahoe, Recycle Boutique sales assistant.

Ms Tahoe says the increased traffic as a result of the new campus will help drive forward the image the suburb wants to create.

“The whole idea is that you can work here, shop here, play here and now study here.”

The campus, which is located at the former Lion Breweries site on Khyber Pass Road, is part of the university’s long-term development plan.

The university’s website says 200 staff and students moved to the new facility last October and more people from the engineering and science faculties are due to relocate in the year.

Get your vote on!

A country that played a pivotal role in equal rights of voting, unfortunately has thousands of its youth who simply could not care less!

Votes by Kiwi youth have been dwindling each year by four per cent, and at this rate of decline, we’re looking at less than 10 per cent of youth voting within the next three elections. Your vote is your voice and in the previous election, a whopping, 60 per cent of young people chose to be silent.

Fortunately, initiatives supported by the Virgin Voter Collective are shining a ray of hope on these dreary statistics.

Virgin Voter Collective is a campaign that branches over several independent initiatives all with the same goal, which is to get youngsters to vote in the upcoming elections. Basically they are a one-stop shop for young voters! 

Some of the initiatives that are part of campaign include On the Fence, Ask Away and Candidate. All three use a youth focused approach to attract first-time voters.

On the Fence is a fun app which gives users an idea of the political policies held by different parties.

Similarly, Candidate delivers the policies to voters who do not want to or do not know how to search the different political promises by the various parties. Candidate uses a simple Tinder-like approach where the user can swipe to the right or left depending on whether or not they agree to a policy, before the app calculates an appropriate political ‘date’ for the user to vote for.

Ask Away is slightly different, as it is a platform, which gives people the confidence to fire off questions to politicians about policies and promises. Ask Away has been quite popular, with several politicians frequently answering questions posted by young voters.

Hannah Duder is the campaign manager for Virgin Voter Collective as well as the creator of the Candidate app. She said the campaign is basically finding new ways to appeal to the youth.

“We don’t think each individual initiative will solve the problem by itself, which is why we’ve created the Collective…Each one offers something different to spark an interest.” 

Ms Duder said political apathy amongst youth is partly due to politicians not using the right approach in their communication with young Kiwis. She said most of the language used is jargon-filled and youngsters find it boring because they simply cannot relate.

Hence through the several initiatives represented by the Virgin Voter Collective, the campaign aims to give youth a taste of politics and help them take an interest in it.

“Hopefully when they vote, the youth feel slightly more educated and like they’re making a vote that is not just based on how cool a political party’s name is or something!” Ms Duder said.

Already the campaign as well as its individual initiatives, has received thousands of positive responses from young people who have pledged to vote in the upcoming elections.

If you are a first-time voter and want to make the serious world of politics fun, get involved by checking out http://www.virginvotercollective.co.nz

The website will provide you with more details on the apps and initiatives that you can use to help you take your first step into politics.

 

 

By Anuja Nadkarni

The man behind the ‘Humans of Queen Street’

An interview with Mike Wheelton

By Anuja Nadkarni

Mike Wheelton

What inspired you to start your website, did the Humans of New York play a part? 

I started my website before I knew about it (Humans of New York)…I got a new camera, and couldn’t work for some personal reasons, so I started taking photographs and then I realized with the more photographs I took, the ones that I liked were of the street people and people around Auckland. I found I got enough photos, if I kept my eyes open and my criteria was to find interesting people.
Continue reading

Being a Kiwi-Indian

Here’s a short piece I wrote for Indian Weekender in May 2013

To me being a Kiwi-Indian is a privilege as I can associate myself to two different cultures. I feel like I have two homes in the world, the country I was born in and the country I have grown up in. Both countries are worlds apart, and I think that is what makes it such a privilege as  I personally have learnt so much from both cultures. The deep cultural, rich traditional and family values from India, as well as the carefree, live-life-to-the-fullest attitude from New Zealand. I love that I will always have two beautiful countries I can always call home, a privilege not granted to many.

Final News Story – Totara Avenue

Ethnic flavours spice up street’s transformation

Totara Avenue in New Lynn, which once served as a path to brick kiln workers in the early days of Auckland and then a thoroughfare for traffic going to the city’s west, is now being transformed into a hub of multicultural activity.

The street has witnessed major developments over the past decades, including the country’s first modern shopping centre, Lynn Mall in the 1960s, to the recently developed multimodal transport station.

New Lynn is culturally diverse and celebrating this is the night market, one of the many initiatives, supported by the Auckland City Council and Whau Local Board.

This free-entry event has 25 hand picked food stalls and takes place on Thursday evenings from 5.30pm to 9pm outside the New Lynn Community Centre on 45, Totara Avenue.

The New Lynn night market is currently a six-month trial feature due to run from June 20 till December 19.

Bevan Chuang, the night market’s coordinator says the aim behind the event is “to revitalise the place.”

New Lynn is currently on the cusp of further growth and the changes around Totara Avenue mark the beginning of the future improvements for the area, Ms Chuang said.

Inspired by the local night markets in Asia, the Council emphasise on the essence of the event being community based rather than aiming for commercial success.

One of the community development aims of the night market is to showcase local businesses to allow them to gain recognition and confidence, while also bringing additional income.
“Store holders will tell you [they] make more money in one night [referring to the night market] than [at their] shop…over three days” the Ms Chuang said.

Ms Chuang also spoke of the social development aspects of the night market. The Wise Women program from the Auckland Regional Migrant Services is the example she used. The members are given a platform to make money, gain confidence and independence to eventually start up their own businesses and provide for their families without relying on social welfare.

A tea stall owner, Lee David, mentioned that night market, has made the community safer. While, another stall owner, Bhavna Deshpande, and a customer, James, believe the event brings the community together, serving as a place for people to learn about the many ethnicities in Auckland.

New Lynn’s infrastructural developments such as the addition of the shared space street, has increased pedestrian activity allowing events like the night market to become popular places to visit.

Permanency of the event is dependent solely on the results of the trial, Ms Chuang said.

However, other Auckland suburbs have begun showing interest, with Orakei being one.

Customers and vendors are also keen for the market to expand and grow. The council seems to be receiving more positive feedback than criticism, said Ms Chuang.

It certainly has gained popularity, having sold 530 plates of food in its 14th week.

Though the Auckland Council’s trial project runs only in New Lynn, there are similar markets around Auckland that are run by private companies in the parking lots of shopping malls.

New Lynn, however, provides an array of events throughout the year alongside the night market such as The Legends of the Moon, which featured for the second time this year due to popularity. Also the Tea and Toast event that told the story of New Lynn with the suburb’s icons imprinted on slices of toast, which visitors enjoyed with a cup of tea.

The next time you pass the suburb, budget a little extra time to visit Totara Avenue; it not only hosts many events but also houses sculptures and monuments that celebrate the suburb’s remarkable history.

What are your thoughts on the events and overall developments in New Lynn? Click HERE for the full interview with, Bevan Chuang. Please share any comments below or email newlynnbid@gmail.com for any queries.