Ratepayer AGM attracts full house

Howick historian Alan La Roche, HRRA Chair Gayleen Mackereth, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore and Vice Chair HRRA Andries Popping.

The Fencible Hall was filled to capacity on Saturday for the Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association’s (HRRA) public meeting and AGM.

Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore, speaking on finance and opportunities, produced a range of graphs showing expenditure by Auckland Council and indicating the priority of transport and present planning, and assuring concerned residents that Auckland Council was within its budgetary restraints.

Asked what proportion of the graphs were administrative costs, the answer was approximately 40 per cent of budget, and he emphasised the importance of strategic planning, but shrugged off questions such as overspending on such things as a mirror and Vulcan Lane, with the answer that it was within the arts budget and it had cost more to erect than expected.

Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore addressed a full house.

A number of comments were made on the difficulties of dealing with council employees and the massive problems caused by runoff, flooding and slippage, due to the infill housing in the Cockle Bay former Heritage Zone below Stockade Hill. Councillor Sharon Stewart spoke of a meeting she is calling on August 16 on the flooding with representatives of various problem catchments.

Chairperson Gayleen Mackereth, in her annual report, told of the wide range of issues HRRA had submitted on this year on behalf of Howick people.

She spoke of the importance of the ongoing Stockade Hill views battle and vowed to fight to the end if the final judgment (soon to be announced by the Commissioners) goes against us.

She thanked the Defencibles group for their work adding to support for the HRRA fight and urged other younger people to join Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association to have their views heard. She also begged for someone to fulfill the role of secretary due to the retirement of the existing secretary. The position remains open (contact howickrra@gmail.com) if you can help.

Local historian Alan La Roche gave a fascinating insight into the reasons for the erection of the Stockade on Stockade Hill, its construction, including quarter inch corrugated iron which could repel even cannon fire, and into the number of people housed at the stockade at the height of fear of the Maori invasion.

He also told the little known story of the origin the Stockade Hill Christmas tree, planted by Czechoslovakians who were in the Militia who wanted to celebrate Christmas as in their homeland and gave out presents to all the children, a gesture which must have cheered so many after the scarlet fever epidemic here when almost 100 children had died; and the scare of the Waikato wars.

“It was great so see local MP Simeon Brown, and Councillor Sharon Stewart amongst the audience,” Mrs Mackereth said.