Just Send The Money

Jun 30, 2023 by Keith Mexsom

The light rail for Auckland debate continues with the Government suggesting it should take over the urban development role along the proposed light rail route from the city to the airport whenever that route is finally decided. This suggestion elicited an angry response from Auckland’s Mayor, Wayne Brown, who reportedly told the Government “...to butt out of Auckland and just send the money for the city to do its own thing.” [Bernard Orsman The New Zealand Herald 29 June 2023]

Some 160 years ago, a similar difference of opinion between the Government and the citizens of Auckland occurred and which resulted in some serious debate about separation –– as reported by the Colonist on 30 December 1864: “An Association termed the Northern Association has been formed in Auckland. The object of the association is ‘to take steps to secure the separation of the Province of Auckland from the Southern portion of the Colony of New Zealand.’ The Queen is to be petitioned to grant such separation...”

Although a reversal of fortunes eventually calmed the North’s desire for separation, the South’s resentment of the 1880s remained, and would be demonstrated for decades, particularly when any great national expense was required for infrastructure at Auckland — such as that reported by The New Zealand Herald on 6 February 1924:
“Auckland Railway Station — It is not a question of Auckland’s wishes, or of the desire for a station more in keeping with the size and deserts of the city. It is entirely a case of providing for the working railways facilities to handle the traffic offering at the most populous and most rapidly expanding centre to which trains are run...When the decision to begin it is made public, the Minister should not be left to answer the inevitable objectors single-handed. No work can be commenced in the Auckland district without the old cry of all favours going North being heard. The mere fact that this is in no sense a favour, but a work of paramount necessity, will not still the cry.”

The Auckland Star of 3 October 1924 expressed a similar view to that of Wayne Brown:
“People in the South...are not likely to be satisfied...we shall probably hear a good deal of clamour about the rights of the South and the greed of the North. The case for the North, however, is unanswerable. It has the population and the traffic. It is carrying the finance of most of the South Island systems on its back.”
Perhaps it is time for the descendants of the Northern Association to arrange a few 1864-styled Town Hall meetings to convince the Government “...to butt out of Auckland and just send the money for the city to do its own thing.”