Alf Filipaina is proud of everything Auckland Council has delivered with its 10-year Budget, but nothing brings him greater personal satisfaction than the work done to strengthen the wellbeing of Tāmaki Makaurau’s communities.
“This is a community-oriented budget,” says the Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee and councillor for the Manukau ward, who has spent his career in community-facing roles with the Police and now the council.
Despite the economic impact of COVID-19 in the past 18 months, Auckland Council has been able to maintain its support for valuable community facilities and services, including its much-loved regional parks, sports grounds, and arts venues.
“It's just so important for all of us to have green spaces to walk and play in with the family, and to be able to enjoy cultural events in our communities,” says Cr Filipaina.
Through the Recovery Budget, the council has committed an extra $900 million to its community facilities and parks over the next decade. There is also a continuation of $150 million funding to support Māori outcomes over the next 10 years.
"Over the next three years, $65 million of additional funding will go towards addressing the highest priorities for our communities services and facilities, including providing a level of renewals to safeguard our facilities from asset failure," says Filipaina.
Auckland Council owns a large network of community facilities, some of which are ageing and in need of refurbishment.
“We need to do seismic strengthening in some of our community facilities for health and safety. We will be taking a look at all of our facilities and asking what would be required to bring them up to standard, or if they’re still serving the needs of our communities in the way the once did,” says Cr Filipaina.
As the population diversifies and grows, Filipaina says it’s important to make sure facilities meet the needs of people living in Auckland now, and into the future. For that reason, there is a move to deliver services in different ways, including through multi-use facilities such as Te Manawa in West Auckland, serving the communities of Westgate, Massey, West Harbour and Hobsonville.
Te Manawa is the city’s first fully integrated community hub. Open seven days a week, it features a library, a customer service centre, rooms for hire, a commercial kitchen, various creative spaces, work and study areas, and a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Like all of the council’s 55 libraries, the library at Te Manawa will scrap library fines from 1 September 2021, a change Cr Filipaina is delighted to be a part of.
“There have been 35,000 people who have stopped going to the libraries because of the whakamā or shame of owing money on overdue books, and as a result their children don't go to the libraries,” he says.
Now people can return books to the library without any penalty, no matter how long they have had them. And if they have lost the books, that’s okay too. It’s more important that everyone in Tāmaki Makaurau be able to access library services.
“From our perspective, we don’t want to stop people from going to the libraries because of the fact that there is a fine you know you will have to pay when you get there,” says Cr Filipaina.