1 Nov 2010

Dawn ceremony for Auckland Council

4:28 pm on 1 November 2010

Auckland Council officially came into being in a dawn ceremony on Monday.

Twenty-three Maori tribal groups gathered in Aotea Square to bless the council, whose elected members will be sworn in on Monday night at the Town Hall.

Mayor Len Brown will be the first political leader in 160 years to cover all of Auckland.

The Auckland Transition Agency, which oversaw a merger of eight councils to form the new council, says $37 million will be saved this year after the cost of the amalgamation.

Further savings of between $175 million and $195 million are foreseen within six years.

The new council has more than 8000 employees - 1200 fewer than previously employed by the eight councils. As many as 1000 staff are to be relocated by Christmas.

It is the biggest merger in local government in New Zealand and the council's new identity is splashed in radio advertising and across the back of buses.

Chief executive Doug McKay says one of the more obvious immediate changes is lower fees for many services, such as permits and consents.

First budget

Mayor Len Brown told Morning Report that a lot of work will be done over the next few weeks and months as the council works on the first budget.

He said that while there are bound to be savings, the major task is to address transport issues and get rapid rail up and running.