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Councils sign collaborative agreement

Friday, 7 October 2011 8:00 a.m.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Tauranga City Council are signing an agreement this weekend with councils in the upper North Island to work more closely together on a range of inter-regional issues.

The Regional Council, Northland and Waikato Regional Councils, the Auckland super city Council, Hamilton City, Tauranga City and Whangarei District Councils are signing the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) agreement at a ceremony in Auckland.

The alliance is designed to help the councils work together on such issues as economic development linkages, transport including rail, roads and freight, ports, waste, water, population and liveability, commercial and industrial land development, international connectivity and climate change.

The newly formed group will also work on integrated management of the Hauraki Gulf, Firth of Thames and Kaipara Harbour, and look at aquaculture management, navigational safety bylaw alignment, geospatial data management and improving liveability factors in the four regions.

This includes access to aggregate resources, collaboration on biodiversity and biosecurity issues including marine biosecurity, cross-boundary resource management issues, cross-boundary servicing opportunities and efficiencies and any other strategic issues.

Regional Council Chairman John Cronin said the councils have agreed that there are benefits for all of them co-operating on a range of issues, even if their respective aspirations are not always compatible.

"An interregional agreement to promote collaborative thinking and initiatives is seen as a useful tool for assisting with the challenges and opportunities that will arise as Auckland and the three regions pursue growth, development and economic agendas," Mr Cronin said.

"The alliance has been prompted by the creation of the Auckland Council and reflects the growing dominance of the 'golden quadrangle' of the Auckland, Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

"The Agreement has the potential for our regions to align themselves so we can promote our individual strengths and identities without competing amongst ourselves. There is much to be gained for each region individually, and for New Zealand as a whole, if we work collaboratively to maximise the collective economic power of the Upper North Island."

He said the move was driven by the country's increasing reliance on economic activity in the upper North Island, cities and businesses being more globally competitive and increasing responsibilities handed down by Central Government to Local Government with a growing need to find cost effective ways to manage these.

The purpose of the agreement is to maximise sustainable development opportunities for all of the upper North Island. The councils intend to identify strategic opportunities and collaborate on joint initiatives which will support social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing across the four regions.

They also intend to work together to avoid cross-boundary effects of each area's activities, share information, expertise, databases and research and keep each other informed of matters of mutual interest.

The agreement is also intended to encourage integration and consistency of planning across the upper North Island, develop agreements on national issues and investigate opportunities for cost efficiencies by sharing responsibilities and services.

 For further media information please contact: Linda Thompson, Senior Communications Advisor, on direct dial 0800 884 881 ext 8149.