Govt to take control of waterfront during RWC

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully was so unimpressed at the management of the Auckland waterfront on Friday night that he will use powers granted under RWC legislation.

The government is going to take charge of the Auckland waterfront during the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully was so unimpressed at the management of the waterfront, outside its own Fan Zone on Queen's Wharf, on Friday night that he will use powers granted to him under RWC legislation to take over management of the rest of the waterfront being used for party central.

It had previously been under the control of the Auckland Council.

There is widespread confusion around the move with only some journalists alerted to McCully's press conference and reports that Auckland Mayor Len Brown was not briefed.

In 'comments' emailed to reporters by his press secretary, Mr McCully said:

"Following the events in downtown Auckland on Friday evening I have been giving consideration to the lessons that need to be learnt and arrangements that need to be made to ensure the success of future events on the waterfront.

It is clear that the numbers who attended vastly exceeded the expectations of the event organisers. While Queens Wharf was able to be manage well, because numbers gaining entry were restricted, there were significant challenges associated with the area around Quay Street.

While ATEED who organised the event outside Queens Wharf have advised that they have no intentions of holding other such events until later in the tournament, I am concerned that we need to make provision for the prospect that larger numbers may gather in the Quay Street area than can be admitted to Queens Wharf.

I am determined that we should make better provision for such major events from this weekend onwards.

Over the weekend I held discussions with the Queens Wharf management team, including Auckland Festival Trust and the NZ2011 Office. Yesterday, I formally instructed them to form a plan for the accommodation of the public based on the large numbers we saw last Friday, and in the expectation that even without a major event operating, numbers might flow over from Queens Wharf.

This is currently outside the zone of responsibility of these officials. I asked that they use their best professional judgement to prepare this plan and to then discuss it with ATEED and other city officials.

Because no application for any event this weekend existed for the area outside of Queens Wharf, it became clear that making decisions before the coming weekend would require the use of the special powers granted by Parliament for this purpose.

Because I am the decision-maker under the legislation, after advice from the Rugby World Cup Authority and after consultation with relevant ministers, I have not been involved in the preparation of the application. I have just been briefed on the application, which will now go through the fast-racked process, for a decision in the next day or two.

Without getting into detail, the application involves closure at various times of part of Quay St. Officials have also negotiated an agreement with the Ports of Auckland for access to some of their wharf area around Bledisloe and Captain Cook. We are grateful to the Port Company for their quick and ready cooperation.

It is not rocket science to say that alternative public transport through buses to supplement the trains that were over-stretched last Friday, will be part of any forward plan and this may be accommodated in any arrangements.

More details will be available after the proposal can be considered and determined, hopefully tomorrow.

Finally, I want to reiterate the Government’s determination to ensure that adequate arrangements are in place to ensure the success of the next five and a half weeks and reassure you that we will leave no stone unturned to achieve that goal." 

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