George Wood (New Zealand politician)

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Councillor
George Wood
CNZM
George head and shoulders.jpg
George Wood
4th Mayor of North Shore
In office
1998–2007
Preceded by George Gair
Succeeded by Andrew Williams
Personal details
Born 5 August 1946
Birkenhead
Nationality  New Zealand
Spouse(s) Myra Wood
Children three
Residence Forrest Hill
Website www.georgewood.co.nz

George Sydney Wood, CNZM, (born 5 August 1946 in Birkenhead, New Zealand) is a former Mayor of North Shore City, New Zealand’s fourth largest city. He was the first North Shore Mayor to be elected for a third term since the city was formed in 1989. Andrew Williams replaced him as Mayor in the 2007 New Zealand local body elections.

Wood was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to local body affairs in the New Year Honours 2008. He was elected to the new Auckland (SuperCity) council in the October 2010 election as a North Shore ward councillor.[1]

George is a member of the Citizens and Ratepayers team[2] on the Auckland Council. He has been appointed to a number of committees and is chairman of the Community Safety Forum and deputy chairman of the Accountability and Performance and Emergency Management committees.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Wood was born in Birkenhead of the North Shore, in Auckland. He was educated at Birkdale Primary, Northcote Intermediate and Northcote College.[4] Wood has been married to Myra Wood for 38 years.[5]} He has three adult children and five grandchildren. Wood lives in Forrest Hill, on the Shore, is a keen supporter of North Harbour sports teams,[6] enjoys spending time with his family and helping community groups. He is also a full-time member of the Takapuna Rotary club. In the 2009/10 Rotary year he is the club's president.[7] His father Oliver Wood operated a trucking business.[8] Wood senior was also a councillor on the Birkenhead Borough Council between 1959 and 1968, serving as the deputy mayor.[9]

Police career[edit]

Wood originally worked for the New Zealand Police, primarily as a crime investigations manager. As a Police investigator, he worked on many inquiries and served at various times in Auckland, Rotorua and Palmerston North. In his final years of service (1995–98), he was the manager of Police services within North Shore City.[10]

A graduate of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Command and Staff College[11] and the Australian Institute of Police Management Sydney[12] from where he gained a Graduate Certificate in Applied Management.

He is the recipient of a New Zealand Police long service and good conduct medal awarded in 1980.

Political career[edit]

Mayor of North Shore City[edit]

In October 1998 Wood was elected mayor of North Shore City following a fiercely contested election. Wood was able to bring together a new style of council administration with only three standing committees and all councillors members of these committees.[13]

During his term as mayor Wood was most successful in melding the council together and pushed through major reforms in relation to: Sewerage (waste water) infrastructure improvements, revamping the strategic plan and long term funding programme for North Shore City and developing and building the Northern Busway Project.[14][15]

Wood stood as an independent mayoralty candidate in the 2007 North Shore City elections but was defeated by Andrew Williams.

In the period since the October 2007 election Wood has worked behind the scenes on a number of projects mainly relating to transport. He is particularly vocal over the need to upgrade or replace the Auckland Harbour Bridge.[16] Wood has also strongly urged the improvement of public transport across the Auckland region whilst at the same time warning about the huge escalation in operational costs.[17] He has also commented widely on the matter of whether the new Auckland mayor will be able to control the proposed Auckland Transport Agency under the new proposed model.[18]

Election to 1st Auckland Council[edit]

George joined the Citizens and Ratepayers Association (C&R)[19] and was elected to the new Auckland Council to represent the North Shore ward. He topped the poll for this ward[20] election in a tight field of established candidates.[21] Since the election he has been involved in speaking out to ensure that rates for property owners are kept under control.[22] He voiced disappointment in not getting a lead position, especially in the transport area.[23]

In his inaugural speech to the Auckland Council George Wood made particular reference to the need to address the recommendations of the Royal Commission report. He made a strong plea to the new council to become actively involved in pursuing improved social conditions and try to ensure that less young people end up in prison.[24]

Controversy[edit]

In April 2007, Wood acceded to pressure from Chinese officials not to attend an international cultural show by Divine Performing Arts, which contained scenes depicting the oppression of people who practice the Falun Gong spiritual system.[25][26][27]

Wood was planning to attend the show with his wife, but after a phone call from the Chinese Consular General's office he backed out, and was quoted as saying:

I don't want to get involved in internal People's Republic of China politics but I also want to maintain a reasonable relationship with the People's Republic of China. They said that [the show] was involved in Falun Gong, they indicated Falun Gong, and I don't know what the true impact of that is, but it obviously has some concerns for them.
I had indicated that I probably would go to the show, but I'm not going to cause an international kerfuffle by going to something that I don't know anything about. I don't know anything about the Falun Gong or whatever it means. I am a mayor of a city not an international diplomat and I haven't really got the time to analyse the thing out.[citation needed]

A journalist who did attend a Falun Gong show in Auckland reported being harried and felt he was "used." He left the performance at the interval.[28]

Chairman of the Auckland Mayoral Forum[edit]

Following the 2001 local government elections Wood was elected to the position of chairman of the Auckland Mayoral Forum. In this role Wood pushed through a major joint programme between the Government and Auckland councils for transport funding.[29] This culminated in the Government passing the Local Government Auckland Amendment Act 2004 and the provision of an additional $1.6 billion of transport funding over the following ten years. This extra funding has resulted in huge improvements to the Auckland roading and public transport networks.[30]

The New Zealand Government were most desirous of achieving better governance for the Auckland region.[31]

Auckland local government reform[edit]

Auckland Council
Years Ward Affiliation
2010–2013 North Shore Citizens & Ratepayers
2013–present North Shore Fair Deal For Shore

Wood was one of four mayors who asked Prime Minister Helen Clark to reform the Auckland region's local government in September 2006. Subsequently the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was formed to enquire into the future of local government cross the Auckland region.

Wood submitted to the Commission with Wyn Hoadley.[32] Their submission was well received by the three commissioners and received a positive report in the NZ Herald.[33]

Wood and Hoadley called for one Auckland council across the region with a mayor elected at large, 13 elected and 5 appointed specialist councillors and 13 boroughs to replace the existing councils and community boards. They also recommended that an Environmental Protection Agency be appointed.[34]

The high level of debt that the seven territorial councils and the Auckland Regional Council will bring to the new council, along with the negativity by existing councils, is a major concern to Wood.[35] The figure of $3 billion debt that the new Auckland council will need to deal with has been quoted in the media.[36]

Wood is concerned as to how the report of the Royal Commissioners on Auckland Governance[37] will be implemented. He believes it should be a report delivered on a broad front and not implemented in a piecemeal manner.[citation needed]

Auckland Council[edit]

George is now the chairman of the Auckland Council's Regional Strategy and Policy committee. This is a committee of the whole of council meaning that it consists of the mayor, 20 councillors and two representative of the Independent Maori Statutory Board.Auckland council political structure 2013/2016

Elected to the Auckland Council in October 2010 George Wood has been appointed chairman of the Community Safety Forum Chairman of Community Safety Forum, Auckland Council and Deputy Chairman of the Accountability and Performance committee Deputy Chairman of the Accountability and Performance committee. along with membership of other council committees.

The preparation of the Auckland Plan, a spatial plan for the future development of the Auckland Region over the next 40 years, has been a major interest for George Wood The Auckland Plan

George Wood has been a critic of the Auckland Council's draft Unitary Plan Unitary Plan unrest on the North Shore. Locations like Milford and Browns Bay have resisted the idea of higher residential buildings than what was proposed in the plan. This is despite plaintiff pleas from Mayor Len Brown Front page North Shore Times 23 April 2013

Graffiti Plan for Auckland Council[edit]

A major revamp of the graffiti control and removal plan across the Auckland Region has been undertaken under the direction of the Community Safety Forum chaired by George Wood. The Auckland Council Graffiti Strategy document has brought a number of organisations under one umbrella.

References[edit]

  1. ^ George Wood » www.elections2010.co.nz
  2. ^ North Shore 1
  3. ^ Ward councillors
  4. ^ "Friends of Northcote College". Northcote.pastpupils.net. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  5. ^ Mt Albert Presbyterian church, 22 Jan 1972 m. Myra Grace Keucke
  6. ^ Birkenhead/Northcote Rugby Club player and supporter since 1957
  7. ^ "Rotary Club of Takapuna Inc – District 9910 Inc". rotary.org.nz. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  8. ^ Beach Haven Transport which amalgamated with G&K Mills to become Bridge Freighters Ltd (Bridge Freight)
  9. ^ Fisher, Muriel and Hilder, Wenman. (1969). Birkenhead: the kauri suburb, Birkenhead: Birkenhead Borough Counci
  10. ^ Julie Middleton (8 February 2006). "Old foes at Hughes farewell". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  11. ^ http://www.airforce.mil.nz/operations/airforce-news/101/command-staff-college.htm Archived July 20, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Australian Institute of Police Management
  13. ^ Local Governance Statement, 11 November 2008[dead link]
  14. ^ "Northern Busway". Busway.co.nz. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  15. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/249425/Auckland-busway-a-revolution
  16. ^ Wayne Thompson (12 August 2009). "Ex-mayor claims 'veil of secrecy' over effect of future harbour crossing". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "George Wood: Upgrading metro rail system incurs huge cost". The New Zealand Herald. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "City will not control key roles". The New Zealand Herald. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  19. ^ Citizens & Ratepayers
  20. ^ "Election results in your area". The New Zealand Herald. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  21. ^ Auckland Council » www.elections2010.co.nz
  22. ^ Bernard Orsman (14 December 2010). "Mayor wins fight to set rate rise at 4.9 per cent". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  23. ^ Bernard Orsman (10 November 2010). "Ex-mayor 'deflated' by minor position". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  24. ^ Bernard Orsman (4 November 2010). "Painting the big picture – in a positive way". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  25. ^ "N Shore Mayor succumbs to China Consulate pressure | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  26. ^ "Epoch Times | Chinese Consulate Interferes With Cultural Show". En.epochtimes.com. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  27. ^ Published: 6:22 pm Thursday 5 April 2007 (2007-04-05). "Wood pulls out of Chinese event | NATIONAL News". Tvnz.co.nz. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  28. ^ The gospel truth: Falun Gong | Facebook
  29. ^ "The Department of Internal Affairs: Local Government Act Review – Auckland transport investment package finalised". Dia.govt.nz. 2004-03-30. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  30. ^ North Shore Times. "Auckland busway a 'revolution'". Stuff. New Zealand. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  31. ^ Bernard Orsman (9 August 2006). "Auckland is 'five non-world-class cities', says Cullen". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Submission to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance
  33. ^ Bernard Orsman (21 May 2008). "Super ARC 'needs to take on social issues'". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  34. ^ Bernard Orsman (8 April 2008). "Councils fight for identity in face of super-city plans". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  35. ^ Edward Gay (27 March 2009). "Concerns raised over make-up of new 'Super-city' council". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  36. ^ Bernard Orsman (29 January 2009). "Super city will start $3b in the red". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  37. ^ Royal Commission – Report: Executive Summary Part 1

External links[edit]