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The outgoing Waikato councilor warns of Auckland’s influence on the region

Vaughan Payne, the outgoing boss of the Waikato Regional Council, said Auckland's influence on Waikato is a growing challenge for the region.

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Vaughan Payne, the outgoing boss of the Waikato Regional Council, said Auckland’s influence on Waikato is a growing challenge for the region.

An outgoing Waikato council boss says Auckland’s growing influence is one of the biggest challenges the region will face in the coming years.

Vaikan Payne, general manager of the Waikato Regional Council, will leave the council in October to take on a new role.

In the past seven years, he had seen pressure from Auckland rise to Waikato, he said Stuff.

But when it comes to development, “Auckland needs more Waikato than Waikato Auckland,” Payne said.

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“Auckland’s aggregates come from Waikato, their electronics come from Waikato, their waste comes to Waikato, there are many developments Auckland has in Waikato.

“It is a pity that Auckland has not taken the time to establish long-term relationships with Waikato.”

Payne said Auckland leaders should listen more to Waikato if they plan to use the region’s resources.

Waikato Regional Council and Auckland Council have been at odds recently as Auckland lobbied for more river water, up to 200 million liters more per day.

Referring to the recent water crisis, Payne said Auckland considered Waikato water to be “the easy option.”

“They have to look at the solutions within themselves.”

He was pleased that the recent discussions resulted in the Auckland Council’s promise to pay several million dollars to a trust for the river.

Vaughan Payne, general manager of the Waikato Regional Council, said Auckland should listen more to Waikato if it was thinking about taking its resources.

Dominico Zapata / Stuff

Vaughan Payne, general manager of the Waikato Regional Council, said Auckland should listen more to Waikato if it was thinking about taking its resources.

Waikato taxpayers and Waikato River Authority companies and taxpayers invest approximately $ 15 million [a year] to restore the river.

“Auckland is not paying at the moment and they should contribute to that restoration.”

The council’s insistence on queuing for water permits was “not very neighborly,” though Payne did not put pressure on relations between the two municipalities.

Waikato needs to be wary of Auckland’s growth across borders with “inefficient” ribbon development.

“We should look at development in the regions, if we want growth on the North Island, we need to ask what makes sense for the country, not just what makes sense for Auckland.”

Regional council supports Sleepyhead’s factory in Ohinewai, but the affordable housing should be located in Huntly, where the infrastructure is, Payne said.

There was no point in building infrastructure along the highway from Hamilton to Auckland, he said.

Payne worked for the regional council for 10 years.

He was recently offered another five-year contract there, but decided to decline and will leave on October 28.

Payne did not reveal his new role, but said it would be a change from the local government.

He will be working in Waikato for an organization that addresses social issues nationally, he said.

The new role brings ‘new challenges’.

The regional council appoints a new director at the end of August.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

The regional council appoints a new director at the end of August.

“When I think of my passion for the environment, it starts with people, and by changing their mindsets, this new role will enable me to grow people’s mindsets – not just around the environment.”

Payne said he was proud of what he accomplished during his tenure, including working with other regional partners and strengthening Waikato’s reputation in Wellington.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington praised Payne’s contribution and said many would be sorry to see him go.

The council is continuing its recruitment process and expects to appoint a new director at the end of August.