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The Spinoff's War for Auckland
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Minimum target: NZ$10,000
Days left: Closed
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The Spinoff's War For Auckland
Project 2016-07-25 22:28:52 +1200
We believe the upcoming Unitary Plan and the subsequent local elections are the most important political events in Auckland in decades. At The Spinoff, we fear conventional media coverage of these pivotal moments will lead to a predictable outcome: NIMBYs hamstringing efforts to modernise our city's infrastructure, housing and public transport. Instead of that, we want to frame the election as what we believe it is: a war for the city's future. We will cover it in a dynamic, informative, impassioned style which will try and get Auckland's citizens to care about it as much as we believe they should.
Some examples of our coverage to this point:
- Hayden Donnell on a truly terrible council meeting
- Madeleine Chapman spends a week at Te Puea
- Tim Murphy goes to the Palino campaign launch
- Arthur Grimes argues we need to crash Auckland house prices 40%
We need the money because our existing budget covers only the most basic coverage. All funds raised will be devoted to paying contributors like economist Shamubeel Eaqub and Tim Murphy, along with seconding Hayden Donnell to the project until the election in October. As well as reporting, analysis and opinion writing, we want to use video and graphics to create explainers, fact checkers, myth-busters and more. We also want to build online tools to help people work out who they should be voting for in their wards, and increase our social budget to help our message cut through the online mire. We're committing to this coverage anyway – but every dollar we get will make the whole project bigger, louder and more impactful.
We're asking for $10,000 to get it going strong – but if we somehow blow past it then $25,000 would get more noise, plus Shamubeel and another reporter on it full-time from now through the election.
For more information on the project, and to see it in action, head to: thespinoff.co.nz
Vote! For the love of all that is holy, vote!
04/10/2016 at 5:11 PM
Pledgers, we’re now 10 weeks into our brutal pitched battle for Auckland’s soul. The time truly has flown by.
Speaking of which: Argh! Shit! Oh no! It’s already time to vote in the Auckland local body elections! At the time of writing, it’s Tuesday afternoon, meaning you have one more day to post your ballot. Miss that Wednesday deadline? Don’t worry, you can still vote at your local library until noon on Saturday. If you somehow screw that up, then you can still cast a special vote by climbing to the top of Mount Eden, screaming the name of Mayor Robbie until his spectral visage appears, and wrestling the undead apparition until he relinquishes your voting papers.
For more detailed instructions, click here.
Luckily we’ve come up with lots of stories and tools to help inform your choice during our blood-soaked struggle to control this city. Since we last checked in, we’ve released our War For Auckland Endorsify tool, which delivers our verdicts on the best candidates on offer in each council ward and the mayoral race. We’ve also forensically examined the most obscure and impenetrable part of your ballot - the DHB section - for quacks and wingnuts. Only the local board section remains a lottery, though we recommend Generation Zero’s election scorecards to guide your choice.
Besides obsessively endorsing people, we’ve devoted serious, reasoned analysis to the mayoral race, asking all the candidates which which Harry Potter houses they belong to, naming one “the most tragic man in New Zealand politics”, and printing another’s open letter to The Spinoff. But the largest share of our recent coverage has gone to the woman Penny Bright describes as a “wolf cub”, Chlöe Swarbrick. We hassled the Herald about not including her in its 23-page election guide, and at one stage considered renaming our campaign the War for Swar.
Despite all this, we somehow still endorsed Phil Goff for mayor.
But now the end is in sight. Our final showdown is on the horizon. If you pledged and haven’t already received your War prize, it’ll be coming in the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much for supporting this campaign.
We wouldn’t have survived it without you.
- Hayden (Toby is in Kapiti and our official advice is that Duncan is still not to be approached)
Nearly there, lots to do
02/09/2016 at 3:16 PM
It’s almost six weeks since we blew the Spinoff novelty trumpet to declare the War for Auckland. Since then, we’ve been floored by the enthusiasm for the project, not least by the number that have responded to our exuberant (and heartfelt) experiment in campaigning journalism by pledging actually money-dollars to the cause.
Today, as we wind up the PledgeMe drive, we’re a whisker away from $25,000 in contributions, or, to put it another way, about one eighth of a modest deposit for your average Auckland house. Without that war chest, we’d have managed just a fraction of the coverage so far, which has included some spectacular data visualisation, podcasts, video of an economist addressing bullshit, New Zealand’s only polling on the Auckland race and the Unitary Plan, billboard semiotic analysis, Hayden Donnell losing the will to live, beautiful photo essays and Colin Mathura-Jeffree critiquing Mike Hosking’s jackets. Forget that last one: that didn’t come out of the War for Auckland budget but from the bricks of gold that Lightbox shit into Duncan Greive’s mouth.
The Unitary Plan, to the surprise of us all, passed with a whole lot less aggressive resistance than expected, but that was always only part of the endeavour. The plan, which unifies the previous councils’ rulebooks into one volume, clears the way for the vast acceleration in house-building that is required, but no more. Central and local government, as well as the private sector, need to ensure the infrastructure and development kicks on. There are massive implications for Auckland public transport, with the final ATAP (Auckland Transport Alignment Project) due in the next few weeks. Your friendly War for Auckland army will be all over it.
Then there’s the local body elections. Even if the mayoral contest appears for now something of a snooze, we’re wedging our eyes open with matchsticks and chronicling, agitating, even holding a Goff v Crone debate. Then there’s the vital question of the composition of the council. Our friends at Generation Zero are currently punishing the shoe leather to quiz all the candidates in wards across Auckland about their priorities – based on these findings we’ll be convening the Spinoff War for Auckland Editorial Board to endorse the people best placed to make Auckland bloody good, and building an online tool to share those names with you.
For those that have pledged, thanks again, we love you: your cards will be debited next week, and we’ll be sending out rewards shortly thereafter.
- Toby (Duncan has gone bush for the weekend; official advice is he should not be approached.)
The War is over?!
15/08/2016 at 9:23 PM
A very quick one: the Unitary Plan passed today. It seemed like such a mountain, but it ended up having near unanimous support. To what extent our our work played a part in it is pure conjecture – and, in truth, it was likely small. But the fact remains we now have on the books a blueprint for the future containing 422,000 more homes. It's a stupendous win for the city, and one we're struggling to process. But our instant reaction is here. And Shamubeel Eaqub's quick reaction is linked above – or here on The Spinoff.
Of course, there's heaps to come. The elections loom, and with them threats to that other critical piece of the evolving modern city: transport infrastructure. So in the coming days we'll process the plan's win and gear up to tell the story of the election in the same style.
15/08/2016 at 10:10 AM
A quick update, as today looms as a quite unexpected one – all sources suggest that the Unitary Plan will pass today. Not only that, but pass either unanimously or something very close to it.
This is extraordinary – three weeks or so ago, when we launched this campaign, we expected the kind of vicious resistance encountered at that horrible meeting in February. Aside from a couple of nonsensical Orsman stories (he's actually been mostly fine this season), it never came. Quite why, we'll likely never know. But aside from the deeply regrettable abandonment of the mana whenua provisions – something we paid too little attention to at the time, what with the obliterating excitement of the headline housing number – we have a mostly great plan about to be passed.
Once that happens, we'll turn our attention to the local elections, to the people who'll be in charge of making the plan happen, and checking it unfolds as we all need it to. Until then, here are some highlights of the past 10 days of coverage – the stuff you've made happen through your own generosity:
- First and best: these stunning interactive maps of the coming city, by the incredible Chris McDowall
- Housing mastermind Leonie Freeman on the complexities of development, and how to overcome them.
- Hayden Donnell has been to a very weird meeting, and power ranked our Councillors
- Niko Elson from Generation Zero has explained the Unitary Plan in GIF form
- We had the redoubtable Simon Wilson of Metro and Ockham's Helen O'Sullivan up to talk War
All that, plus plenty more at our special War for Auckland section. Check back later today to see if the big lumbering thing actually does pass – we'll be there to grapple with it as soon as it does.
Thanks again for your support – we hope we're covering it right. That said, if you have any ideas for areas we should cover, or feedback more broadly, please email: [email protected]
One week into the War
03/08/2016 at 4:22 PM
I'm writing this from the front, though god knows what the censors will let through... Honestly I can't keep that up the whole way, which is probably a relief to all concerned. This week we busted right through the $10k barrier, and are rapidly approaching our $25k stretch goal – only $1500 away, which is utterly shocking and incredibly cool.
We're trying to crank up our war machine (sorry!), and have been delivering new work on the subject daily. Highlights include:
- Where would I grow up today? – an essay by Jazial Crossley on growing ip the daughter of a DPB-receiving teenage mother in the 80s, and what the housing crisis means for low income households.
- Shamubeel calls Bullshit – an ongoing series featuring economist Shamubeel Eaqub fact-checking spurious claims.
- Len's Last Stand – former Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy has been at meetings and interviewing key people out in the field, and will continue to do so.
- The War for Auckland Podcast – host Hayden Donnell is joined by Leonie Freeman, Shamubeel Eaqub and The Spinoff politics ed Toby Hayden to dissect the Plan – this will happen intermittently throughout with rotating guests.
We were also flattered and excited to be – for the first time – the platform on which a political party launched a new policy. The Greens' Julie Anne Genter – approvingly citing the War for Auckland within – talked about the party's excellent plans for housing standards and urban design. And earlier this week a pleasingly diverse group got together to launch the Campaign for More Housing, with stated goals not disimilar to our own.
For whatever reason, the opposition to the Plan has been more muted than anticipated (some mutterings suggest it's because the leader of Auckland 2040, who were so effective in February, is rumoured to be on holiday in France...).
It might also be that we have in front of us a very good plan, which many people like, or at least can live with, and those who reflexively oppose it might be somehwat chastened in their opposition by the fact that the last six months have seen many terrible things happen.
Or maybe opponents are just biding their time? Either way, we're hiring and commissioning like mad, and will continue to stay on this beat to make sure that the thing passes, and that we do what we can to elect a Council committed to implementing it, and fixing the city's problems.
Thanks again for your help – it's been truly overwhelming watching that number rise, and instructive about the frustration so many have felt living in this city. We've been touched by all who've donated, but want to draw your attention to Sayes Studio, Ika Seafood Bar and Grill and Ockham Residential – all of whom have taken sponsorship or advertising stakes in this project. That means a lot, as we have always considered that A) it's a great commercial opportunity and B) the business community should be stepping up to demand the crisis be fixed as loudly as private citizens. Because it's hamstringing our whole economy.
We'll update weekly from here on in – but if you want to reach me at any time my email is [email protected]
We did it! (Now we've gotta do it)
28/07/2016 at 6:14 AM
Because I'm a grownup with good work/life balance, I woke up at 4.30am and checked our PledgeMe balance on my phone. When I'd gone to bed we'd eked past $8k. By 3am we were funded. FUNDED!
This is magical and bizarre and incredibly exciting. A week ago this was an idea percolating amongst Hayden Donnell, Toby Manhire (who deserve much more credit for this than I, and will do far more of the work) and myself – albeit one we'd been idling on for a good while. Now we have $10,000 to wind this thing up and watch it go.
Alongside immense gratitude and a mild hangover, the most overwhelming sensation I have right now is of responsibility: those of you who donated did so because, like us, you looked out at our cool city and didn't like what it had become. It's gotten gross and a bit broken out there.
Thankfully help was already on its way even as we announced this project. Yesterday, a couple of hours after we launched, the Independent Hearings Panel on the Auckland Unitary Plan (here's Toby Manhire's brilliant explainer) came in. And it was fantastic.
It promises 422,000 more homes over three decades. That's a lot. So many, in fact, that it is intentional oversupply – which logically would bring prices down. This idea, so radical as to be unutterable in the public sphere until very recently, has now been recently uttered by an ex-governor and ex-chair of the Reserve Bank and the leader of our third-largest political party. Great!
The plan basically looks a lot like a city with enough room to accomodate its citizens, and creates huge volumes of new housing in a style they might afford. Imagine!
But as great as the recommendations are, they're going to piss off a lot of people. The eastern suburban NIMBYs, the 20%-a-year-taxfree-is-nice-thanks landlorders, some English people the Herald can't stop calling, Dick Quax etc etc. They're going to try their hardest to resist these entirely sensible and well-thought through recommendations.
And we will cover that process with a rare intensity. Because it matters. And because we can, thanks to the incredible generosity and faith shown by you all. It's deeply humbling and extremely energising.
Now I'd better go – we have some work to do...
– Duncan Greive, editor The Spinoff
The first fruits of this project, in case you missed them:
- Hayden Donnell's graph-driven and super funny analysis of why it's gonna suck for certain councillors
- Ian Shirley on Wellington's role in Auckland's problems
- Shamubeel Eaqub on what it means in two minutes of video
- Toby Manhire with an FAQ-style unpacking
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"Most readable content on the internet these days. Keep it coming because how else would I know who to vote for?!"
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"Sock it to the Man!! and the woman, Janny the family cat and Juno my fave barista "
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"Kudos for the work and the brilliant maps by Chris McDowall."
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"Dear NZ, let's clone The Spinoff, that their gleeful beams may illuminate more corners of our country. Yours in hope, Isabella "
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"Preach! Effin NIMBYs. "/"
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"You are doing this for the greater good of New Zealand "
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I want to embed this project somewhere
Minimum target: NZ$10,000
Days left: Closed