Conversations with Andrew King, Mayor of Hamilton.
In episode #2, Willi meets with Andrew King, Mayor of Hamilton. Why Andrew ran for mayor, Peacocke Hamilton development, Hamilton-Auckland train, forgiveness and success.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:45] How is it to be Mayor of Hamilton?
[01:30] Right amount of Rates
[02:43] What prompted Andrew King to run for mayor?
[04:16] Peacocke development
[02:43] What prompted Andrew King to run for mayor?
[06:25] Interest-free loan from Central Government
[09:43] Auckland – Hamilton train service opening 2019?
[12:12] What does the council do about homelessness?
[14:18] What is success to you. What does that mean?
[16:35] Don’t ever burn the bridges
[17:59] Private question: how to overcome obstacles..is that too private?
[19:08] What did you do over the Christmas holidays
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Andrew King Mayor Hamilton
Willi: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Financial Insights Podcast Episode number two. I am your host, and my name is Willi Olsen. Today I am at the Hamilton City Council’s building on floor number nine. And this is where the mayor’s office is. This is a nice office, nice furniture not luxurious I must say. But with an incredible view of the city and the Waikato is fertile land. I am here to meet with the mayor of Hamilton Mr Andrew King.
Willi: [00:00:30] Mr Mayor thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to meet with me here today.
Andrew King: [00:00:38] Yeah, good afternoon listeners
Willi: [00:00:40] Thank you. Good to be here. How is it to be the mayor of Hamilton
Andrew King: [00:00:45] Yes very busy. There a lot on. My day normally starts day starts normally at seven o’clock in the morning finishing anytime between six and eight at night. It’s leadership, setting the direction for the city and bring my elected members with me so that we can get the majority votes that we need to bring in new ideas and things for improving the quality of life in Hamilton. Making it a better place to live and of course is the other side of the job of kissing babies and cutting ribbons.
Willi: [00:01:15] And you have a history in business and knowing more about you I see that you have been in business for many many years and now you’re the mayor. So what, what do you think contribute to you now having the chair as mayor
Andrew King: [00:01:30] Look I believe that Hamilton firstly needs to collect the right amount of rates to get the right amount of income so they can run the city properly. At the moment we’re racing at five hundred dollars less than some of our neighbours, less than Tauranga, thousand dollars less in Auckland. It’s very difficult to run a city when you haven’t got enough money in the coffers and you can’t be a mayor who sit there while most of the problems probably being that most of the mayors sitting there and try to hold back the rates increases but it’s got to a point where we are the lowest rating growth Council in New Zealand and that makes it very difficult and we’ve got pipes that are filled to capacity that need upgrading. We’ve got infrastructure that’s breaking down that we haven’t got the money to fix and we also have got amenities that we need for a city of our size that we haven’t got as well as that we need growth. We need sections and subdivisions to be opened up to control the price of housing control the price of sections by having more demand and supply moments and we need to turn that around and that helps control prices.
Willi: [00:02:43] It is a big task to run the city and you’ve got the confidence of the voters to do so. You won the election but who’s Andrew King and what prompted you to run for mayor
Andrew King: [00:02:55] Look I left school and I knew that I wanted it for myself but of course you’ve got to go out in my case I went out and got a trade. Learned the trade. When I finished learning the trade, I then started my own business. From my own business I obviously start to generate wealth start to generate assets and property and from there I also had staff so I learned how to handle people from that position. I felt frustrations and what I saw about how the city was being run. So I stepped up as a counsellor. Once I became a counsellor. I Then was frustrated with senior leadership team so I stood as mayor. It was a bit of a miracle really. We won by six votes which is the closest mayoral outcome in the history of New Zealand that anyone is aware of for a mayoral race, so it is very exciting but we’re here and I stood on a platform of less red tape growth.
Andrew King: [00:03:54] We just need more sanctions and more jobs in this city. And also I wanted to run the city in a way where it was, I will call it truth, but it was and I’m doing that by having all meetings in public with all councillors involved with the media there. So there ‘s nothing happening behind closed doors no secrets. I
Willi: [00:04:16] I know that one of the things that is happening in Hamilton is the Peacocke development. Can you elaborate a little bit about what that is and what it means for us living here in Hamilton?
Andrew King: [00:04:29] Yeah. So we’ve got a growth cell at the moment it’s Rototuna which is pretty well full, pretty well finished. So we need a new growth cell to move on to. Peacocke has been talked about in the city for 30 years. Previous mayors and councils they’ve made and inferred that it’s going to happen and it’s been in a way promises made that it’s going to happen then at the last moment people have shied away because it’s very expensive area to open up and they’ve ended up opening other areas. Because of the scale, once you get it open it multiplies. The costs aren’t as high as they would be per head of section per section because the multiplication effect of the huge scale that’s out there there’s 8000 sections out there and could be up to 20000 sections in that area. So by us getting it open and spending money in the first place then it actually becomes very affordable. So we ‘ve got to put a bridge across. We’ve got to get the sewage out and that’s what makes it very expensive. But in Hamilton to open a growth cell in any area we’re going to need a new bridge and we’ve also got the issues with infrastructure and sewage and water. So we’ve worked really closely with central government on this, and central governments have made. At the end of the day, we ended up with about an eighty thousand dollar advantage and central government subsidies to get this area open. So we’re very pleased with ourselves.
Andrew King: [00:05:52] We’re not across the final line yet but by June July this year we should have it locked down but it is looking very good. The central government money is certainly locked down. They’ve signed it off. It’s really now a matter of council choosing to go ahead with it which I believe they will.
Willi: [00:06:06] The central government?
Andrew King: [00:06:08] No central government signed off their bit. Now it is a matter of local government of our Council to sign it off. In our ten year which is at the moment is out for public consultation and comment and final sign off happens in June.
Willi: [00:06:22] So the government is involved with financing?
Andrew King: [00:06:25] The government has put up a 272 million dollar interest-free loan for ten years for us to open up the growth cell. Which we’re very pleased about. This has never happened in the history of New Zealand that we’re aware of. It’s something that we recommend a central government do, and they do and so we’re very pleased.
Willi: [00:06:40] And when do you expect that the development will be open?
Andrew King: [00:06:46] It will be five years before we get the first sections away in Peacocke. So in the meantime, we desperately need other sections so we’ve got what we’ve signed with central government an agreement which is of called special housing areas. Where we can rezone very quickly with the agreement of the people who own the land. Land that’s owned commercial or zoned industrial into housing or areas they design for housing we can rezone into high-density housing. So this is not only a process that will take about five years. We can do this within a few months. This will bring sections onto the market in Hamilton between one and five years and that will hold the fort for us until we get Peacocke open which will be about five years.
Willi: [00:07:28] So from one year from now on we will see extra sections opening up or developments
Andrew King: [00:07:33] Yes well developments and meanwhile we’ve got the normal run of the bubble sections that are coming out all times as well.
Willi: [00:07:38] Okay. And these sections that will open up in a year’s time. Are these also… what’s the word economic friendly sections?
Andrew King: [00:07:44] Well we’ve agreed with the new Labour government that 40 percent of all the sections in the special housing areas will qualify for kiwibuild which means that there are only government peeks affordable housing should be. So we’re going to work very closely to ensure that central government gets what they want out of this as well. We believe that. I believe that we need to work very closely with central government central government if we make them look good will help us and make us look good. And central government too often local governments central government is the enemy and they shouldn’t be the enemy. Central government are only there to help us and we need to work alongside shoulder to shoulder with them so that we both achieved together.
Willi: [00:08:25] So in the next year we’ll see other areas opening up here in Hamilton and in five years Peacocke will open.
Andrew King: [00:08:32] Yes.
Willi: [00:08:33] What are we going to see if schools out, like another Rototuna?
Andrew King: [00:08:38] Well the beauty is there is Melville Highschool, that’s only half full or has got huge capacity. The bridge will take people back into Hillcrest area as well. So one side going to Melville the other side will take Hillcrest and as a lot of very good schools in that area as well. So as up to the central government when they see the populations getting into a position where they need to school out there or more schools out there, and I imagine that will happen with time.
Willi: [00:09:05] Right. Yeah. Okay. Very interesting. The other thing I’ve heard since I moved here to Hamilton is there have been talks for years I believe maybe 30 years as well about opening up a train or track for trains coming from Auckland to Hamilton. Are there any developments in that area.
Andrew King: [00:09:29] Yes OK right now we’re working very closely with central government on this. The new Labour government has said that they want trains running. Trains are a priority for them, and a train between Hamilton and Auckland is probably one of their highest priority passenger lines. So we’re working closely with central government to get a train going between Hamilton and South Auckland. Once you go into South Auckland, you get on the electrified service and get into Auckland. So we put in together ideas and agreements right now so that we can hopefully help the Labor governments deliver on their promise of transferring within and being before they’ve been in government for 18 months. So we’ve got another year or so to deliver this in partnership with central government and we intend to do everything we can as Hamilton City Council to.. Or as mayor of Hamilton to ensure that this can happen and will happen. It’s not going to be a bullet train it’s not going to be a fast train it’s going to be a diesel train but we’ve got to start somewhere. If we wait till electrification comes if we’re let’s wait till we’ve got the right line. It’s going to cost 2 billion dollars and it’s going to take 25 years. We need to get something going now and then we’ll build on it as we go.
Willi: [00:10:45] So, sorry..
Andrew King: [00:10:46] Once again this is about a partnership between central government and local government and we believe that we want to hold hands with central government and help them achieve what they want. And of course, our region benefits from that partnership as well. Hugely.
Andrew King: [00:11:01] So we’re very pleased with some of the initiatives that central government have here like affordable housing, like especially housing areas which they are allowing us to continue with, like the Peacocke development in the hiff, which they have signed off for us. So we’re very very pleased to partner with this government.
Willi: [00:11:23] So the diesel train, do you see that starting in 18 months time?
Andrew King: [00:11:27] Yeah we see that it will be up and running in 2019 end of 2019.
Willi: [00:11:32] Would you know at this point from which destination to destination which ones they are?
Andrew King: [00:11:36] It will be leaving from Frankton. There’ll be a.. Hamilton City councils has purchased land from Park & Ride in Te Rapa. So there will be a stop in Te Rapa where people can park and there’ll be a bus terminal there as well and then from there it will go up through South Waikato and it will finish somewhere in either Otahuhu or Papakura. And from there you can connect in and very quickly right there unto the electrifying service and get to central Auckland.
Willi: [00:12:05] One of my friends raised a good question the other day and that is about homelessness in Hamilton City.
Willi: [00:12:12] What does the council do about homelessness?
Andrew King: [00:12:14] Central..ahh.. Housing is a central government area through the different places. It’s central government’s job to house people who can’t afford or haven’t got their own home.
Andrew King: [00:12:26] Not local governments. But saying that, there are people out there who are vulnerable. There are people out there who haven’t made good decisions and there are people out there who are on the streets and some of these people are unstable. Some of these people are mentally challenged. As a council, we need to do what we can to connect these people up with the government agencies and with the social sector to ensure that these people are looked after. Do get housed and do get fed and kept warm. It’s very difficult for someone… Some of these people will never get jobs. Some of them could get jobs but if they haven’t got an address if they’ve got somewhere they’re living then it’s very difficult to actually ever bring them back into a productive way of life or even for them a good way of life again as we know it. As the mayor of the city. On the one hand things have to be run in a business-like manner but on the other hand, we’re also here to look after the vulnerable and we do have a responsibility and I think the greater population of New Zealanders see that. That’s why we live in a socialist country where we do get free hospital care, we do get free education up until university level up to the second year of university now and we also need to look after our vulnerable and that’s a part of I think we understand it’s a part of where we are. That’s why we have a tiered tax system. That’s why we have a tiered rating system where the more your house is worth the more you pay.
Andrew King: [00:14:01] Even if you only generate the same amount of services and people accept that and we also need to look after the vulnerable and in this case Councils job is to ensure that they get into the right government agencies so they are looked after.
Willi: [00:14:18] So I’d like to ask you some personal questions as well. So you’ve been in business you’ve done well and how would you measure success. Well, I think what is success to you. What does that mean?
Andrew King: [00:14:32] Probably friends and family having a good relationship with them. Where you don’t provoke people to anger you. A person who can settle vulnerable circumstances rather than inflame them. It’s easy to have a harsh answer to turn people to anger and some of the wisest people in the world have probably lost a lot of credibility by doing that. It’s not about how bright you are. It’s not about how hard you work. Those things help but it’s also about being steady.
Andrew King: [00:15:03] It’s about putting your next step forward and the next step forward and step forward. It’s about being… What I found is everything in my life, has prepared me for the next thing. Which has prepared me for the next. And so there’s a whole series of things that are happening in your life and sometimes it’s uncomfortable positions and things that you don’t like that are happening in your life that you’ve got to realise that you’re being put in those positions where you put yourself in those positions and you work through that which prepares you for something bigger something greater. And I believe there’s a plan for each one of our lives that’s laid out and it’s up to us to step into that plan. The plan is where you don’t know what the plan is but you need to step into the plan as it goes on and there’s steps that are happening which you might be uncomfortable with and that position that you’re in right now where things aren’t how you would like them. You need to learn from those things so that prepares you for the next step and that prepares you for the next step. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be I’ll be mayor of Hamilton City. But looking back, I realised that everything has lead me along this path and each thing along the way even when I didn’t know where it was going was preparing me for where I am today and I’m being prepared today for what’s going to happen next. So we need to handle the situation now with wisdom. You need to settle your spirit. You need to with relationships you have with people.
Andrew King: [00:16:35] Don’t ever burn the bridges because very often those people that you think may not have like you will become the people that will give you a leg up and help you into the next place if you’re going to go on your life or you may not see those people for a decade and then those people might then help you into somewhere where you want to be you want to go. So I I strongly believe that we need to…ohh one other thing I just want to touch on here is that we need to forgive people when they do things wrong to us. Whether you’re wrong or whether they’re wrong. That’s secondary. You actually need to hold things slightly. We need to let things go and holding things tightly stops the momentum in the future. Stops you going forward if you don’t forgive it stops you go forward. So you’ve got to let things go and those same people are people that may even help you going forward. If you if you handle the situations correctly and going back to my other point it’s about the plan that’s there that’s laid out for you that you just need to learn from the situations you’re on so that you mature further so that you learn different aspects of building who you are, both academically and in your personality and so that you’re ready to move into the next thing that’s coming that’s already on its way that you can’t see it.
Willi: [00:17:59] Is there one or two of the greatest obstacles or hurdles in your life that you could touch on that have like helped you move forward but that were great obstacles..is that too private?
Andrew King: [00:18:14] Well when things aren’t going well you’ve got to hang on. You just don’t let go. Don’t give up because you will those situations you’re in if you give up. You’ve given everything away when you go right back to the beginning. If you just hang on in there. Hang on there and keep working keep going forward and it will come right and when it comes right it’s all up to you. Hang on in the situation you were and keep keep holding on. Don’t let it go. When you let it go the whole the whole thing evaporates the whole thing’s gone.
Willi: [00:18:46] That’s amazing. Thank you for that. In ending our conversation, I don’t want to take all your day. And I’m very grateful for the minutes we’ve had here. Most of us when there is a holiday, you know we go to the beach. We go to Tauranga, and we get sun-burnt, and stuff and I did that over the Christmas holidays. What did you do over the Christmas holidays
Andrew King: [00:19:08] Oh my wife runs a children’s home in India, so I went with my wife to the children’s home in India for two weeks which is nice. Normally we would take a group of people over there who are interested in the third world or interests and support our children home. So this time just myself and my wife went so we stayed in a lovely hotel in Kolkata on the way through. And on the way out again. And just sat by the pool, read books, eat food and I just enjoy my wife’s company
Andrew King: [00:19:37] So I just got a simple… I just like reading books. I like the simple things in life. I Like family. I like friends. I dislike putting my feet up so although I am very busy most of the time. And remember in this particular job, I’m here for a reason and a season but when I relax I can also sit down, put my feet up, get a book and enjoy somebody’s company and I’m not driven when I’m not working.
Willi: [00:20:07] One last question. Are you going for the Sevens
Andrew King: [00:20:10] Yes definitely. We all began with my wife both days and my family is gone as well. You are very much looking forward to it.
Willi: [00:20:20] I thank you so much. Thank you for your time. This was great.
Andrew King: [00:20:22] Thanks Willi.
Willi: [00:20:22] And those were the final words. Thank you to Andrew King. Next time we will meet with a professional to discuss Kiwibuild, what is Kiwibuild. How can Kiwibuild help you and your family? What are the benefits of Kiwibuild?
Willi: [00:20:41] Follow me on LinkedIn or on Facebook and you will get a notification when the next podcast is ready. So thank you for joining us today. Thank you for listening. As always I love feedback. Please take a moment and write a review or throw in some suggestions let me know your thoughts. If you are enjoying the podcast, shared with your friends on social media. Send me an e-mail on hello at lifecovered dot nz and let me know how I can make this show better and add value until next time. Take care.