by SARAH SPARKS
When the Mayor of Auckland arrives at a meeting centred on social justice driving his own electric car, that signals some alignment of values.
On April 23, for the second time since he took office, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese in Auckland met with Mr Goff for a Q&A at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre.
The commission, an independent body served by volunteers, has had five meetings with different incumbent mayors to date.
The commission chair, Ka Sing Yeung, opened up the forum this year.
“We’re the face of justice and peace doing what we think is right according to our faith,” she said. “Justice lays the path for peace.”
The mayor agreed. “I grew up with a strong sense of justice and peace. We need a fairer, more equal society.”
He said following the pathway of social justice first got him into politics 32 years ago.
The meeting was attended by the new Auckland diocese general manager, James van Schie, who posed questions on behalf of the diocese alongside 15 committee representatives gathered around an oval table.
Various areas of advocacy in the one-hour session were canvassed by representatives from the social welfare and anti-poverty, crime and reconciliation, affordable housing, peace and international justice, social hazards and environmental and sustainability committees, all of which come under the umbrella of the commission.
The topics included: The council’s local alcohol policy, night shelters, zero carbon goals, inclusionary zoning, elder housing, C40 city innovator city status, UN climate and clean air coalition and submissions for a new Catholic secondary school.
Mr Goff also briefed the room on the social impact work of Housing First, which he chairs. The collective of five organisations has accommodated 921 people to date throughout Auckland.
“Homelessness has more fundamental problems — we need to tackle mental health and addiction in a wrap-around way as part of that solution,” he said.
The conversation turned to the environment and the mayor’s Million Trees project that, by June, will have planted 1 million predominantly native trees and shrubs across Auckland.
“Scratch below the surface, there’s a gardener in all of us.” Mr Goff said.
A project that he’s driven personally has created a nursery in a partnership with the Department of Corrections at Auckland Mayor Phil Goff with Wiri and Paremoremo.
It’s clear that climate change is a key concern for the mayor. The Auckland Council has committed to the C40 global agreement to curb global warming.
“When the Prime Minister says it’s the nuclear issue of our age — she’s right,” he said. “We need to play our role as Council, otherwise we don’t have moral authority.”
The next engagement with the mayor is on September 25 at the mayoral forum event held at St Columba Centre in Auckland, during the local body election campaign.
For more information on the Justice and Peace Commission go to: https:// www.aucklandcatholic.org.nz/justice-peace/