In Good Voice for the Folk of Milford

Channel People: Community Gem, Peter Carter

After years of playing guitar and singing on the Auckland folk music circuit, architect and city planner Peter Carter is now playing to a different tune - using his voice to be an active member of the local community. 

Peter studied for a Bachelor of Architecture degree finishing in 1967, and went on to complete a Master of Architecture. He also played with his college folk group at many of Auckland's top nightclubs. With his background in architecture and city planning, it's no surprise that Milford Residents Association member Peter has got something to say about the plans for Milford. Channel Magazine put some questions to this 'community gem' about his life and his work in the local community...
Courtney Bennett: How did you get involved in the Milford community?
Peter Carter: When I saw plans for a high-rise development on the Milford Mall site that was so out-of-context with traditional Milford values, I held a public meeting on 17 May 2008 to discuss the proposed development.  I continued for two years as Chairman of Milford Residents Association before seeing a need for a wider community vision. I formed the Milford Village Forum (MVF) to bring together diverse Groups within the Milford/Castor Bay community to discuss major urban design issues, and finally prepared a ‘Milford Community-Led Visioning Report’ (commissioned by the forward-thinking Devonport-Takapuna Local board), which has been influential in ensuring that community views are included in the Milford Town Centre Plan.
CB: Tell readers in one sentence what the Milford Residents Association is all about, from your perspective…
PC: It's all about creating a community vision and making sure we have a strong community voice.
CB: Have you always been community-minded?
PC: My early interest was in professional music groups, but my passion for community began when I saw the plans for a high-rise development here in Milford. I felt that Council and its officers were not listening to our community.  Our community voice needs to be heard and I felt I could make a difference.
CB: What does a typical day look like for you?
PC: A leisurely stroll to coffee at a local café, a chat to anyone who will listen, keeping in touch with Milford groups and keeping a watchful eye on issues that may affect Milford, attending meetings as a Trustee of the Takapuna-North Community Trust (which covers the area from Takapuna to Sunnynook), and having fun!
CB: Do you have a favourite place in Milford, and why?
PC: Milford is endowed with wonderful places such as the Wairau Estuary, Milford Beach and Lake Pupuke, supplemented by our central Village Square with sculptures and future planned improvements.  It is an amazing environment for those of us fortunate enough to enjoy its natural beauty.
CB: Anything you feel we could better as a community?
PC: Milford has always been a low-key, people-scale ‘village’, slow-paced and pedestrian friendly, and it is our responsibility to ensure that it still retains these qualities during the long-term and inevitable intensification.  It is important we still have slow traffic, sunlight and trees, ample and well-designed public spaces, and activities that encourage meeting and greeting to promote Milford's caring community culture.
CB: If you could invite any three people over for dinner, who would they be and why?
PC: Planning consultant Stephen Havill, current Co-Chairs of MRA Deb Dunsford and Norma Bott whose contribution to Milford over the past seven years has been enormous, supplemented by Local Board members Mike Cohen, Jan O’Connor, and Joe Bergin, who are always ready to listen.
CB: We’ve had a great summer, what was the best thing you did this summer?
PC: I enjoyed the magnificent lake and beach and the pleasure of a quiet seaside mecca, during the time when many people disappear to other places for their summer holidays.
CB: What other organisations and community groups do you admire and why?
PC: I admire the special volunteers who spend their time leading community groups such as Castor Bay Ratepayers & Residents Association, Takapuna-North Community Trust, Sunnynook Community Centre, Flaxroots and many other clubs that contribute to the community.
CB: In my next life, I am going to come back as…
PC:  An Urban Designer and Facilitator, but with the experiential wisdom that I have now acquired at 71 years of age, to make a greater difference.


By Courtney Bennett

Channel Magazine: Issuu 52 March 2015