The first few weeks as your newly elected Mayor have kept me busy getting myself and my fellow Councillors organised for the new triennium.
I’ve attended a Mayoral induction in Wellington at which I met both new and experienced mayors from around New Zealand, and several government personnel and will continue to build positive relationships across the sector. The new Councillors have been working through an induction program, to ensure they fully understand the breadth of activities and responsibilities that local government is charged with delivering. We’ve also changed our committee and meeting structure to deliver efficiencies, and worked through the appointment of councillors to the various external boards and committees we are privileged to be a part of.
A real highlight was a trip around the District visiting our facilities, learning about current infrastructure, and discussing the infrastructure projects we have in the pipeline – no pun intended! All of this has reinforced my belief that we have a capable and motivated group of Councillors, and a solid team led by our CEO, Angela Oosthuizen and I look forward to working with them to deliver positive outcomes for our communities and the District.
The District Plan review, while long overdue, is now well underway. The current planning framework is outdated and has not kept pace with growth. This is leading to outcomes that were not anticipated when the operative District Plan was drafted and are impacting our communities. This is a critical document because it provides the framework to allow growth in a managed and sustainable way, while protecting the things that you have told us make the Mackenzie District so special. Partnering with mana whenua and the community, the new District Plan will look to raise the bar for the future of the Mackenzie District. It will ensure MDC can manage the effects of growth while planning for the future. It will also ensure the environmental, social and economic needs of each community are provided for. It’s a large and complex document, and so we’re working through it in stages. You can find the latest information and details of how to share your thoughts or participate in the process on our website, and I encourage you to get involved and play your part on shaping the Mackenzie District of the future.
I’m particularly excited that Council is now in a position to play a more active role in Community Development. Once recruited, we will have community development officers based in both Twizel and Fairlie. This will enable us to work more effectively in partnership with the various stakeholder and volunteer groups that are the backbone of our communities to deliver outcomes that you tell us you want to see delivered. We’ll shortly be asking for your input on planning for community projects to be considered for inclusion in the next iteration of our long-term (ten year) plan and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to get involved and share your thoughts. There will be the opportunity to feedback online, via paper based forms or at drop in sessions in Twizel, Tekapo and Fairlie.
Rārangi maunga, tū te ao, tū te pō,
Rārangi tangata, ka matemate noa,
Rārangi raraunga, ka ao ka awatea,
Hei oranga mō te iwi,
Rows of mountains will endure time
Rows of people will eventually pass on
But rows of data bring new knowledge and enlightenment
For the wellbeing of all people.
Kia kaha Aotearoa, let’s take this wellbeing journey together.
Central Government is also keeping us busy with a rapid program of change and reform, some more advanced than others, and some will have more impact than others. I’m in the process of digesting the contents of the initial recommendations of the report into the review of the future for local government which was released last week. I’ll aim to share some thoughts with you on this, and other proposed reforms, in the next edition of the Mackenzie Messenger which will be with you in February next year.
I look forward to meeting as many people as possible in the coming weeks and months. A reminder that there is time set aside for members of the public to address Council at the beginning of every council meeting, and we can arrange for this to happen over teams or zoom if needs be. No one knows our communities better than you – the people who live and work in them – and so I encourage you to get involved and provide feedback when there is the opportunity to do so. We do listen, and often make changes to draft plans based on your feedback.
I’m conscious as I write this that the holiday season will soon be upon us! So can I take this opportunity to wish you, your family, whanau and friends a very merry Christmas, and happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.