Mayor's Column for August 2016

Tuesday, 02 August 2016

WELCOME to this month’s column. No doubt many of you have developed wet feet over the past few weeks, as the soil water tables have been well and truly replenished! I have just returned from a break in the South Island, where Canterbury is enjoying its driest, warmest winter for many years, a real contrast to here.


The annual Local Government New Zealand conference took place in Dunedin last week and was a great chance to catch up with mayors, councillors and chief executives from all parts of the country. I particularly look forward to networking with other rural councils, to look at issues they are facing and to learn from what solutions they may have come up with to dealing with them.

Topics discussed were:

  • police resourcing issues and the strain on police in rural and provincial areas; 
  • the influx of ‘freedom campers’ as a result of tourism growth and how to manage the strain on infrastructure, and the volume of these tourists; 
  • the focus on collaborating across councils to gain greater efficiencies in delivering council services. 

I was asked to speak about our experiences in the Waikato, especially around the leadership of the Mayoral Forum. What was very apparent to me was we in the Waikato region, are way ahead of other regions in regard to the amount of shared services we have established.

One of the conference’s themes was on ‘Tomorrow’s Places’ – what our future communities will look like and the challenges local government will face in providing for these future needs. This was a fascinating part of the conference, and has been uppermost in our thinking here at the WDC for some time. I believe we have huge opportunities in this space, as technologies develop at an ever increasing space. Andrea and I took a few days off after the conference visiting Queenstown, Wanaka and Lake Tekapo, as we drove back to Canterbury. The influence of the growth in the numbers of tourists was very obvious, with similar challenges as we face at Waitomo Village.


A big thank you to all 70-plus of you who attended our Business Legends Breakfast last month. It was excellent to see such support, and I hope you agree with some of my thoughts on the exciting opportunities we have in front of us. It was great to see the networking taking place, something we want to increasingly foster and encourage. It was also pleasing to see more people joining that morning as members of Te Kuiti Development Inc. They need your support to create positive benefits for our district.


One last reminder that we have local body elections on October 8. Nominations are now open and forms are available from WDC or on our website - I encourage you to consider standing for council, and if you are serious about it, then you only have until midday on August 12 to get your nomination in.