Congratulations to Ritana for taking out the Ki o Rahi regional competition. The day was a super competitive event and Lytton High did an amazing job to take out the top spot. Congratulations also to Tūranga Wahine Tūranga Tane 1 and Horouta Wānanga for also qualifying to represent our region at the nationals in Hawkes Bay this month. I know you’ll do us proud.

This week I want to touch on a couple of long term strategic parts of council business. One is our spatial planning and the other is our Cultural Futures training.

At the moment council are engaging with community about what our regional aspirations are for our spatial plan. A spatial plan is a long-term strategy that sets the direction for development, investment and conservation within our region. Our spatial plan is looking out to 2050. We want to know what your bigger dreams are for the future of our district in respect to subjects like climate change, biodiversity, population change, transport network, tourism, recreation, economic activity and many other subjects.

The spatial plan aims to foster community resilience, and our ability to adapt to change, support ways to build wider community prosperity and improve regional sustainability.

Recently I stated the pistol club and homeowners have been caught in our inadequate spatial plan. Council hadn’t planned properly and had allowed development around the gun club, and this has caused friction due to noise. Situations like this is exactly why we need to have a whole-of-community informed spatial plan. All of the similar activities like gun clubs, drone flying etc should be planned for and grouped together in our region. This gives certainty to future home builders and also to our residents who participate in these activities. A robust spatial plan should ensure that all of us get to enjoy our region fully and we need to hear your voice regarding our spatial plan.

I’m looking forward to Friday for our Cultural Futures training for the whole of council. The Cultural Futures training came out as one of the recommendations from the Code of Conduct process councillors went through in the third quarter of 2018. The training is mandatory for all councillors, however even if it wasn’t I’d still choose to go.

I like things that inform me more about my region, it’s why I think things like our Western and Eastern tours are important. Similarly, I think the Cultural Futures training will further inform us and give us a deeper understanding of our region. Anyone from anywhere can read the council documents, learn to read a P&L statement and learn meeting protocols. Being a district councillor includes those things, but is so much more.

In order to make meaningful decisions we need to continue to learn about our region. No one person can know everything and there are always new things to learn about us. We all want what’s best for the region; this training is another way to ensure we give our best. I look forward to seeing all of us councillors there.

Two weeks on and the Christchurch massacre is still a huge shock to the New Zealand system. This will probably be the biggest mass killing of my natural life; the genesis of the attack was intolerance for people that are different. People that look different, people that practice a different faith, people that wear different clothing.

I want to commend the Muslim community for the example they set. To publicly forgive and send a message of love to the terrorist who killed your husbands, wives and children is powerful. Your strength has changed this councillor for the better.

As always, proud to serve you Te Tairāwhiti.