By the time you’re reading this, the Prime Minister will have announced whether we are staying in Level 4 or not. Whatever the decision is I really want to applaud our regional household efforts.

I remember before lockdown there used to be numerous groups of our Inner Kaiti rangatahi that would walk past my house daily. However, during lockdown I haven’t seen a single group walk past. I want to acknowledge my London, Glasgow, York, Ranfurly, Oxford, Cambridge and Belfast st communities for playing their part in our wider regional efforts to control the potential spread of COVID-19. If what I’m seeing in my suburb is an indication of what all of our suburbs are doing, then it’s safe to say that Tairawhiti is playing our part by staying at home in our bubbles. I know there have been sporadic incidences of people gathering and going on non-essential travel, but by in large, we’ve been staying home and saving lives.

The Prime Minister in Sunday’s press conference said NZ as a country has had very, very high compliance in comparison to other countries, and it’s these efforts, by suburb, by region and as a country, that have helped us flatten the curve so quickly.

This week in council we have an Extraordinary Council meeting to decide whether or not we should reset our Annual Plan in order to reduce the proposed rates rise for 2020, and if so, what would that look like on a principled basis.

I personally feel council does need to adjust our Annual Plan, within our legislative boundaries, in order to reduce the proposed rates rise in recognition of what our families, our suburbs, our region and our nation will be facing over the next Annual Plan period.

However, as councillors, we also have a duty to ensure our regions infrastructure, future essential work programme and our statutory obligations are met. I’d like to see us focus on meeting our core obligations in the first instance and defer the “nice-to-haves” in the short term. It’s a fine balancing act and I’m sure the debate will be robust.

Just lastly, I want to talk about two things I think we should be focused on during our recovery; supporting local small and medium businesses, and continuing to Be Kind.

Our small and medium businesses are taking a massive hit right now. When we talk about the economy, usually we imagine suit wearing, corporate international juggernauts. I’m talking about our small and medium businesses like Sunshine Breweries, Far East Coffee, Patutahi Boxing, the vege trucks, Haati Naati cafe and Blitz Surf Shop. Businesses that are crucial to the fabric of our Tairawhiti community.

I’ve always localised my spending, which was quite straightforward pre-COVID. However, now in this post-COVID environment we will need to be making a stronger concerted effort to shop locally online.

I don’t know how I will be able to contactless-ly purchase fruit and veges from the vege truck or continue to box, but I will be actively looking for ways to support. I urge you to do the same, safely, and from within your bubble.

Secondly, please remember to keep being kind. In the future when our alert levels move, there will be a slight increase in activity in the community and on the roads. We need to remember that each one of us are doing our best to break the chain in our region. Our focus is to continue to be kind to the people in our bubble and to think kindly of our Tairawhiti people operating in their bubbles.

It’s within our reach to break the chain of infection. We’re almost there.

As always, proud to serve you Tairawhiti.