This week council has an extremely large agenda with some major decisions ahead. There are 19 decision papers and several public deputations to be made.

Amalgamation of Activate Tairāwhiti and Tourism Eastland is on the cards. This has been in the works for over 18 months.  There is importance in having our Tourism and Regional Economic Development organisations singing from the same song sheet. The regional branding exercise for example is a major project that we need to be clear and consistent on what we are saying as a region. This has drawn considerable financial support from ECT, GDC, Air NZ, Chamber of Commerce and Ngāti Porou.   There are a lot of varied views in the community regarding amalgamation, which should make this an exciting decision paper.

The massive amount of empty Housing NZ houses in the Tairāwhiti region is a pressing issue. Currently number one priority to access those homes is given to anyone moving from Auckland to Gisborne. Meanwhile there are many people in our community who are living in overcrowded housing. There are many sides to the issue of housing; low number of jobs in Gisborne, low wages, not earning enough to pay rent etc. Housing NZ is supposed to fill this gap for low and middle-income families who are feeling the pinch in this tough economic time. Council needs to take a principled position and make it known that we need Housing NZ to house our own people immediately.

Bridge jumping is being addressed with jumping platform solutions. The council staff recommend two options. In the short term a pontoon is proposed in order to provide somewhere for jumpers to go to. The long term option is a permanent jumping platform facility at Hei Pipi park on the river. This solution according to council staff has support from the stakeholder group who are made up of reps from Waka Ama, the Port, Tatapouri Fishing club, police, and community groups. I like the two options proposed, we need to do something urgently for the safety of the jumpers and also for the peace of mind of the other water users.

Finally a subject close to my heart; opposition to deep sea oil drilling. Central government have recently opened up the Block Offer process for deep sea oil drilling in the East Coast and Pegasus basins. This is the same area that was opened up for offer last year. The same block that the Environmental Planning and Regulation committee made the decision to oppose. The same block council ratified EPR’s decision with 8 votes for and 5 votes against. Three of those votes against are no longer on council. This is the same block council officially opposed. There is a council paper reaffirming our council position that we oppose deep sea oil drilling in the Pegasus and East Coast basin. Auckland council and Christchurch city council have recently opposed deep sea oil drilling off their coasts. It’s great to see that we were forward thinking in that space prior to the bigger councils. We are truly are a region of firsts!