Kei aku nui, aku rahi, e hika mā! A huge congratulations to our five kapa haka roopu who represented our region, Te Tairāwhiti, at the National Kapa Haka Competition held in Wellington last week. You took our stories, our people and our issues to a stage that is watched internationally and by your example you showed them the best of us. A special acknowledgment to the drivers, cooks and helpers who looked after our kapa. Our regional excellence in that world of haka wouldn’t happen without you. We are very proud of you all. Kei te mihi.

This week in council we have our official council meeting on Thursday. We will be discussing our annual plan, fees, charges, Wastewater, the Olympic Pool upgrade, the Local Government Commission’s determination on the representation review and our Gambling Venue policy review for 2019.

I had the privilege of writing about the representation review twice at it’s various stages and now I get to write what will be the final look at it for this council term.

For the uninitiated, the representation review is about the makeup of councillors, boundaries, wards, and boards etc that will represent the public in council. The Commission determined that the Gisborne District Council should maintain the status quo; which is 9 city councillors, 4 rural councillors and one mayor.

The council has to abide by the Commission’s decision for the election in 2019. Also, council has to decide what it will do in the future. The three options in front of us are; we can tell future councils they also have to abide by the current representation for the 2022 election, or we can tell the next council they have to review the current representation for the 2022 election, or we can decide to let the next council decide what they should do. Personally, I am a fan of the last option. We have our determination for 2019, let’s move on and let future councils and their future communities decide what will happen then.

Gambling is also a hot community topic at the moment. Our regions high level of deprivation means that gambling harm is disproportionately affecting some parts of our community. We’ve heard the community’s voices loud and clear, so while looking at the Draft Gambling Venue Policy 2019 we have tightened up two areas. We have put a sinking lid on board venues (TAB) thereby not allowing the establishment of any more board venues, previously we only applied sinking lid to pokie machine numbers. Secondly, we have prohibited the relocation of Class 4 venues, under any circumstances, which means that if a Class 4 venue has to move they will lose their Class 4 status and gambling facilities. I believe this will give more effect to our sinking lid decision. Currently the machines were just moved around our community and the lid never sunk. This decision puts a stop to that practice.

We will be consulting on the policy from March the 7th to April the 9th. Whenever we consult, we always hear from our detractors, however I would like to encourage you to please let us know if you support the changes.

Remember, our meetings are public so anyone is allowed to attend. For those who can’t be there physically, we broadcast the meetings online. Feel free to check in on us to make sure we’re serving you properly.

As always, proud to serve you Te Tairāwhiti.