The past few weeks have been very auspicious for the East Coast; Hikurangi Pāriha made Matatini for the first time in a long time, Whangarā Mai Tāwhiti won Matatini and Te Tairāwhiti had a new Anglican bishop ordained in Bishop Don Tamihere, events that made me proud and I am sure made us all proud. These are rising tides for us, and as with all rising tides, it raises all ships.

I look forward to making a whirlwind two-day visit up to the East Coast this week with my fellow councillors. This is quite timely considering the recent weather. We’ll get to see the coast in a vastly different light in comparison to the drought conditions we’ve recently experienced and also get to see first hand what heavy down pours do to our east coast roads and land.

It’s an opportunity for all of us to get familiar with the issues on the coast and hear from the different communities about their priorities.

I field a lot of calls from my relations up and down the coast so when I take the kids for quiet trips up to Waipiro we get first hand experiences of some of the things affecting people on the coast. Which is why it’s great council is heading up this week.

The East Coast is the youngest land in Aotearoa and because of this is susceptible to massive movement. This is what contributes to our erosion and road repair issues. As a response Council needs to continue to apply pressure on central government to take our erosion issues seriously. Fund planting to combat erosion on unproductive land blocks. This is a basic response to help stabilise productive land and rehabilitate unproductive land. We need to continue to push central government to recognise that the East Coast is the most at risk to erosion because of the unique way our heavily erodible soil and the heavy flash-flood downpours combine to exacerbate our east coast erosion. The elevated status obligates government to fairly fund land stabilisation and road repair. We need to apply pressure to government to fairly fund work for the terrible state of our East Coast roads.

Anyone who drove the Waiapu rd during the downpour this weekend can attest to the improvements that need to be made. This is a priority to us. Less talk about standards and strategies and just give the funding so we can do the work.

Despite that, there are some exciting things happening on the coast.

High value products and mahi are a focus by quite a few coast groups and something I am very interested in.

Some notable examples are the Ngāti Porou Miere Collective with their growing production of Mānuka honey for international distribution into the Asia and US markets. I’ve followed the burgeoning East Coast biotechnology start up Hikurangi Huataukina Trust with their research work into extraction and their recently approved new trial of hemp at a secret location. Ngati Porou owned Pakihiroa Farms is growing it’s business into developing technologies to be able to potentially supply gourmet foods internationally and to ensure best practice on a global scale.

These economic development initiatives all have a sustainable focus aimed at growing employment and GDP on the coast through specialised, focused, high value products.

Rising tides will eventually raise all ships.

I’m looking forward to spending the night in Hicks Bay this Wednesday. Feel free to drop some kaimoana off. Looking forward to seeing what the weather does.