This week in council we have no council meetings. However we do have a Titirangi walk, a coast trip, a long term plan to release and I’ve managed to get in a couple of ministers ears.

On Sunday I attended the Honorary Advisers dinner for the Asia NZ Foundation at Government House. I had the chance to get in the ear of the Chairman of the Honorary Advisers, Rt Hon Winston Peters. I impressed upon him that our critical priority is spending on our roads. He, of course, took it in his stride, smiled, acknowledged the message then asked me to pass on his best to our mayor, councillors and our region.

On Tuesday I will be meeting with the Hon Kelvin Davis. Like with Winston, I hope to find an opportunity to emphasise to Minister Davis, who is also the Minister for Tourism, our three main infrastructure priorities and their link to Tourism, reinforce that we are ready to collaborate as per our Tairāwhiti Economic Action plan and give a heads up that GDC’s proposals are coming through next week.

My brief encounters alone won’t do much in isolation, but if our collective message is consistent and constant then it increases our chances of something landing.

I feel honoured that I’m asked to participate in these forums, because it gives me the ability, even if it’s briefly, to put our matters in front of decision makers. The fact that I get to do this for us without spending any ratepayer dollars makes it even sweeter.

We’re quite active councillors, and we can’t see everything all the time, but we do try to see everything at least some of the time. So some of us are taking a walk around Titirangi to check out the heritage sites over the maunga on Monday. On Thursday the entire council are taking a trip to Tauwhareparae farms and the Waikanae campgrounds. Visiting Tauwhareparae gives us a good opportunity to view the coast roads. It is always good for us to collectively experience those roads.

This week we will also be releasing the draft long term plan. For the uninitiated, the long term plan determines many things over the next ten years; like spending for our region, policy direction and priority setting. If you have ideas about what we should be prioritising in our plan then please submit to the Draft LTP consultation process. Come and discuss your priorities.

Discussion is important. It’s the only way we ever know our differing perspectives. This has been highlighted recently by the discussions around the naming of our area and the endeavour replicas.

Since the endeavour comments I have only had one person specifically seek me out to comment to me directly. And that conversation was great. I won’t speak on his behalf, however, I did share with him and I still hold to this fact, that we can’t be adding every bit and piece from a passing comment in council into our budget. It’s about the precedent we set when we start funding things, no matter how small, outside of our current budgets. If we make allowance for one thing, then in principle we are allowing the same for every other thing. And we can’t weather that right now.

Not everyone will agree with that, and that’s ok. Honest, open and respectful discussion is what makes a healthy democracy despite disagreeing.

However, one thing I hope we can all agree on is that despite our differences I’ll work hard for our region and take every opportunity I can get to improve our lot for our Tairāwhiti region.

I hope you have a great week.

As always, very proud to serve you Tūranganui a Kiwa.