I want to congratulate our most recent appointments to the Queens Honours list, Sir Derek Lardelli and Taka Mackey MNZM. Two solid and long serving pou in our community, the acknowledgement is well deserved. A special acknowledgement also to Arish Naresh MNZM, even though you don’t live here anymore, you left your mark on Gisborne. Congratulations all, my chest swells with pride.

This week in council we have the Regional Transport and the Wastewater committees meeting.

The Wastewater committee is discussing Alternative Use and Disposal (AUD) of our treated water, Turanganui a Kiwa water quality and our Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades.

The Regional Transport committee are appointing community advisors to the committee, discussing the overall Strategic Framework of our Regional Land Transport Plan, and noting our council’s submissions to central government on road and rail.

Both committee meetings will be very interesting and both will be livestreamed so feel free to watch.

I wanted to make specific mention of our submissions to central government in Regional Transport. Central government make unilateral policies that dictate what our national priorities are. From those priorites flow the work and the funding. Staff have made an excellent submission to the government on the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS 2021) outlining the ways the draft policy statement could disadvantage us.

Central government have made some decisions that worry me about the future of our regional roads.

They have removed an activity class called ‘Regional Improvements’ and have proposed that the ‘Local Roads Improvements’ activity class is funded much lower.

Regional Improvements is about investment to the transport levels of service outside of major metropolitan areas to support regional economic growth. Essentially a contestable fund designed for regions like ours to fund improvements on our roads that gives a greater benefit to the State Highway. Local Roads Improvements is self explanatory.

I’m sure there’s some logical rationale from central government about the shifts inside the policy, but from my own past experience when our district gets put into a pot with everyone else, we usually get overlooked.

Let’s hope our submission is heard and the policy changed.

Also, this week in council, we will be hearing a lot more from our community about the decision to place the endeavours.

Even though that decision occurred last week, the community voice will continue through to this week. Thus I want to take a little time to talk about the elephant in the room: council’s decision to not consult.

I’ve seen us consult multiple times with the same, small group of interested people over the cutting down of trees. I’ve seen us consult widely, in partnership with Sports Gisborne, with various interested parties about the installation of a playground. No one has ever said to me ‘stop consulting me, you’re consulting me too much’ in fact, I’m often told the opposite; that we don’t consult enough.

At a fundamental level, I think council has a legislative requirement to consult under the Treaty Claims Settlement Act with, at the very least, the three settled Iwi, as consultation probably didn’t occur the first time the endeavours were erected.

Asking our community, especially our most interested communities, what you want, is what we’re elected to do. To me, if we don’t get it right on the little jobs, then I worry about the big jobs.

I thought we should’ve consulted, hence the way I voted. And I still think that way this week.

It’s not often that my column and a birthday of a loved one lines up, so I want to take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to my sister. I love you, Huinga. I know you’re celebrating in Heaven. I’m looking forward to seeing you when I get there.

As always, proud to serve you Tairawhiti.