This past week we saw 57 kapa haka teams from around the nation descend on our piece of paradise for Te Mana Kura Tahi, the primary schools kapa haka nationals. Each team has approximately 40 students with around the same amount of parents, tutors, teachers and caregivers for support. If we include the amount of camera people, judges, media and other professionals associated with the event then Te Tairāwhiti had an influx of around 5000 people who stayed here for a week.

I want to pay homage to our marae and the hau kaenga who played a vital part in hosting our visitors, to our local kapa who stood; you made us all so very proud.

Lastly, but definitely not least I want to acknowledge all of the kaupoi/volunteers who managed gates, tickets, clean up, schedules and every other facet of the event; you made the week run fantastically. Especially you, aunty Charlotte Gibson, you are always our go-to-person, solid as a rock, Te Tairāwhiti can not do what it does without you. Kei te mihi.

This week in council we have our Future Tairāwhiti meeting.

Future Tairāwhiti’s purpose is to give focus and dedicate time, in addition to our committee and council meetings, to discuss our regions major strategic projects, plans and policies.

This week in FT our agenda is quite light but still very important. I have chosen to elaborate on the Development Contributions policy review and the update of the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan.

Development Contributions are charges imposed on people or businesses that are developing buildings, houses, businesses etc to pay for the capital works required to support their development. So if I decide to put another house on the back of my property then it’s going to put more strain on our public system (water, sewerage etc). So I have to pay a development contribution that pays for the upgrade of the public infrastructure to handle the strain.

Our current DC charges are low when you compare our district with other similar districts. There is room to adjust charges, which is why the paper is asking councillors to task the Chief Executive to develop a draft policy for consultation and to focus on the quantum of charges, which includes an increased charge.

The Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan update is quite exciting to read. It’s great to see all different groups leading different parts of the plan; Activate Tairāwhiti, Iwi, Ngāti Porou miere and council to name a few.

There are gains being made in several strategically significant areas. Investigating wood processing locally and regionally will create higher value products and jobs on the ground here in Te Tairāwhiti which makes sense because we are a forest heavy region. The focus on Mānuka honey development, extraction and research also makes sense due to our already established manuka forests, ideal manuka growing lands and tricky coast terrain. Due to the mānuka not having to be harvested and bees being able to access it being the only requirement, means that planting can occur on previously unproductive land.

There are other focus points; tourism, long term sustainable access to water, improving our State Highways; 35 and 2, and also developing our people to be work ready in this ever changing world and work enviroment.

For more details, please feel free to read the Future Tairāwhiti agenda, which is freely available to the public online and at council or come along to our meeting this Thursday at the Cossie club at 9am.

As always Te Tairāwhiti, it’s my privilege and honour to serve you.