At the forefront of everyone’s minds right now is the vaccination programme. Slowly but surely we are getting our numbers up.

I want to applaud the staff from Ngāti Porou Hauora, Tūranga Health, Tu Mai Tairawhiti and Hauora Tairāwhiti for making vaccinations accessible and being open to go everywhere to make it happen.

I also want to applaud the community leaders who are engaging heavily in their circles of influence to play their part in helping increase access for their communities. Access has always been the solution, and together we can provide it.

There is no magic wand to get us to over 90%. It’s a mountain that we have to keep chipping away at.

I know that we set high expectations of ourselves, our orgs and our government, but I want to remind us that we are one of the last countries in the world to roll out our vaccination programme. There was very good reason for that. Our situation wasn’t as dire as it was in other countries, so we waited. Most countries have had a head start on us and while we’re not where we want to be yet, we can be proud that we are on par or ahead of where other countries were at their similar stage of vaccination. We’ve done well over such a short period of time, but we still have lots more to do. We’ll get there. We just have to put in the work.

This week in Council we are holding the Traffic and Parking Bylaw Hearing and our Audit and Risk meeting.

The purpose of an Audit and Risk committee is to address internal and external auditing, overseeing risk management, reporting, accountability, controls, and compliance.

We as elected members on the Audit and Risk committee are tasked with setting a direction and the context within which the staff can operate. We exercise stewardship of our community assets for the short, medium and long term. We manage risk, promote transparency and strengthen accountability.

It is our role to ensure council’s financial reporting is reliable and has integrity, which are essential parts of transparency and accountability.

Within everything inside the council brief there are risks, both financial and non-financial. These risks must be identified, mitigated and then managed. Our role as a committee on behalf of the wider elected membership is to gain an assurance that there are robust processes to manage risks appropriately.

In that vein, this week we will be discussing something that has plagued our beaches for a long time, the woody beach debris build up that happens across our region.

Woody debris is best addressed at the source; however, regardless of if it is from forestry, riparian planting, or just someone’s random tree on their property, once the debris has reached the beach it is the council’s responsibility to manage.

For my entire life council’s response has been reactionary to woody debris on the beaches; our region would have a storm event and then council, contractors and forestry would piece together a plan. Now we are trying to formalise what our response to the debris should be. In the short term the focus will be on the city and Uawa for obvious reasons but we really need to look at what we can do long term on beaches across the entirety of Te Tairāwhiti.

This debris is a danger to our people and our environment. With the increasing likelihood of heavy rain events due to climate change, it is only right that the A&R committee ensure that we address this issue to manage these risks for our community.

As always, proud to serve you.