This week in council are our committee meetings. Community Development has quite a lot on it’s plate this week. We have an awesome surf sculpture at Roberts Rd on the cards, and the Wainui Lions Junior Cycle Track looking like it was be completed by December, in time for the Christmas holidays. That’s a ‘famous last words’ statement if I’ve ever read one, but I’m forever the optimist and look forward to the communities use of the track once it’s completed.

Also in Comm Dev we have a huge piece of work in the Draft Community Facilities Strategy paper.

The aim of the Community Facilities Strategy is to outline region wide development of a cost-effective and sustainable network of fit-for-purpose community facilities over the next 20+ years. It takes into account aquatic facilities, parks and open spaces, arts facilities, play spaces, sports facilities, trees and gardens. The scope is huge.

As a region we need to be conscious where we are going moving forward. We are a small region with a limited budget, we can’t do everything. But with sensible planning, honest community conversations, tough debates, hustle and flexibility we can try to make sure what we do is smart and cost effective. Which is a big ask of us as councillors, because our track record doesn’t exactly scream smart, hustle or flexible. But I think we’re getting there and we need your help to do so.

The strategy is draft and will be in community consultation, which means we need your feedback. Your feedback doesn’t need to be across the entire range of categories up for consultation, you may specifically have an opinion about gardens, or arts. Please, let us know.

In Environmental Planning and Regulations we have a great paper about how council can support and incentivise biodiversity on private land. Council can take a lead role in various areas like providing quality information regarding funds and region wide biodiversity, ensure we jointly set priorities with landowners, Iwi and other interested groups.

Also in EPR is a paper on the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management update.

The national policy statement for freshwater management update ramps up the legislative obligations of all districts and councils in Aotearoa NZ.

National Policy Statements are created under the power of the Resource Management Act. The statements are about environmental issues that are of national significance, which require everyone to be on the same page. This paper is about fresh water.

How a policy is supposed to make sense is in making districts come up to the same standard, in this case regarding fresh water quality. It’s no point in one district ramping up their water quality standards if the neighbours aren’t. We’ll be pushing the proverbial up hill.

The biggest issue with the change in the statement is the increase in monitoring, which leads to an increase in expense. At the very least we are obligated to this cost by compliance, however at a higher. It’s another thing on top of an every mounting list of things that we need to manage regarding our financial bottom line.

Usually I begin my columns with a community mention but this time I want to end it with a special mihi to Uncle Lewis Moeau. A rangatira of Te Tairāwhiti, a pou for Rongowhakaata, a champion of reo, kapa haka me onā tikanga. He served the Governor General, the Prime Minster and various heads of state. He served our district. He served Rongowhakaata. He served us all and he served us well. Here’s to unfinished conversations Uncle Lew, I look forward to the day I get to finish them with you. Rest in Love.

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

Nga manaakitanga o te runga rawa. Blessings from above.