Tēnā tātou e te whānau, nga mihi nui ki a koutou I tenei wiki, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, me teneki marama, ko Māhuru Māori.

Huge greetings to us all for this week, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, and for this month, Māhuru Māori. Kia kaha te Reo Māori.

I want to commend Team Tairawhiti on our recent efforts to increase our vaccination rate. A special acknowledgement to Tūranga Health, Ngāti Porou Hauora and Hauora Tairāwhiti for the excellent collaboration in regional vaccine delivery. It was noted to me how special our regional plan is and an example for how their regions could vaccinate. Whatever was your reason to get vaccinated; if you trust the science, if you’re doing it for your family, your elderly or our community, I’m very proud of our collective efforts.

In council this week we will be holding our Finance and Performance meeting and our Operations meeting. Under Level 2 we can meet in person but the advice is that we social distance 1 metre apart and wear masks in our public meetings.

Practicing social distancing and mask wearing prior to COVID’s arrival in Gisborne is smart. COVID will get to our region and we want to be prepared for when it does.

I’m comfortable with us wearing masks. Mask wearing is a practice that is very common in Asian nations so they don’t spread flu and other viruses. When sick, the first line of defence is staying home, but wearing a mask when you’ve stopped being symptomatic but are still contagious is a good habit for our population to adopt.

This week in Council we’re discussing the Local Government Rating of Whenua Maori Act, Debt Management, Procurement, Waingake, and the Uawa Scientific Groundwater Bore Drilling Project.

I want to focus on the Awapuni to Waipaoa Cycleways update.

The cycleway project from Awapuni to Waipaoa so far has delivered 450m of concrete cycleway along Centennial Marine drive, and 8km of gravel trails from Waipaoa River mouth to Matawhero River State Highway 2 bridge. The gravel trails were installed on the top of the recently upgraded Waipaoa stopbank. I want to acknowledge The Motu Trails Charitable Trust for filing the resource consent for this part of the works.

There is a part of the project between Centennial Marine Drive and the river mouth that isn’t connected up yet. That part crosses the Dunes and as such is being called the Dunes trail. The Gisborne Cycle and Walkway Trust have have put their hand up to engage with Rongowhakaata and Kopututea Trust to collaborate on a joint project to complete the Dunes trail. This is still in it’s early stages so is still being developed.

We are expecting all the Waipaoa stop banks on the eastern side of the Waipaoa River to be completed by mid 2022. After this, work will start on the stop banks on the other side of the Waipaoa River.

I look forward to this project being completed but in a manner that ensures meaningful engagement is had with Iwi, land trusts, our cycling advocates and wider community.

All of our papers are very interesting this week so I encourage you to tune into the livestream to watch our council meetings, visit the website and read our papers, or come in to council and request a hard copy. Under Level 2 guidelines you are allowed to come in; wear a mask and check in on the COVID tracer app or write your details on the clipboard at the council entry.

As always, it’s a privilege to do this work on your behalf Te Tairawhiti.