Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 20 June 2019

Working for our wellbeing

Last month the government made headlines with its Wellbeing Budget. Rather than focusing only on economic growth, this budget looks at the state of our natural resources, our people and our communities as important indicators of how well our nation is doing.

The coalition government also recently passed the Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill. This puts four indicators of community wellbeing - social, economic, environmental and cultural - back into the Local Government Act. These had been removed in a review of the Act by the previous government.

Most local authorities continue to deliver across these four areas and this change recognises that fact. It also recognises that many residents want their councils to do more than only build roads, collect rubbish and provide street lights. They expect local authorities to contribute to communities by providing cultural and social amenities, such as community halls, parks, libraries, swimming pools and sports grounds. They also expect their local representatives to reflect concerns about protecting our precious natural environment.

The Far North District Council takes its social responsibilities seriously. We know that the Far North is a fantastic place, but we also know that many of our communities wrestle with a range of social problems. We are working on ways to tackle these problems and improve community wellbeing.

For example, we are a supporter of Kaitaia's Te Hiku Sports Hub. Construction of this state-of-the-art, all-season sports and aquatic facility is well underway. When completed, our district will have sports hubs in all three wards with Kiakohe's Lindvart Park and the Sports Complex at Kerikeri.

These facilities provide measurable benefits for our residents. That is why Te Hiku doctors are also strong supporters of the hub. They know that encouraging physical activity is a key way to avoid a range of physical and mental diseases, and that having high quality, inclusive facilities that people want to visit creates a sense of pride and boosts community cohesion. We need that if we want our children to stay in the Far North and new people to join our communities.

Elsewhere in the district, Kaikohe made headlines this year when we helped bring the first-ever pre-season Super Rugby match to Lindvart Park. The sell-out game proved a huge hit with locals and visitors, and we hope to hold more of these events. In the Bay of Islands, we are supporting construction of Te Hononga, an iconic building modelled on the ideas of Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

This promises to transform the centre of Kawakawa. Many of you may have attended the Upsurge Bay of Islands Arts Festival earlier this year. This Council-supported event inspires and connects our communities and is held every two years.

I know the Far North needs a strong economy, sustainable jobs and investment. Just as important for our wellbeing are vibrant communities that have a sense of pride in our place.



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