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


Moving forward together

Thursday 7 December 2017

Creating great places

Summer is finally here. For most Northlanders, this is a time of the year when we get to take a break from work and enjoy outdoor living with family and friends. But summer is also when thousands of people from other parts of New Zealand and the world visit the Far North. This annual influx of visitors is the high season for our tourism sector, which is currently the rock star of our economy.

For example, guest nights totalled $1.26 million in 2016/17, the highest ever recorded. It is estimated that visitors spent $514 million while they were in the District last year, a 13.4% increase on 2016. I am confident the tourism sector will have another great year in 2017/8, even allowing for weather forecasters’ predictions of a wet and warm summer.

The record number of cruise ships that will dock in the Far North this summer will certainly buoy the economy. Sixty-three cruise ships carrying a total of 119,700 passengers will have visited the Far North by the end of the 2017/18 financial year, compared with 51 ships last year. Studies show that cruise ship passengers spend, on average, $160 a day on retail while they are in port, so the District could enjoy a $19 million windfall from cruise ships alone this summer.

I am also pleased to report that Air New Zealand will screen a Far North District Council-funded safety video, which showcases the Far North’s great places, on its aircraft again this summer. The Summer of Safety in-flight video was viewed more than seven million times in the first 30 days of being released last December and shown on flights for more than 4 months. The airline will rescreen the video on aircraft between 1 December and 28 February, helping to promote the district as a holiday destination.

Far North ratepayers are a big part of this success story. The rates you pay the Council fund a range of services and infrastructure that make the Far North a great place to live in and visit. These include two commercial airports, 59 boat ramps, jetties, pontoons and wharfs, 154 hectares of recreational space, town maintenance services in 21 towns, 478 rubbish bins in public places, 15 refuse transfer stations, 13 community recycling centres, 29 playgrounds, four skate parks, 64 public toilets at 43 locations, 21 carparks in nine towns, 196 km of footpath, six public libraries and three i-SITE visitor information centres.

This is not an exhaustive list of the amenities we provide, nor does it include core infrastructure, such as water, roads and sewerage, or regulatory services, such as animal management, that help to keep the district safe. The point I wish to make is that, for a small district, we punch above our weight and are obviously doing a reasonable job or holidaymakers wouldn' back here. This is something we can all take pride in going into the peak visitor period. Merry Christmas everybody. Have a safe holiday and a prosperous 2018.



My Columns
Media Reports
Photo Gallery
Press Releases