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

JOHN CARTER - MAYOR OF THE FAR NORTH DISTRICT OF NEW ZEALAND


Moving forward together

Thursday 18 April 2019

Good news at Easter

Good Friday tomorrow begins one of the most important celebrations on the Christian calendar. Many of you will take the opportunity to visit your local church or mark the occasion in your own way at home.

Easter weekend for many of us also signals the tail end of summer and a final opportunity to gather with family and friends before winter really begins to bite. Families will soon load up the car and hit the road to join their loved ones throughout New Zealand.

For many business owners in Northland, Easter weekend also marks another important milestone. It is the end of the summer tourism season. To demonstrate just how important this is, tourism operators will be holding the second annual Bay of Islands Tourism Ball on 4 May. Whether they run a B&B from home or own one of the many tourism businesses in the Bay of Islands, this is their chance to celebrate their industry. And it is worth celebrating.

If we look at one sector: according to Tourism New Zealand, over 103,000 cruise ship passengers visited the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa Harbour in the 12 months to June 2018. That was a 17 per cent increase on the year before. Statistics NZ also tells us that those 103,000 passengers spent over $14 million in the Far North - 79 per cent more than the previous year. This summer season we will have welcomed around 130,000 passengers from 64 ships. Today the liner Noordam, arrives carrying 1800 passengers, while our final visitor for the season, the Sea Princess with around 2000 passengers, arrives on 11 May.

Add to that overseas visitors who fly or drive to the Far North and the many Kiwis who visit each year, and you can see how much tourism contributes to our economy. We are working hard to ensure these visitors are taken care of. Our commercial company, Far North Holdings, began a $9 million upgrade to three Bay of Islands’ wharves this month and work to expand Bay of Islands Airport is now nearing completion.

Our cycle trail has done a great job of spreading the tourism dollar further across the district, and the Government is also helping by funding visitor projects, including Sir Hek Busby's Kupe Waka Centre and the Manea Footprints of Kupe centre in the Hokianga.

As we know, Northland is a favourite destination over Easter and our roads will be extra busy. The Police are already out determined to make this Easter crash-free in Northland. They are emphasising the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, and the importance of wearing seatbelts. Sadly, Northland has the worst record in the country for deaths and serious injuries where seat belts were not used.

So please, if you’re driving over Easter, stay focused, belt-up and make sure you and other road users get to see their loved ones this long weekend.

 

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