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


Moving forward together

10 December 2020

An extraordinary year

With the Christmas break and New Year fast approaching it is natural to look back over the past 12 months. I don’t think anyone would argue this was an extraordinary year.

Locally, we were hit by a record-breaking drought that saw three of our communities come close to running out of water. Kaikohe was hardest-hit but taps in Kaitaia and Rawene were also in danger of running dry. They didn't, thanks largely to the remarkable water conservation efforts of residents and businesses and assistance from iwi groups to help us quickly develop supplementary water supplies. In Kaitaia Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto helped us tap into underground supplies, while the Lake Omapere Trust and Omapere Taraire E Rangihamama X3A Ahuwhenua Trust assisted with an alternative supply for Kaikohe. We are now progressing permanent alternatives with a second bore due to be operational soon for Kaikohe, and new groundwater supplies for Kaitaia to be completed before next summer.

Of course, 2020 will be remembered as the year COVID-19 disrupted the entire planet, killing close to 1.5 million people, including 25 in New Zealand. Fortunately, we have not seen rampant rates of infection, but our economy has taken a hit. This has not been as severe as predicted in Northland, but many have lost jobs and businesses have closed. Luckily, our region has received significant Government assistance to help us weather the economic downturn. The Council and our commercial company, Far North Holdings Ltd, have won more than $65 million for infrastructure projects in COVID-19 economic recovery funding and from the Provincial Growth Fund. Physical work has begun on several of these with more due to begin next quarter. These will have a lasting impact on our district with some, such as water storage projects near Kaikohe, likely to transform the way some do business.

Many Kiwis will be travelling north for their summer break this year. This increases the risk of COVID-19 spreading if we again see cases of community infection. I urge you all to follow Northland DHB’s advice to continue contact tracing. If you are expecting a lot of visitors, the DHB suggests you provide a contact tracing QR Code poster they can use. Likewise, if you are renting out your home or bach, please provide guests with a QR Code. You can create a poster quickly and easily by going to the Ministry of Health website.

During the break Council staff and contractors will be collecting rubbish and keeping our facilities clean. They will ensure drinking water keeps flowing and other vital services operate. Please help by disposing of rubbish correctly. Random patrols of popular dog exercise areas will also be undertaken to ensure dogs are under control and owners understand and adhere to our Dog Management Policy 2018.

As always, please drive carefully. Take care of yourselves, your whanau and others on our roads. Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year. Look after each other and have a great Far North summer.



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