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


Moving forward together

Thursday 8 December 2016

Sun, surf and Christmas cycling

I'm probably biased, but for my money you just can't beat summer in the Far North. I think what we have here is about as good as it gets. And I'm not alone.

New Zealanders and foreign tourists alike flock to our District during the holiday period. They come here to share our wonderful harbours, our kai moana, our forests and, perhaps for a number of them, a nostalgic idea of how life used to be.

Along with our traditional drawcards of sun, surf and sand, this summer we're also offering visitors something new. There's the fantastic Waitangi Mountain Bike Park that opened in October and also the Twin Coast Trail - Pou Herenga Tai. It's taken a lot of negotiation and work, but we're almost there. The official opening will be early in the New Year, but you can ride most of the trail already.

These attractions are diversifying our tourism industry by providing new business opportunities in established tourism hubs like Paihia, but also in new areas along the cycle trail. I believe both attractions will be hugely beneficial for the District. With so many visitors, our communities come under greater scrutiny.

You may have read in this paper about an illegal rubbish dump Council cleaned up in Ngaiotonga Scenic Reserve near Russell. This story received much publicity after an appalled tourist publicised what he had found in this beautiful reserve. Ratepayers spent around $14,000 on the Ngaiotonga clean-up, but that's a fraction of what was paid in 2015 cleaning up illegal dumps. Together we spent close to $65,000 to remove fridges, tires, car bodies, mattresses and household rubbish pushed off roadsides and into streams across the Far North.

People ask why we don't prosecute these vandals. We do when we can, but legal action should be a last resort not our first option. The answer lies with us, the people of the Far North. Those who show so little regard for our precious environment need to get a clear message that it's not acceptable to desecrate where we swim, where we walk or the water we drink.

Visitors come here to see and experience the culture and beauty of the Far North. We have so much to offer, so let's make sure they want to come back.

This is my final column for 2016. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with whanau and friends wherever you are. Look after your loved ones and I wish you a great Far North summer.



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