During my speech to an audience of approximately 100 Chinese business leaders in Beijing last Thursday, I highlighted that ‘our focus is not only on improving the life styles of our people today, but ensuring we leave a legacy we can be proud of for the generations to follow.’
Recognising that ‘doing business’ with the Chinese evokes highly emotive and strong arguments for and against, I believe it is naive to dismiss the potential presented. China is a growing superpower and burying our heads in the sand will be to our detriment. We need to grow understanding and build strong relationships to help ensure any developments in the Far North are appropriate and sustainable. No matter the investor.
The trip to China has given me great insight. I have returned more learned. And recognising the real opportunities, I have also quickly come to the conclusion that we need to be very smart and very clear on the investment we are looking for. We need to clearly articulate where foreign investment can take place and what form this might be in. We need to be clear about what development we want to encourage and what we clearly don’t. This is a district conversation.
As we know, affordability is a real issue here in the Far North and a growing one. We do need to think outside the box and we do need to attract investment. There is real opportunity out of China. However, we need that big plan. A clear, strategic long-term plan that is owned by the people.
One of the things you have to truly admire about the Chinese is their long term-vision, that is clearly articulated. They know where they want to go. And we in turn must be clear on where we want to go, at a district and national level.
We spent some time with Tus-Holdings, the Council’s Memorandum of Intent partner, a subsidiary of Tsinghua University, the most prestigious in China. All the conversations were high level and included an introduction to some of the activities their companies undertake. One of the activities was an incubator business programme for recent graduates.
The second part of our journey was hosted by Government leaders. This saw a half-day presentation to business leaders and sowing seeds around commercial opportunities. Being only the first visit since the signing, there was no detailed discussion around the process moving forward and no agreements were signed by our Council. It was a trip focused on growing understanding and building relationships.
I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity. We were treated with great respect and their hospitality was second to none. I now hold stronger insights, which I intend to grow. This can only assist me in better serving a district I love. It is, and always has been, my desire to see the Far North flourish, to look after our people and our place for now and future generations.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa
Greetings once, greetings twice, greetings thrice to all that have gathered here today.
It is a great honour to be here today. My colleagues and I feel very humbled.
I bring you the warmest greetings today from our Mayor John Carter, who sends his sincere apologies.
I want to firstly say a massive thank you – kia ora! This is truly an auspicious occasion!
A very special thank you to Mr Liang for his most generous hosting and support. We are truly grateful.
I want to acknowledge the deep and long history that the people of New Zealand have with the people of this amazing country, China.
I love New Zealand and am completely in love with our Far North district. It is my home and a truly magical place. One that we are very proud of and cherish greatly.
We have a beautiful, strong and generous people and a wonderful backyard that we like to call ‘our place’.
The Far North is located right at the top of New Zealand. With 7,324 km2 of land area, we are one of the biggest districts in the North Island. We boast a sub-tropical climate, with our seasons being the opposite to yours. Our summer daytime maximum temperatures ranging from 22 up to 30 degrees. We average around 2,000 sunshine hours annually.
We have approximately 42 communities and around 62,000 residents. Almost 50% identify with Maori heritage.
Our key industries currently are mainly primary (such as forestry, horticulture and agriculture). We also have a very buoyant tourism industry, with many people coming to enjoy our beautiful, unspoilt surrounds.
We recognise the immense importance of education and supporting our young people to be well equipped for an ever changing tomorrow.
Our culture and our history is of significant importance and is something we celebrate and cherish greatly.
We have a vision for the Far North, which is He Whenua Rangatira – A district of sustainable prosperity and well-being.
We have a clear purpose. Our strategic intent is to create:
We recognise that to achieve success, we must work together, for a better tomorrow. Our focus is not only on improving the life styles of our people today but ensuring we leave a legacy we can be proud of for the generations to follow.
We view wealth and prosperity holistically i.e. healthy minds, healthy hearts, healthy spirit, healthy environment.
We recognise the importance of building mutually strong relationships, ones built on integrity, respect and openness.
We acknowledge that there must be a high level of trust - that our interactions must be undertaken with complete transparency and wisdom.
Our district has amazing potential. We are committed to serving to the best of our abilities.
Helping build a prosperous future for our people, while ensuring we look after our incredible environment for today and future generations.
I finish in once again, saying kia ora - thank you. Thank you for the time. Thank you for welcoming us into your ‘place’ and making us feel so welcome.
We are deeply appreciative and grateful.