This very moment is important. We are at a cusp. Our current government is delivering on promises (thank you!) and we are seeing real investment in projects that will be catalysts for positive change. Projects that will grow confidence, encourage other investors but most importantly, celebrate and uplift our communities.
The mid north particularly is currently enjoying some real wins. From Te Hononga in Kawakawa to Manea in the Hokianga, we are seeing some long-held community dreams starting to become a reality. I attended the blessing of the Te Hononga grounds last week. This is a community-led initiative that will provide a real point of difference as the gateway to the Bay of Islands and the wider Far North.
I need to acknowledge the leadership and work of Far North Holdings Ltd. FNHL is a CCTO, a vehicle the Council uses for its commercial activities. It is 100 per cent owned by the Council, thus the ratepayer, and is focused on commercial activities that provide a return (and not just in a money sense) for the district. They are accountable to the Council and work to a Statement of Intent. It is because of the work and credibility of this company that our district has benefited from early investment from the Provincial Growth Fund. I am extremely grateful for this.
Feedback on this fabulous investment has been interesting, from elation to disapproval. With a district of 52 identified communities and extreme living conditions – illegal housing with a long drop to multi-million dollar estates – I am not sure that some people fully appreciate the many challenges the area faces. The investment offered will see work undertaken that would not have happened otherwise without real cost to the ratepayer, and we are already challenged to balance affordability with basic and necessary services.
Timing of these investments puts our current review of the Long Term Plan in clear focus. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of people providing feedback on the draft plan. It is highly valued and does shape the decisions made.
Encouraging prosperity is a multi-string approach. It requires vision and action. It requires leadership and buy-in. It also requires hope, belief and a willingness to work together … in big doses. And this is where our main challenge lies. For without commonality and a desire to see beyond ourselves to a better tomorrow, we will continue to flounder.
In January 2015, I sent an open letter to elected officials across Northland (you can read it on my website). I share these comments once again – but as a call to all leaders, whether formally recognised or not: “What we must seek to do, as all leaders must, is to unite and encourage – to provide hope. To listen, to serve and to make decisions that seek to grow and protect our homeland in the most appropriate way possible. For the decisions we make today will form ripples that will continue to flow in the centuries to come. “