Sitting here watching the sun rise in one of my favourite spaces – Mahinepua. The crazy reds and oranges as it reaches up to the morning sky and skips out over the water. Kisses my face and opens my heart to a new day, the magic of life. Lifting my spirit, it reminds me of how incredible Aotearoa still is and how much I want to ensure it stays this way.
We have work to do.
I have just begun reading ‘Doughnut Economics’, Kate Raworth the author. It has already got my mind pushing its boundaries around how we can achieve better outcomes for our district. And a quote by Buckminster Fuller grabs my attention. ‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’
This comes on the back of some really insightful conversations I have had over the last month, attending different workshops and community gatherings. One such conversation was with a gentleman from Queenstown who was full of praise and potential for the Far North. He tells me we need to manage our development and ensure we look after our backyard, growing in a way that is sustainable and prepares us for times to come. This will require some brave conversations.
In December 2017, Treasury released the ‘Living Standards Framework’. Our current Government is looking at a ‘well-being’ budget in 2019. There will be some challenges in how this is successfully achieved. However, it offers a fresh approach to thinking about how we measure prosperity. It has long been argued that GDP does not provide a balanced definition of success. I recently read that many economists concede that the GDP measure is a poor proxy for prosperity. GDP tells us little about how prosperity is distributed across groups in the population; and not much about environment degradation that may have occurred as collateral damage in achieving the stated GDP.
The Far North is still a very beautiful place. But we should not fool ourselves that it will remain so if we sit back and allow things to just happen. What is clearly required is some big decisions made collaboratively around who we are and where we want to go. Once these decisions are made, we need to stick to them and not be sucked in by the quick buck. Cutting through what’s in it for me and focusing on what’s in it for us. Our legacy for those that will follow.
The Far North District Council is currently developing a Sustainable District Strategy. This is a big picture ideal of where we want to go, sitting under our vision He Whenua Rangatira: A District of Sustainable Prosperity and Well-being. It is going to provoke some thinking and encourage debate. It will hopefully challenge some of our outdated approaches and look for more viable ways that support a better tomorrow for our people and our place. Amen to that.