Western Bay of Plenty District Council: Our people are at the heart of our district

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As I prepare to hand over the chains to the incoming Mayor on October 8, I want to reflect on what I will take away from the 14 years I have been on Council.

Yes, Council will always be a balance of contention, controversy, compromise and co-operation, but my one principle has been to make the best decision that will deliver the best outcome for our people.

We have demonstrated how Council can work with its communities to fulfil their dreams and aspirations and that is testament to the changes we have made towards community led planning.

It’s what sets us apart here at Western Bay. It shows that the whole of Council, staff and councillors, working constructively together to meet the needs of their people, makes a real difference.

The role of mayor has been an unparalleled opportunity for Carole and I to witness firsthand the amazing diversity we have across our District and understand the real history and heritage that makes our District so unique.

I’ve also learnt a lot about myself. Both my virtues and my limitations. It hasn’t been easy to do this with a District that has exploded from 42,075 in 2009 to 58,000, an increase of 37.8 percent, today – making our District one of the fastest growing provincial councils in New Zealand.

But I take pride, with the support of councillors and staff over the years, in how we connect and kōrero with our community in innovative ways to meet the many and varied needs.

Take the return of Panepane Purakau back to the tangata whenua of Matakana Island. That is a moment I will never forget and it showed with goodwill and respect we can correct mistakes of the past.

This eight-year hīkoi with tangata whenua, saw the return of ownership of the eastern end of Matakana Island, commonly known as Panepane Purakau to its rightful owners. The return was supported by a record 7377 pieces of feedback (the majority in support) showing this was the right thing to do.

Our District is widespread with many small communities, just like the mana whenua/ ahi kaa of Matakana Island, each with their own aspirations and I have tried at every opportunity to ensure that community led planning has been at the core of our decisions.

Sometimes, this creates a natural tension between the community’s expectation that we will meet their aspirations and their willingness to pay for to bring those aspirations to life.

No matter what, I thank the community for its input to ensure we have strong, connected and resilient neighbourhoods and communities where all our people thrive.

Continue the fantastic mahi as it is only by working together that we can focus on what is best for future generations.

Nga mihi nui

0800 926 732
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