Open, respectful discussion is healthy

Josh Wharehinga

COLUMN

There are no council meetings this week, however we do have a Titirangi walk, a Coast trip and a long-term plan to release.

On Sunday I attended the honorary advisers dinner for the Asia NZ Foundation at Government House. I had the chance to get in the ear of the chairman of the honorary advisers, Rt Hon Winston Peters. I impressed upon him that our critical priority is spending on our roads. He, of course, took it in his stride, smiled, acknowledged the message then asked me to pass on his best to our Mayor, councillors and our region.

On Tuesday I will meet with the Hon Kelvin Davis. Like with Winston, I hope to find an opportunity to emphasise to Minister Davis — who is also the Minister for Tourism — our three main infrastructure priorities and their link to tourism, reinforce that we are ready to collaborate as per our Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan, and give a heads-up that GDC’s proposals are coming through next week.

My brief encounters alone won’t do much in isolation, but if our collective message is consistent and constant then it increases our chances of something landing.

I feel honoured that I’m asked to participate in these forums, because it gives me the ability, even if it’s briefly, to put our matters in front of decision-makers. The fact I get to do this for us without spending any ratepayer dollars makes it even sweeter.

We’re quite active councillors, and while we can’t see everything all the time, we do try to see everything at least some of the time. So some of us are taking a walk around Titirangi to check out the heritage sites over the maunga on Monday. On Thursday the entire council is taking a trip to Tauwhareparae farms and the Waikanae campgrounds. Visiting Tauwhareparae gives us a good opportunity to view the Coast roads. It is always good for us to collectively experience those roads.

This week we will also be releasing the draft long-term plan. For the uninitiated, the long-term plan determines many things over the next 10 years; like spending for our region, policy direction and priority setting. If you have ideas about what we should be prioritising in our plan then please submit to the draft LTP consultation process. Come and discuss your priorities.

Discussion is important. It’s the only way we know our differing perspectives. This has been highlighted recently by the discussions around the naming of our area and the Endeavour replicas.

Since my Endeavour comments I have only had one person specifically seek me out to comment to me directly. And that conversation was great. I won’t speak on his behalf, however I did share with him — and I still hold to this fact now — that we can’t be adding all bits and pieces into our budget. It’s about the precedent we set when we start funding things, no matter how small, outside of our current budgets. If we make allowance for one thing, then we allow the same, in principle, for every other thing. And we can’t weather that right now. That’s my primary concern.

Not everyone will agree with that, and that’s OK. Honest, open and respectful discussion is what makes a healthy democracy, despite disagreeing.

One thing you can be sure of is that while we might have differences, I’ll work hard for our region and take every opportunity I can get to improve our lot for our Tairawhiti region.

I hope you have a great week.

As always, very proud to serve you, Turanganui a Kiwa.

There are no council meetings this week, however we do have a Titirangi walk, a Coast trip and a long-term plan to release.

On Sunday I attended the honorary advisers dinner for the Asia NZ Foundation at Government House. I had the chance to get in the ear of the chairman of the honorary advisers, Rt Hon Winston Peters. I impressed upon him that our critical priority is spending on our roads. He, of course, took it in his stride, smiled, acknowledged the message then asked me to pass on his best to our Mayor, councillors and our region.

On Tuesday I will meet with the Hon Kelvin Davis. Like with Winston, I hope to find an opportunity to emphasise to Minister Davis — who is also the Minister for Tourism — our three main infrastructure priorities and their link to tourism, reinforce that we are ready to collaborate as per our Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan, and give a heads-up that GDC’s proposals are coming through next week.

My brief encounters alone won’t do much in isolation, but if our collective message is consistent and constant then it increases our chances of something landing.

I feel honoured that I’m asked to participate in these forums, because it gives me the ability, even if it’s briefly, to put our matters in front of decision-makers. The fact I get to do this for us without spending any ratepayer dollars makes it even sweeter.

We’re quite active councillors, and while we can’t see everything all the time, we do try to see everything at least some of the time. So some of us are taking a walk around Titirangi to check out the heritage sites over the maunga on Monday. On Thursday the entire council is taking a trip to Tauwhareparae farms and the Waikanae campgrounds. Visiting Tauwhareparae gives us a good opportunity to view the Coast roads. It is always good for us to collectively experience those roads.

This week we will also be releasing the draft long-term plan. For the uninitiated, the long-term plan determines many things over the next 10 years; like spending for our region, policy direction and priority setting. If you have ideas about what we should be prioritising in our plan then please submit to the draft LTP consultation process. Come and discuss your priorities.

Discussion is important. It’s the only way we know our differing perspectives. This has been highlighted recently by the discussions around the naming of our area and the Endeavour replicas.

Since my Endeavour comments I have only had one person specifically seek me out to comment to me directly. And that conversation was great. I won’t speak on his behalf, however I did share with him — and I still hold to this fact now — that we can’t be adding all bits and pieces into our budget. It’s about the precedent we set when we start funding things, no matter how small, outside of our current budgets. If we make allowance for one thing, then we allow the same, in principle, for every other thing. And we can’t weather that right now. That’s my primary concern.

Not everyone will agree with that, and that’s OK. Honest, open and respectful discussion is what makes a healthy democracy, despite disagreeing.

One thing you can be sure of is that while we might have differences, I’ll work hard for our region and take every opportunity I can get to improve our lot for our Tairawhiti region.

I hope you have a great week.

As always, very proud to serve you, Turanganui a Kiwa.

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