Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 13 December 2018

Staying safe this summer

I cannot believe 2018 is almost over. We've had a big year in the Far North with several significant new projects funded, and others nearing completion. This year will be seen as a significant for our district. We have a new focus on growth and we are already seeing the benefits of this with more to come.

Before tackling the challenges of 2019, I aim to relax with friends and family. Like we do most years, we'll go to the beach, collect shellfish, go fishing, swim, and end the day like so many other Kiwi families gathered around the barbeque. I've said it before, you just can't beat summer in the Far North. There's no other place like it, and each year thousands of visitors from both New Zealand and overseas make their way north to share what we have. That brings fresh challenges to our district and I urge you all to be extra careful when travelling or enjoying our wonderful coastline.

Spending time in or on the water is a treasured pastime for most of us. This summer Surf Lifesaving Northern Region volunteers will again patrol beaches from Raglan to the Far North. We are lucky to have them. Last year they performed 427 rescues and assisted 128,000 people. It is a remarkable record, but these volunteers cannot patrol all of our beaches. To help, I will work with Surf Lifesaving Northern Region to extend a Far North community water safety initiative launched last February. Operation Flotation installed flotation devices at Taipa, Cable Bay, and Cooper's Beach. These are easily accessible in wooden stands to help beachgoers prevent tragic deaths like that of 54-year-old Wairongoa Renata, who drowned when attempting to rescue children caught in a rip at Cable Bay.

This month the Police launched a nationwide summer road safety campaign focusing on the four main contributors to road injuries and deaths: not wearing seatbelts; driving too fast for the conditions; driving drunk, drugged or tired; and being distracted by cell phones or other factors. If you are behind the wheel this holiday season, please be patient. Don't take unnecessary risks and remember it's better to arrive a few minutes late than not at all. Take care of yourselves, your whanau and the other drivers sharing our roads so we can all enjoy a well-deserved break.

This is my final column for 2018, but before I go I want to thank the Council staff and contractors who will be extra busy over the holiday season. They will be visiting holiday hot spots, collecting rubbish and cleaning public toilets. They ensure drinking water keeps flowing and other vital services continue to run. They do a fantastic job every summer.

On that note, have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year with whanau and friends. Look after each other and I wish you a great Far North summer.



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