Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.
JOHN CARTER - MAYOR OF THE FAR NORTH DISTRICT OF NEW ZEALAND
Moving forward together
Thursday 7 July 2016
What we have achieved together
People in the Far North will get an opportunity to elect a new Mayor and Council in three months, so it is timely to look back on what elected members and staff have collectively achieved for residents and ratepayers over the last three years. We have bought land for a new Kerikeri Wastewater Treatment Plant and expect to begin work on this project - one of the largest the Council has undertaken - in October.
We are also addressing overflow issues at Kaitaia's ageing wastewater system and aim to have developed an engineering solution to this historic problem before the end of the year. We secured a Ministry of Health subsidy to upgrade our untreated water supply at Omanaia and are helping Te Kao and Opononi-Omapere communities investigate affordable ways of improving their water supplies.
In 2014, we suffered one of the worst storms to hit the Far North in years. Yet we completed emergency repairs to roads ahead of schedule and we are now working on a proposal to strengthen roads heavily used by logging trucks. We also established, with other Northland councils, a Northland Transportation Alliance which is expected to save $18 million over 10 years.
It is our intention to reinvest this money back into Northland's roading network, so this alliance represents a big step forward in terms of how we deliver local government services. Northland councils also persuaded the New Zealand Transport Agency to designate Mangakahia Road as a state highway and inland freight route. This will free up ratepayer money previously used to maintain this road and also result in a higher level of maintenance.
Collaborating with other Northland councils to improve local government services has been a priority for this Council. There is now an unprecedented level of cooperation between the councils and a commitment to a strategic plan which aims to lift Northland's social, economic and environmental performance. We also facilitated the development of a District vision to guide decision-making and priority setting across the Far North and contributed to a Northland Economic Action Plan which promises to be a game-changer for the region's economy.
Improving relations with Maori and helping them to achieve their goals has also been a big focus for us. We have invested in extra staff to help hapu develop strategic plans and signed partnership agreements with Te Runanga o Te Rarawa and Te Runanga o Ngati Hine. We facilitated the formation of a statutory board to manage Te Oneroa a Tohe/Ninety Mile Beach with iwi and we are helping owners of Maori freehold land to unlock the economic potential of their land.
Finally, we have secured landowner agreements and funding for the Twin Coast Cycle Trail - Pou Herenga Tai. We aim to complete the remaining sections of this fantastic recreational amenity, which will attract thousands of visitors to the Far North, before summer. We have done all of these things by working cooperatively with our communities, Maori and other agencies. That is how we will address opportunities and challenges facing the District. That is how we will move forward together.