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 11 December 2014
A year of progress
As a Council, we are about to complete what could best be described as an interesting and challenging year. We have made real progress in restructuring the organisation and rebuilding resources to better serve the community. From my perspective, we are now served by the best Chief Executive in the country who is leading a team of very capable and responsible departmental managers. We have a team of unified and focused elected members. Resources are slowly being rebuilt and staff across the board have generally responded well to the challenge of becoming a more customer-focused, high-performance organisation.
Yes, there are areas which we still need to address in terms of the general structure and there will always be fine-tuning required to maintain the whole organisation as a cost-effective and efficient operation. But to have reached this level of achievement in one year has been no mean feat. I'm proud of the commitment which has been shown by the whole team. The progress we have made is even more remarkable when you consider the uncertainty in some areas. We are still awaiting the outcome of the Local Government Commission's review of local government in Northland, as well as the results of the Council-initiated Serious Fraud Office investigation. I don't have any definitive information about the timing of these two reports. However, with the Wellington re-organisation proposal now released, it is possible an announcement about the Northland proposal will be next. Similarly the SFO investigation outcomes should not be too far way.
Financially, we are back on a solid footing with public debt currently down by close to $20 million on the June 2013 level of $89.6 million. This is going to be critical as we move into 2015 and, through the Long Term Plan process, begin to closely examine what needs to be achieved over the next 10 years in terms of rebuilding infrastructure. We are coming to final decision time on a number of major projects such as the Kerikeri and Kaitaia wastewater schemes and a number of less expensive but very necessary improvements to water supplies at Te Kao, Rawene and Opononi. We are also looking at a variety of projects to rebuild the unsealed roading network and to develop our sports and recreation facilities.
All these proposals will be laid out in our Long Term Plan which goes out to public consultation early next year. This consultation programme is a real opportunity to rebuild the relationships we have with the communities we serve. Unless we work together the challenges which are coming up next year and over the next decade may prove to be insurmountable. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for the support it has shown the council over the last year and to wish everybody good health and a happy festive season.