Recently Hastings District Council held our annual plan process (aka annual budget deliberations) whereby over two days we heard submissions from the community, with the third day tasked to deliberate and decide matters.

Projects seeking support ranged from the smaller community initiatives such as the stalwart community of Whakatu who have stood steadfast over the years seeking to secure bus shelters for their children. This year the council helped support them with their aspirations of building a David Trubridge designed bus shelter that the community can be proud of.

At the other end of end of the spectrum were projects requiring millions, such as our water review service and the Community Health and Sports Centre proposal.

There also seemed to be more community halls and clubs that were requiring assistance, whether that was in the form of assistance with maintenance of the ageing buildings or posing to council potential partnership options in terms of ownership. Schools and a church also featured as potential partnerships for council to invest in.

What was apparent to me over this annual plan round is that the funds available elsewhere in the community in many areas are becoming harder for community groups to secure, however I do see some securing wins.

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Take for instance our own council, where during deliberations we took a short break to race across the carpark from Hastings council to the Opera House to attend the announcement by the Prime Minister of the Government granting $4 million financial support to help restore the Opera House. Shortly following was the Government's announcement that it would also support the Te Mata Peak project.

These are good wins - made possible, of course, by the leadership involved (you know who you are) but made possible notably also by persistence and partnership.

This theme of persistence and partnership ran through annual plan proceedings. Some of the most successful were those that have been persistent in their efforts and advocacy over the years and/or those that have formed (or are attempting to form) partnerships with others.

The Community Health and Sports Centre proposal is an example of such partnership proposal whereby, in essence, a raft of heavy hitting community agencies and organisations are being pulled together to make something work for the betterment of us all in the health and fitness arena of Hawkes Bay.

The test for me, as I submitted my thoughts in deliberations, will be ensuring that the services of such partnerships are in fact always able to be accessed by those in our community and not priced out, especially by our most vulnerable who are some of those that the projects foundation is based upon advancing.

Should all these finer details of affordability (in relation to the individual and collective) be worked out, then I support such partnership as being not only beneficial to our region but much needed.

With government and community funding budgets being constrained whilst simultaneously community aspirations and the need for services and offerings remaining high, we need to get more innovative with community partnerships and approaches.
Many of our community halls are becoming dilapidated and our sports clubs are getting tired.

On the flipside we have some strong school assets seeing injections of capital and many strong church buildings. Potential innovative and attractive community partnerships I believe are on the cusp. In fact in this year's annual plan process we did hear from at least a couple of potential school-community hub partnerships as well a potential partnership from the Wesley Church.

Persistence and partnership will be increasingly key in the future. This is true I believe not only of the social space but also our economic development, branding and heart of who we are going forward in our region and beyond.

*Jacoby Poulain is a Hastings district councillor, a board member of the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and is on the EIT Council.