Kaipara is back in business after rising from the ashes and there's much more to be done, says re-elected mayor Jason Smith.

Three decades since the inaugural meeting of the Kaipara District Council in 1989, Smith and his elected councillors were sworn into office today in the presence of iwi and hapu representatives from across the district.

Also present was re-elected Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai and her deputy Greg Innes.

After a powhiri, KDC chief executive Louise Miller officially opened the inaugural meeting and invited Smith to make his statutory declaration and receive the mayoral chain.

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Powhiri and Inaugural Meeting of the Kaipara District Council Dargaville

The mayor then called councillors-elect forward to be sworn in.

In his inaugural address for the triennium, Smith reflected on the 30 years of the good, not so good, and bad times of the district while highlighting issues such as debt level, climate change, and population increase.

"Kaipara's back in business. Where once its debt levels were truly horrible, after a time of austerity, council debt is now significantly reduced and Kaipara finds itself safely in the middle of the pack of councils for debt per capita – ranked something like number 35 of 67 territorial councils across New Zealand."

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Together with Miller and a good blend of new and experienced councillors, Smith said Kaipara was in good hands.

KDC, he said, was making real progress on its partnership with its key iwi partners from Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Te Kuihi, Te Parawhau and Ngati Whatua that attended the powhiri preceding the swearing in today.

Smith said everyone was starting to work out that Kaipara was an attractive place to be, with the fastest-growing population in the North Island in the past six years at 20.6 per cent.

"This is a quiet revolution bringing new citizens, new residents, new energy, investments and ideas to this fertile place. As a council we'll be working hard to shape the future of the Kaipara which is already growing fast, particularly in the east."

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Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith and his councillors during the powhiri and swearing-in ceremony. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith and his councillors during the powhiri and swearing-in ceremony. Photo / Michael Cunningham

He said far-away problems of climate change, sea level rise and global warming needed to be tackled.

"I reckon we should just get on with the job of being Climate-smart Kaipara. I'll repeat that – Climate-smart Kaipara, which means that we're a place that's using the best smart technologies and innovations combined with local common sense to make our way forward.

"If we've done our job right, 30 years from now, when there's a future celebration of a future Climate-smart Kaipara council here, I reckon they'll be damned grateful for what we started in 2019."