Hawke's Bay's mayors have committed to looking for more opportunities to share services between their councils after this week's overwhelming rejection of amalgamation by the province's voters.
The region's mayors - Craig Little of Wairoa, Bill Dalton of Napier, Lawrence Yule of Hastings and Peter Butler of Central Hawke's Bay, along with Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson - met in Napier yesterday to discuss the way forward for the province.
In a statement after the meeting, the group said there was strong commitment between them to "significantly" build on the work already done with shared services between their councils.
Opportunities to share the delivery of work such as building and roading were being looked at.
The leaders would develop a new work programme for shared services over the next month.
Yesterday's meeting also gave the group a chance to discuss the results of the referendum, which saw 66 per cent of voters say no to amalgamation. In the group, Mr Yule had been the only supporter of amalgamation.
He admitted there was a pretty frank and free discussion at the beginning of the meeting.
"We had a clearing of the air," Napier Mayor Bill Dalton agreed.
"There were a few matters that required to be discussed and we discussed them as gentlemen and moved on. It was as simple as that."
Mr Dalton said those who had opposed amalgamation had always believed shared services were a better option.
"And Lawrence is now fully enthusiastic about that and so we all agreed that we need to build on the work already done."
Mr Yule said he was "really delighted" about the commitment to look at sharing more services, "because as the people who have opposed the amalgamation said, a lot more could be done in shared services. Well, now is our chance to prove that."
"Everybody agreed that we would have to look at roading, water, building - you know, where we actually deliver services rather than just straight procurement of products, and that's a huge issue," he said.
"I am thrilled about it because it is the potential for massive cost savings in there that you can generate, massive cost savings without the amalgamation."
Mr Little said a lot could be achieved in the future for the region.
"I think the biggest misconception out there was the district plan, how we have five," he said.
"Legally you must have five of them so I think we now have to lobby central Government.
"Lawrence is in a good position at present to say let's have one district plan for the whole region."
Mr Butler said one of the ideas that was put to the group was bringing all 48 councillors, the mayors and chairman together to have a group discussion.
"We plan to do that a couple of times a year and have group discussions.
"I think that is a great idea."
The group also plans to meet with the Local Government Commission (LGC) chair Sir Wira Gardiner to discuss the referendum and the role of the commission in the future.
A request for a more formal meeting structure would be made to the Hawke's Bay Intersector Leadership Group, which includes the mayors, Chief Executives, District Health Board, Ngti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, police, local MPs, social agencies and others. A recommendation would also be made to open these meetings to the public.
"We talked about where to from here," he said.
He said they did think the issue of amalgamation was hanging over the heads of the councils.
"It stifled some of the discussions," he said. "So let's get back into it."
Mr Yule added that the group decided they would proceed differently.
"We think actually we could make a big difference," he said.
Mr Butler said while some great ideas were talked about, the challenges of the region would not be met in one week.
"This whole thing is going to take time," he said.
"We have got to get 48 councillors on board with us, we just can't make the decisions ourselves.
"So it is going to take a bit of time and a lot of skill, people skill."
Mr Little said now it was about the mayors and chairman and their councils channelling their energies in the right way.
"We all have the same passion for the region, but we are just doing it in different ways.
"I think it's quite exciting now."
-Yesterday's meeting could have been tense to start with but it had an icebreaker of sorts.
"I'll tell you what the first thing we did was smash a carafe of water," Mr Butler said.
"It was a hell of a big carafe it took three staff, four mayors and a chair to clean it up.
"I tell you the bloody thing exploded, there was splinters of glass all over the table.
"So that took a quarter of an hour cleaning up the broken glass and the four litres of water."
Mr Butler, however, was not so forthcoming with the name of the person who broke it.