The Hawke's Bay Regional Council and its four constituent local authorities have broken new ground with a meeting of all elected representatives' priorities throughout the region.
The joint regional workshop on Wednesday was attended by the mayors of Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay, councillors and chief executive officers, and ended with a plan to make it an annual conference.
It's believed to have been the first time such a workshop has been organised for all elected members. There are other meetings such as the Mayoral Leaders Forums, local government gathering from "Region 3" across the North Island from Hawke's Bay to Taranaki and other meetings of council representatives.
Wednesday's forum discussed the wider issues of the region, including coastal hazards, transport, housing and three waters.
Central Hawke's Bay Mayor and Mayoral Leaders Forum chairwoman Alex Walker - recently also made a member of the Local Government New Zealand national council and chairwoman of its Rural Councils Sector - said the Bay's leaders were very keen for everyone to understand how they were working together.
She said there had been "a lot of healing" since the local government amalgamation debate, in which a merger plan was rejected at a public referendum in 2015.
"A joint regional workshop like this one would never have been held three years ago, or even six years ago," Walker said.
"Today is about sharing how we are working together on the core issues and to leave with a common view on what regional collaboration looks like."
Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise said the amalgamation debate was divisive but the community had moved on and people were now expecting them to work together.
"Our community, and especially our younger people, are looking to us to pull together and work together to look at solutions for the major issues in front of us," she said.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said: "This is an incredibly exciting day to show how our strong region partnerships can help address our challenges."
The regional council's chairman, Rex Graham, said leaders were doing their best to face major challenges, and added: "We need to address issues together if we are going to move forward as a prosperous region in harmony with our environment."
The plan was also supported by the most-travelled of the mayors, Wairoa's Craig Little, who encouraged all elected members to make the most of this regional collaboration.
"We have a wonderful group of mayors and a Chair who are working well together to make sure the whole region is benefiting."
Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis told Hawke's Bay Today she is hoping to be kept in touch on anything that may impact on her area.
The Tararua District is a part of Manawatu-Wanganui's Horizons Regional Council, linked by the meandering Manawatu River, but many in the Dannevirke area regard their link as being with Hawke's Bay, via State Highway 2.
The highway links through the district to SH3 — the closed Manawatu Gorge road, the current Saddle Rd alternative and proposed permanent new route Te Ahua a Turanga (the Manawatu Tararua highway). Tararua District is also uniquely on the boundaries of three regional council areas — Manawatu-Wanganui, Hawke's Bay, and Greater Wellington.
"Normally the other mayors will keep me in the loop," Collis said.
"With anything that flows through to Hawke's Bay we are the connecting district, so anything that does impact the Tararua District we must look at."