A few months ago, Dawn Leach got a dairy farming job through the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs, now she has had the opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister about it during her visit to Central Hawke's Bay on Thursday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spent the day on a tour of Central Hawke's Bay to hear about the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs, the Tukituki Trails extension in Waipukurau and meeting Central Hawke's Bay District Council staff in Waipawa.
The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs Community Recovery Programme is a partnership with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and 23 rural councils.
Leach started in dairy farming a few months ago when her family members saw the mobile employment hub around and suggested she check it out.
She had been shearing but the job had slowed down due to Covid-19 and she found herself with not enough hours and needing something more secure.
Ardern said she had heard from ministers who have been in Central Hawke's Bay and seen the "great" work done in partnership with the council and wanted to see it herself.
CHB mayor Alex Walker said it was great for the Prime Minister to experience "the magic that can happen in the community" and the role of local government.
She spoke with the Prime Minister about the impact of the council's employment work on the district's people and the power that the local knowledge and local government connections can bring.
"Seeing initiatives like the mayor's taskforce on the ground today helps show that local government can be a trusted partner that can work at pace, at a community level to deliver outcomes."
Walker said there are opportunities to advance the partnership between Government and local councils in areas such as the housing crisis.
She said there has been positive work at a national level between Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) and Ministry of Housing, and conversations happening now across the regions "are a lot more proactive".
But when asked if it was as proactive and fast-moving as she would like it to be she said, "no, because we've still got people without anywhere to live".
When asked what initiatives Ardern would support to help CHB thrive and if commuter rail was an option, the Prime Minister said projects that the council has been advocating for " some time" that required "a bit more support behind [them]" were ones that the Government has been looking at.
Provincial Growth Funding enabled projects such as the Tukituki trail extension, which employed 12 locals.
"We often are looking for those projects that actually already have good support, quite a bit of work behind them but just need that extra little nudge to get them over the line."