As I reflect on our council's achievements during my first year as mayor, I am excited about the great progress we have made over the past 12 months.

We are determined to keep that momentum going throughout the coming year.

Supplying safe drinking water to our people is our number one priority and has focused a large section of our resources.

Water is our region's life blood. Water quality and quantity is paramount to our environmental and economic wellbeing. I am pleased to see the 4.8km water pipe connecting Hastings to Havelock North is almost complete.

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We are moving just as quickly with the installing of new water treatment facilities in Te Awanga, Haumoana, Clifton, Waipatu, Whakatu, Clive, Waimarama, Waipatiki and Whirinaki.

Thank you for your patience while these major works are being completed.

As regional leaders this year we are undertaking a "Three Waters Review" to look at the management and the delivery of drinking water from the source to the tap, as well as the environmental effects wastewater and stormwater run off has on our communities and our environment.

After five years of planning, and nearly two years' construction, the Whakatu Arterial Link brings more efficient and productive travel and better access to our district.

It's a huge milestone — this is Hawke's Bay's largest roading project since the Hastings-Napier Expressway was built in 2002.

May I personally recognise the role mana whenua has played in the realisation of this project, especially the communities of Ruahapia, Waipatu, Kohupatiki and Whakatu. This new road cost $24 million; it is a wonderful example of how positive collaboration between mana whenua, government and council can culminate in a great regional asset. We are all looking forward to celebrating its opening later in the month.

Housing for our people continues to be a major challenge both here and throughout New Zealand; but council, community agencies, iwi and the Government are all working together to resolve this issue.

Throughout last year residential sections have been developed in Lyndhurst, Northwood and Arataki.

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Construction of stage one of the new Flaxmere Waingakau Village housing project will begin early this year. This is an exciting co-housing project developed by Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga. We are also working with Housing NZ to build 44 new quality homes in Raureka which begins this year.

Our wonderful city centre has begun to change shape. Redevelopment continues this year on various sites.

The construction of the new Eastern Police headquarters, Royston Hospital, the new Hastings Health Centre and the redevelopment of the former HB Today site equates to an investment of approximately $500m into our city centre, which in turn brings increased employment opportunities for our people.

Just as exciting is the recently-opened first urban laneway in Heretaunga St West, a special space that is part of a larger plan to enhance the vibrancy of the city centre.

This year you will see many more city centre improvements. We are extremely grateful to our developers and business community for their high level of investment and confidence in our city.

To further Hastings' reputation as a destination for families, council will hear our community's views around enhancing our beautiful parks and recreation spaces. Plans include improved seating and picnic facilities, more toilets, better pathways and playgrounds.

We're also so proud of the strengthening of the Opera House and Municipal Building.

These much-loved heritage buildings are being protected for the next 100 years. With our community's vision for a performing arts precinct we will create a nationally-recognised performing arts hub in Hastings.

After a long journey we are delighted that our beloved Opera House and Plaza will be opened later this year.

So much is happening — our Hastings District is rocking! We have a beautiful and truly unique community comprised of exceptional people, and with your support together we will continue to make a difference.

- Sandra Hazlehurst is mayor of Hastings District Council