So far, 2021 has been about learning from the decisions we made as a council last year, and how they have impacted our city.
Right now, we are close to signing off our 10-Year Plan – the council's spending plan for the next decade.
The stakes are high. We need to consider our wastewater system (Nature Calls), climate action, historical underinvestment in infrastructure, housing and the four wellbeings – the cultural, economic, environmental and social health of our community.
We also have to balance the costs because what we decide will have a big impact on rates and city debt levels.
With these things in mind, we have read through more than 700 submissions.
At the public hearings, we listened to people speak passionately about the things our community cares about.
It's been interesting and revealing. Our community is diverse, with more than 140 different cultures making Palmy their home.
Looking at these submissions, we know that what is important to some people might not be important to others, and that's great.
Different perspectives bring fresh ideas, which underlines just how important it is to have a diverse group of decision-makers representing our community.
This diversity will increase with our recent decision to establish Māori wards, another important decision the council has made this year.
I am proud to be part of a council that is showing leadership in our partnership with iwi and has aspirations for increasing Māori participation.
It is important to reduce barriers so all members of our community can contribute to our collective wellbeing.
I bring to the table lived experiences of homelessness, poverty, and being supported by women's refuge.
I've been a business owner, manager of a charity, and a volunteer in many organisations. I am a woman under 40, a parent of primary, intermediate and high school children, the only Pasifika voice on the council, and aware that being a councillor is a massive privilege and a huge responsibility.
There is a Samoan saying, "O le ala I le pule o le tautua – the pathway to leadership is through service".
As I think about our 10-Year Plan, I'm thinking about who it exists to serve – that's you and your mokopuna.
It's our community today, and their community 100 years from now. So, keep telling us what you want, and we'll keep trying to make it happen.
• Renee Dingwall is a Palmerston North City Councillor.