Welcome to 2022! I trust you all managed to have a relaxing and refreshing festive break after a very different year that we can all place behind us; and that the batteries are recharged for the year ahead.
As is tradition, to mark the start of the political year, last week I attended the away caucus in New Plymouth. Held at the start of every year, it's a chance for all our Labour MPs to get together and firm up our plans for the year.
The start of 2022 has seen a continual focus on those eligible receiving their booster, which is freely available for those who had their second dose at least four months ago.
That timeframe will tick over for me next week, so I will be getting mine as soon as I'm able to. From last week, children aged 5-11 years can also receive their Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccination continues to be a key focus in protecting our whānau and community and if you are yet to receive yours – it's never too late.
The start of the new year also gives me an opportunity to thank our dedicated vaccination workforce who continued to work hard over the festive break to keep us all safe.
Alongside them, I want to thank the police, emergency responders and other organisations that have also worked hard over the break – your professionalism and dedication are very much valued by us all.
Parliament will resume after Waitangi weekend. This year I will continue to focus on my work as a member of the Health and Environment Select Committees.
Last year I was fortunate to have my member's bill drawn from the ballot.
This bill will require the introduction of a layer of public transparency for local government.
It is currently before a select committee, and I look forward to progressing this further once the public submissions have been heard.
A bill of local interest relating to the vacant council land at Huia Reserve is before the Environment Select Committee.
This bill proposes to lift the reserve status of the land on the corner of Park Rd and Fitzherbert Ave so it could be made available for development if the council chooses.
Submissions close on February 18, and if you need any further information please contact my office for assistance.
My electorate office has reopened for the year for constituents who wish to get in touch.
This year I will continue to host regular events. Being accessible as your local MP continues to be a strong motivator, and my upcoming events include my regular stint at the Albert Street Market; Coffee and Politics on Thursday evenings once a month beginning in March; and my regular Palmy Pop-up sessions.
These sessions have proved popular so I will continue to hold them in different suburbs during the year, to meet with my constituents. I look forward to seeing you at an event soon.
A new year always brings new opportunities and, after 2021, this new year is very welcome. Kia manuia - that's the Cook Island way of saying good luck.
• Tangi Utikere is the MP for Palmerston North.