A new year brings many different things for the people of Northland but for local elected representatives, 2019 will also bring a local body election.
We thought we'd gauge the thoughts of Northland councillors and give you, the voters and the ratepayers, chance to hear from them.
The Northern Advocate asked all 42 elected councillors and mayors across Northland's four councils - Northland Regional Council, Whangārei District Council, Kaipara District Council and Far North District Council - the same three questions.
Those questions were:
1. What are you most proud of achieving in this term?
2. Will you be standing again in 2019?
3. What would you like to see happen in your district (or region) in the future?
Councillors and mayors were given two weeks to respond, via email, to the questions. In total, 29, or almost 70 per cent, replied with their answers.
We're publishing those responses in a series of stories. We'll also be pointing out those who didn't respond.
Nominations for the 2019 local elections open on July 19 and close on August 16.
Voting documents will be delivered to houses between September 20 and 25. Votes must be in by midday on October 12 and preliminary results will be expected shortly after.
Today we're running the responses from the Far North District Council. The council is made up of nine councillors, plus Mayor John Carter. Councillors Ann Court, Dave Hookway, Colin (Toss) Kitchen, Sally Macauley, Mate Radich and John Vujcich did not respond.
John Carter, Mayor
1. The further progress we have made on improving infrastructure in the District. We completed a new sewerage network for Kerikeri and started construction of a new sewage treatment plant that will support growth and reduce the town's reliance on septic tanks. We also completed the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, a project which had stalled before I became Mayor in 2013. The cycle trail is already bringing people to the district and creating employment opportunities in some of our poorest towns. Other achievements on behalf of ratepayers include securing additional government subsidies for roading and letting new maintenance contracts that will improve the resilience and safety of our roads. I am also proud of the investment our commercial company Far North Holdings Ltd has made in our tourism infrastructure, by securing significant capital funding from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund. Projects include a new terminal building at Bay of Islands Airport, upgrades to wharves at Paihia and Russell, as well as super-yacht pontoon at Opua.
2. I will announce my intentions nearer to the elections, which are nearly a year away.
3. The Far North District Council has a 10-year plan that addresses growth opportunities, as well as historic infrastructure gaps. However, this plan alone won't deliver the prosperity the district is seeking. I would like to see more collaboration and co-operation between local government, central government, Iwi, communities and the business sector. We face significant challenges, including the affordability of infrastructure, poor housing and climate change. Our natural resources, people and proximity to Auckland also present great social and economic opportunities. We will address these challenges and opportunities most effectively if we align our strategies and work together towards a common goal.
Tania McInnes, Deputy Mayor, Bay of Islands-Whangaroa
1. I am most proud (and humbled) to be in a position where I can support, uplift and encourage our communities, particularly the many amazing people within them that strive everyday to give back and make a proactive difference. It really is a privilege and an honour. There are so many good things happening, which sometimes we can forget in among the many challenges we face. I believe in the strength of the human spirit and fully recognise that together, united, their is real hope in seeing all areas within our district flourish.
2. At this stage, yes.
3. I'm really excited by the development of our Sustainable District Strategy, which is currently being worked on. This will be an overarching strategy for the district that will set direction, in partnership with our communities, of where we want to be in the future. It is about getting smart, knowing where we want to go and what we want to do (and what we don't). It's about leaving a legacy we can be proud of (and there is work to do!) It's about developing a road map for informed decision making and encouraging unity and togetherness. Ultimately it's about seizing our potential and owning our destiny.
Felicity Foy, Te Hiku
1. For the new motion I moved for the Long-Term Plan (LTP) that achieved $1 million of seal extensions for our local roads, and having new seal extensions for many areas that have not had seal for more than 10 years - e.g. Okahu Rd and Fairburn Rd.
For the variation to the recommended motion that I moved in the LTP, to achieve a proper fix to the Kaitaia sewage system, to reduce harm from the Kaitaia sewage system to the environment and to reduce stormwater intrusion into the sewage system.
For FNDC now having an asset manager for stormwater and also commencing a strategy to improve stormwater. FNDC has never had an asset manager for stormwater or a dedicated asset manager to manage the condition of stormwater assets and improve them in a strategic way.
For the grants to Waiharara Hall and the Houhora Big Game Fishing Club to repair and re-instate their parking and manoeuvring areas. These are both great community facilities, that have many volunteers who provide so much good to our community.
2. Yes. I will stand again.
3. I would love to see more roads sealed. We also need better road maintenance and improved drainage for our metal roads.
We need to improve infrastructure, and have more efficient financial planning, and planning of how we use and spend funds on open spaces and civic buildings.
We need a full review of how we rate and also how we depreciate our assets. We need to make more efficient use of ratepayer funds on projects that are aimed for future generations to use, and also projects that attract people to want to live in the Far North.
Kelly Stratford, Bay of Islands - Whangaroa
1. Having been elected in the byelection in time for the Long-Term Plan deliberations, I am proud I attended many engagement meetings and all the hearings and read all the submissions made by groups and individual members of our communities. The insight this provided me, as well as the previous governance experience I have and great support placed me in good stead for deliberations. My tenacity and courage to move amendments that reflected what the communities told us they wanted, and have been asking for, for years. Things like the rating review and greater delegation to the community boards, empowering our communities.
2. I will be seeking re-election as your councillor in 2019 because I am committed to guiding the direction of the council for the needs of our communities across the district.
3. Fair and appropriate rates, sustainable wastewater treatment plants, adequate drinking water, more effective stormwater management and that the council and businesses lead the way with waste minimisation, making environment friendly choices on packaging and supplies.