I have just returned from attending one of New Zealand's most inspiring events, Festival for the Future, in Wellington.
Described as our country's largest social innovation summit, the festival featured a range of speakers and workshops with themes including sustainability, mental health, education, financial wellbeing, goal-setting (and achieving), and pathways for rangatahi.
It was attended by thousands of young people as well as other mayors involved with Mayor Taskforce For Jobs (MTFJ). This is a network of New Zealand's mayors working together towards a shared vision: all young people under 25 being engaged in appropriate education, training, work or other positive activity in their communities.
One aspect of MTFJ is the Tuia Programme, where one rangatahi from each participating district is chosen to work closely with their mayor, through one-on-one mentoring, workshops, meetings and events. Raniera is my Tuia rangatahi this year and he accompanied me to this fabulous event.
There has been a lot of talk about the future lately, with the hotly-debated Three Waters Reform, our Representation Review 2021, and Whangārei District Council's Long Term Plan (LTP) 2021-2031.
We're constantly growing and developing our district in response to population growth, changing needs of our residents and visitors, and evolving awareness of the impacts of climate change.
The Three Waters Reform in particular could have a big impact on the future of our district. What would it mean for us to have our water assets managed and maintained under a new entity? What could that mean for service delivery, responsiveness to water infrastructure needs, future planning and supply autonomy?
It is the role of elected members to listen to the people of our district, to make sure their voices are heard in council chambers. We have listened, and we share your concerns. The future of our water supply is being discussed and I want to reassure you we are right there at the table, standing up and speaking on behalf of our district.
After engaging with our communities, deliberating in chambers and then consulting on the initial draft, our Representation Review 2021 is now closed for consultation. We had a lot of feedback during the informal stage of the review, and this carried through into the draft we presented for consultation.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and respond to this work, your voices will all be heard as we work towards the final version in chambers over the next month.
Our LTP 2021-2031 is now available on our council website (www.wdc.govt.nz/Council/Council-documents/Plans/Long-Term-Plans) and in hard copy at all council library branches.
We're very happy with the plan, and I encourage you to read it if you haven't already. This is the council's blueprint for the next 10 years in Whangārei District, outlining how much money we will have, where that money is coming from, where we're going to spend it and why.
I've always said the future in our district has never been brighter, so thank you for your involvement in shaping and enjoying that future, and if the calibre of people I met this weekend is anything to go by – the future for our country is equally exciting.
• Sheryl Mai is mayor of Whangārei.