Kaipara’s new council assemble for the first time under the leadership of Mayor Jason Smith, who spoke of the coming three years as a time of growth for the Kaipara

Collaboration and climate change

by Paul Campbell

The new Kaipara District Council has been sworn in with Mayor Jason Smith highlighting “collaborations and partnerships” as well as awareness of climate change in an address to the community at a town hall powhiri last Friday.

“For Kaipara District Council in the term ahead you should expect to see strengthening relationships with our iwi partners and neighbouring councils,” he said.

“The increasing strength of these relationships is evidenced in the fact we’ve all shared a powhiri this morning with our key iwi partners from Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Te Kuihi, Te Parawhau and Ngati Whatua.

“We’re also making real progress with our neighbouring councils, and it’s especially delightful to be graced with the presence of Her Worship the Mayor of Whangarei Sheryl Mai. I’d also like to acknowledge Matt King MP for Northland who’s joined us.”

Dr Smith said it is Kaipara’s turn to lead both the Northland Mayoral Forum and also chair meetings of Local Government New Zealand’s Zone 1/Northland, which are the combined meetings of all the councillors of the four councils of the north.

“Our Kaipara voice is growing stronger, and then, to top it off, Northland Regional Council is planning to build a new $8m office building for themselves and us. Everyone else is starting to work out we’re an attractive place to be, and Kaipara District has the fastest-growing population of any North Island district in the last six years, at 20.6% growth. That means one in every five people in Kaipara today has arrived in the last six years. This is a quiet revolution bringing new citizens, new residents, new energy, investments and ideas — Kaipara’s back in business. Where once its debt levels were truly horrible, after a time of austerity, council debt is now significantly reduced and Kaipara finds itself safely in the middle of the pack of councils for debt per capita — ranked something like number 35 of 67 territorial councils across New Zealand.

“As a council, we’ll be working hard to shape the future of the Kaipara, which is already growing fast, particularly in the east. We’ll continually criss-cross the district, encouraging cross-pollination of energy and ideas, bringing the east to the west and vice-versa, and gaining strength as we go.”

Dr Smith addressed climate change saying “things out there are getting more complicated, and the media presents once far-away problems of climate change, sea-level rise and global warming for us to tackle.

“Kaipara people are practical, no-nonsense people who don’t do hysteria, and with that attitude in mind I reckon we should just get on with the job of being ‘Climate-smart Kaipara’, which means that we’re a place that’s using the best smart technologies and innovations combined with local common sense to make our way forward.

“Climate-smart Kaipara may include waste minimisation strategies, plastic recycling, water storage projects, regenerative agriculture where farmers use the many thousands of hectares of Kaipara pasture land as a carbon sink, new tropical kinds of crops or animals, world-class drainage engineering or a council that’s consciously reducing its carbon footprint.

“I propose we start gathering these sorts of ideas now for the Climate-smart Kaipara we need to become and ask everyone in the community to start thinking about what we can do here.

“Good governance and decision-making by your council mean as we go we’ll be watching closely the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of our people and this place.”