Huge support for mayoral campaign
by Paul Campbell
The response to Kia Kaha Northland, launched last week by the mayors of Kaipara, Far North and Whangarei along with the Northland Regional Council has been “absolutely extraordinarily positive,” in just the first week, they have said in a joint statement.
“We have had support from right across the political spectrum, from Maori and Pakeha, from farmers and city-dwellers, from chambers of commerce and community volunteers, and from Northlanders from southern Kaipara to Cape Reinga.
“More than 117,000 people have engaged with our content on Facebook, above 25,000 have watched our first video all the way through. Moreover, more than 3,000 are now formally backing Kia Kaha Northland by liking our page.
“The message is overwhelmingly that the central government needs to get on and make the Big Five happen for the benefit not just of Northland, but of Auckland and all of New Zealand.”
The five projects Kia Kaha Northland is campaigning for are:
- A $240 million dry dock to service ocean-going vessels
- A new base for the Royal New Zealand Navy to replace Devonport in Auckland
- An expanded Northport
- The completion of a four-lane expressway from Whangarei to Auckland, including the planned four-lane highway to Port Marsden
- Fast-tracking a double-tracked rail line from West Auckland to Whangarei, including Port Marsden
“The most common feedback from Northlanders so far is ‘yes, make the Big Five happen, but make sure you protect our environment, cultural heritage and unique Northland way of life’,” the mayors said. “As Northland’s mayors, we will be the first to board the protest vessels or go to the barricades if there is any serious risk to our marine or land environments, cultural values or unique Northland way of life.
“Northlanders can be assured that the four-lane highway and double-tracked rail line must be suitable for electric and hydrogen vehicles.
“That Northport will be New Zealand’s most modern port, among the world’s cleanest, greenest, lowest-carbon and most sustainable.
“There will be no port expansion northwards into Whangarei Harbour, with Northport being required to expand its current operations only east and west.” The mayors said the first-week response to Kia Kaha Northland, for which no ratepayers’ funds are being used, had exceeded the campaign’s forecasts, but there was still a long way to go.
“Bluntly, outside the excitement of Waitangi week, the Wellington bureaucracy ignores Northland.
“No politician of any party colour will ultimately ‘press go’ on the Big Five unless Northlanders say loud and clear that we want them,” they said. “We need all Northlanders to support Kia Kaha Northland by liking it or following it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by emailing, calling or writing to the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the leader of the opposition and our local electorate and list MPs. We need to make 2020 Northland’s year.”