RU­RAL REP­RE­SEN­TA­TION

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - Ger­rard Eck­hoff For­mer Otago Re­gional Coun­cil­lor

The re­cent Otago Re­gional Coun­cil by-elec­tion re­sult in the Dun­stan ward is in it­self, un­re­mark­able.

Some­one wins, some loses. What is sig­nif­i­cant is the win by Ella Lawton her­alds the end of ru­ral rep­re­sen­ta­tion in this area - quite pos­si­bly for­ever.

The chang­ing de­mo­graphic of Cen­tral Otago al­most cer­tainly guar­an­tees any can­di­date from Queen­stown, Wanaka and to a lesser ex­tent Cromwell, a seat on the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil.

The ur­ban­i­sa­tion of Cen­tral Otago, es­pe­cially in this past decade, has changed vot­ers’ em­pha­sis from pro­duc­tion to preser­va­tion.

It now ap­pears that a view from a res­i­dent’s home over­look­ing an out­stand­ing nat­u­ral land­scape will al­ways take prece­dence over those who have worked and main­tained, lived and died, within the very land­scape so many de­mand must re­main in its ‘‘nat­u­ral’’ state.

The his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural use rights of own­er­ship in this area (which farm­ers es­pe­cially have taken for granted), are now sub­ju­gated to the own­er­ship of a few hun­dred square me­tres and room with a view.

This sit­u­a­tion is well il­lus­trated at a na­tional po­lit­i­cal level where - what Auck­land wants, Auck­land vot­ers get and usu­ally at the ex­pense of the prov­inces’ needs.

It is en­tirely jus­ti­fied to ex­pect our re­gional coun­cil to recog­nise the risks to our en­vi­ron­ment in which we all share and have re­spon­si­bil­ity for.

Un­for­tu­nately, in this democ­racy of ours, the three ‘‘lo­cal’’ Dun­stan voices are of­ten ig­nored in favour of the Duned­in­cen­tric ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors.

Bus hubs, new of­fice build­ings, con­crete river ways for flood pro­tec­tion in Dunedin North (Leith River) con­tin­u­ally trump wilding tree con­trol and lake mon­i­tor­ing.

C’est la vie.

For­mer Otago Re­gional coun­cil­lor Ger­rald Eck­hoff.

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