Nav­i­gat­ing through a new po­lit­i­cal tide

Taupo Times - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ALAN LIV­INGSTON

The po­lit­i­cal tide has well and truly turned at a na­tional level with the in­stal­la­tion of the Labour-led coali­tion Govern­ment.

That sea change presents both op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for the Waikato re­gion which we’ll need to nav­i­gate wisely.

For ex­am­ple, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties in the new Govern­ment’s em­pha­sis on re­gional de­vel­op­ment and talk of more in­vest­ment in pub­lic trans­port.

Chal­lenges may in­clude ad­di­tional mea­sures to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity which would re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant re­sponse from the wider re­gional com­mu­nity. We could see a tighter fo­cus on rein­ing in the driv­ers of cli­mate change.

Re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tion over a new Waikato Plan and a re­gional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment agency due next year mean we’ll be well placed to re­spond to op­por­tu­ni­ties in a uni­fied way.

There are also ex­ist­ing moves un­der­way to look at im­prov­ing Hamil­ton-Auck­land trans­port con­nec­tions.

On the chal­lenges front, the re­gional coun­cil has al­ready de­vel­oped a ground-break­ing fresh­wa­ter strat­egy and scoped out emerg­ing cli­mate change is­sues.

Re­cent dis­cus­sion in the Waikato May­oral Fo­rum high­lighted how front-foot­ing re­gional mat­ters with new min­is­ters and MPs within the first few months of of­fice will be im­por­tant.

Col­lec­tively, coun­cils and lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions will be look­ing to build on ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships at gover­nance and ex­ec­u­tive lev­els to max­imise our voice be­ing heard.

The Waikato Plan’s joined up stance on a wide range of mat­ters will cer­tainly as­sist with that.

The fo­rum has agreed to a ‘‘multi-lay­ered ap­proach’’ to con­nect with cen­tral govern­ment go­ing for­ward.

One par­tic­u­lar bonus for the re­gion is the ap­point­ment of Waikato’s new min­is­ter Nanaia Mahuta to the port­fo­lios of Maori De­vel­op­ment, Lo­cal Govern­ment and As­so­ci­ate En­vi­ron­ment, all sub­jects very rel­e­vant to our re­gion.

The fo­rum and the re­gional coun­cil have very good re­la­tions with her al­ready and we look for­ward to work­ing with her to ad­vance mat­ters of in­ter­est to the wider com­mu­nity and Maori in our re­gion.

We are for­tu­nate that Nanaia has an in-depth knowl­edge of our re­gion and that she has had pre­vi­ous in­volve­ment with these port­fo­lios.

Also, iwi have an im­por­tant part to play in both Maori de­vel­op­ment and in the suc­cess of the wider com­mu­nity.

We were re­cently obliged to re­view Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion ar­range­ments and I was per­son­ally pleased to see a solid ma­jor­ity of re­gional coun­cil­lors sup­ported keep­ing our Maori seats on the coun­cil.

These seats work well in our case. The re­gional coun­cil has very spe­cific obli­ga­tions to Maori un­der the Re­source Man­age­ment Act and Treaty set­tle­ments and our Maori coun­cil­lors play an im­por­tant role in help­ing us meet these.

I have strongly ap­pre­ci­ated the work of our deputy chair Tipa Mahuta, of the Nga Hau e Wha con­stituency, and Kataraina Hodge, rep­re­sent­ing Nga Tai ki Uta, both as coun­cil­lors for the wider com­mu­nity and as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Maori.

Fi­nally it’s im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge the hard work in re­cent years of our ex-min­is­ters and MPs now in op­po­si­tion. We will con­tinue to work closely with all par­ties for the ben­e­fit of the Waikato.

· Alan Liv­ingston is chair of the Waikato May­oral Fo­rum and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil. The views are his own.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil chair­man Alan Liv­ingston.

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