Getting it right
Our census form finally arrived on Monday, with our online access instructions. We, like many others, were concerned it would arrive on time. It’s important to participate, and especially important to rural Northland for right decision-making.
The method of collecting census information this year has changed significantly. It is now, by default, expected to be completed online. While I can see the advantages and agree with the approach, I am concerned about how many in rural Northland are coping with this new method. I know of many places in Northland that don’t have cell phone access, and a significant number have no internet access at home. It concerns me that many people in our remote areas, especially those without a computer or the elderly, may have struggled to complete the form online. Central government has considered these “rare” circumstances, and offers, on request, the option of receiving paper forms, but this takes more time and hassle.
The census data are particularly important to us in the North. The information is used by central government, councils and government departments when making decisions that affect us. For example, census data were used to estimate the growth in Kerikeri when sizing the sewerage scheme. They are used by the Ministry of Health when looking at the allocation of funding for each area. I have heard of some estimates saying Northland is missing out on millions of dollars in government allocations because the census information under-reports the rural Northland population.
It is not too late. You can still complete the census online, or request paper forms, fill them in and send them back. If you haven’t done so, please do; you will be helping your community.
That brings me to the council’s longterm plan. Every three years the council reviews its longterm plan, which then goes out to the public for consultation. The LTP sets out what the council proposes to do in the next 10 years. You will see key issues outlined and what are considered to be the important priorities.
Have we got this right? Already I have heard some saying we have, and others saying we have not. I personally have difficulty with the effectiveness of how we consult and set priorities, and wonder why we can’t look at capturing community aspirations in more innovative ways.
Once the LTP is finalised it becomes very difficult to make any significant changes, so it is critical that everyone has their say, especially in smaller rural communities, which are often overlooked in favour of the larger centres.
Right on the front page of the LTP notice is ‘He Ara Tamata, Creating Great Places.’ If we haven’t created the right mix for your community to become a great place, then have your say.
"It concerns me that many people in our remote areas, especially those without a computer or the elderly, may have struggled to complete the census form online. "