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All in this together: time to get real

Opinion Piece

When reflecting on the highs and lows of 2019, one cannot escape the conclusion that, as a community, we have missed opportunities to strengthen our defences against the economic, environmental and social threats to our well-being.

In my humble opinion, part of the reason for this unfortunate position is that we have not adequately recognised the nature of the beast we confront, or the intellectual and physical resources required to mount that defence.

There are actually three parts to this equation. All are the responsibility of people either elected to the council or those appointed to governing boards like Trust Tairawhiti.

1. The first is to identify opportunities for economic development.

2. The second is to list them in priority order that can be used when allocating scarce financial resources in the development process.

3. The third is to encourage everybody, including independent and special interest groups who have gained a high profile from previous community programmes, to recognise they have a responsibility to contribute and continue contributing to the collective well-being of the whole region.

For want of a better term, the whole process is called strategic planning.

Unfortunately, it is the area of responsibility where previous councils and boards have been found wanting, and it's not hard to see why.

Pretty obvious really! Our predicament is simply described as being “between a rock and a hard place” with little room for movement.

The leaders we need are born, they are not made and they are most likely to come from those who have experience of what works best for us. An apprenticeship in strategic planning requires years of studying the limiting factors that we must come to know like the back of our hand.

We have few resources or options, but the ones we do have need to be managed with skill that is frankly demonstrably in short supply, given the track record of those who have been in charge of our destiny over the past 12 months.

Clearly, the selection criteria we have been using when choosing the make-up of our boards and council hasn't delivered the personnel with the skills fit for the times. That must change.

Finally, an observation from the year just finished and it relates to governance responsibilities of our leadership.

There is a preciousness developing amongst some sections of society that is being allowed to influence decisions at the highest level.

It has a name. It is called being “woke”!

I have to admit that until recently, I didn't have a clue what it meant but it is a phenomenon that has more destructive power than an Aussie bushfire.

It apparently involves special consideration being given to minorities of all descriptions. While I accept that these groups have equal rights to all the rest of us, that shouldn't include being allowed to dictate how the rest of the community operates.

We've seen how the tyranny of the minority can hold the country to ransom as the worst aspects of MMP rears its head in the political system we have chosen.

We need this new version like a hole in the head and should demand our leaders have the courage to keep it at bay.

After all, we are all in this together!

  1. Lara MEYER says:

    Hi Clive,
    A couple of things. Firstly, you write that:
    ‘The leaders we need are born, they are not made and they are most likely to come from those who have experience of what works best for us. An apprenticeship in strategic planning requires years of studying the limiting factors that we must come to know like the back of our hand’.
    If I know anything, it is this; it takes at least 10 000 hours of dedicated enactment of knowledge and skills to develop expertise. Such expertise helps build the capacities of a great leader. So great leaders are not born, they are shaped through trial and error. Qualities of intelligence, empathy, courage and excellent communication skills are useful in a great leader.
    Secondly, you write that minority groups have the right to expect equitable outcomes but that minority groups shouldn’t dictate how the majority group within a community operate. Your assertion is the antithesis of equity.
    Fully functioning communities make a point of ensuring that every group is able to experience equitable outcomes. A majority group cannot decide what is best for minorities. Otherwise the status quo is ensured.
    There is a difference between equity and equality. I wonder whether you have confused the two?

  2. Lara MEYER says:

    Over the period of 2015/2016, I was asked to explore the ways in which we could leverage education in the region in support of economic outcomes.
    After 9 months of research I reported back to ECT as it was then, that the best bang for buck would be.
    1. Ensure all educators are trained to gain expertise as educators of Maori students. Students who make up a significant percentage of the school age population yet continue to underperform. If you don’t believe me just visit the Ministry of Education’s website and look at the data for achievement and engagement of Maori students in our mainstream schools. It is still woeful.
    2. Explore the idea of amalgamating the four high schools, which are all within a 2km radius of each other, into one Tairawhiti College, so there are four campuses and the most expert teachers in the region can be freely available to every student. Maximising the opportunities for students to receive an education which ensures they are highly educated .
    Doing these two things would grow the capacity of the young to start addressing some of the issues that Clive infers are causing issues in the here and now.
    Unfortunately, the report was not tabled. I have wondered ever since whether that was because I could find no evidence to push for the need for a private school in the region or for more investment in digital technology.