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Selfless service and kindness impressive

Opinion Piece

It has been a whirlwind two weeks in our region — I started to list every function I have attended but realised I would use all my 600 words if I mentioned them all! Instead, I will share a few highlights.

On the volunteer front, we had the Civic Awards where we celebrated members of our community who give so much of themselves to serve others. I also had the privilege of opening the new Stroke Support building in Palmerston Road. So many families are affected by stroke and this organisation and its volunteers go out of their way to support those individuals and whanau. We also had the yummy Strawberry Festival fundraising for Hospice Tairawhiti — the sun came out especially for this fun event! The rain could not dampen the fun and games at the Terrier Races — another great event, put on by a group of passionate women fundraising to support ladies in our region affected by breast cancer.

I am constantly blown away by the selfless service and kindness in our community — we look after each other in the good and very tough times.

I had the privilege to hand over the Charter to the City to the Commander of the HMNZS Manawanui in a beautiful ceremony on Friday. Aside from several formal events, the ship was open to the public on Saturday morning and more than 1300 locals took the opportunity to investigate this huge research, rescue and hydrographic vessel that now calls Gisborne its homeport. Commander Andy Mahoney hosted a naval scholarship ceremony on-board and together we had the honour of awarding scholarships to Sterling Maxwell and Clayden Hope. Well done!

Now to council business. We welcomed Isaac Hughes to the GDC family last Monday — he was sworn in at the start of our meeting and within an hour cast his first vote. I know that Isaac will be a valuable member of our councillor team.

As I look back on the past three months, we as a council, and a community, have discussed and debated several contentious issues. Councillors made decisions in regards to the Endeavour models and we also decided to establish Maori wards in time for the 2022 elections. Both topics ignited debates on social media, in the “letters to the editor” and in my office.

We received significant and varied feedback on both topics. Councillors spent days poring over submissions. It is never straightforward or easy to make decisions on behalf of nearly 50,000 residents. We have 14 councillors who bring feedback and ideas from their different constituents and as a group of representatives, we aim to make decisions that we believe are the best for our region — now and into the future. I know that we will still be discussing both topics going forward — we need to. By sharing ideas, concerns and knowledge, we all learn from each other and sometimes come to understand that we have more in common than we realise.

Covid has significantly impacted all of our lives in 2020. As a council, we are looking to the future and refocusing and prioritising what our most urgent projects are. We need to stay focused on doing the basics well. Central government has now announced its priorities and that will also add to our workload — especially in the environmental space. As always, our commitment is to serve our community in a way that makes them proud. We are on a (sometimes bumpy) journey together and I sincerely hope that 2021 will treat us, and the world, better.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz.