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GDC asset and governance moves set scene for the future

Opinion Piece

The year of the refugee or the year of ISIS, either would fit for 2015 on the world scene — while in Gisborne one of the most dramatic role changes in the history of local government, the transfer of commercial activities to Gisborne Holdings Ltd, continued to attract attention.

The flood of refugees into Western Europe, Germany alone has taken more than a million, was the greatest movement of people on the continent since World War 2. It brought out a hero in Germany’s Angela Merkel and villains in the shape of people smugglers and nationalist xenophobes.

Paris was the scene of two defining events, the terrorist massacre of 130 innocent people and the summit that reached an agreement on the global response to climate change.

It was a great year for New Zealand sport with the All Blacks defending the Rugby World Cup and golfer Lydia Ko getting better all the time, plus a good year for our rowers and cricketers (mostly).

Events in Gisborne may seem mundane compared to global affairs but some of them will have far-reaching effects.

Transferring ownership of most council properties and its new administration building to the council’s fully owned subsidiary Gisborne Holdings Ltd, with more commercial operations to follow, marked a huge change. GHL is gaining some big responsibilities, as has the economic development agency Activate Tairawhiti.

A long awaited and much needed freshwater plan finally appeared and an agreement between Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou and the council on the co-management and governance of the vast Waiapu River catchment could be the start of a whole new relationship with Maori.

2016 is a local body election year, so look for the politicking to gather pace as October approaches from both the present Mayor and councillors and those who will challenge them.

There are plenty of challenges ahead for Gisborne, there always will be, but as a whole the community can look back on 2015 as a success and look forward to 2016 with optimism.