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A 250th and ?an election . . .

Opinion Piece

Another year is upon us and as always it will bring with it hopes for a better future, and fears of what that future might actually hold.

Certainly it is going to be a big year for this district, headed by the Tuia Encounters 250 commemorations in October.

The contrast with the 1969 celebrations will be huge — the image of Cook has come under attack from some in the past 50 years, as the national character has changed beyond recognition.

While the tragedies that dominated that first visit need to be recognised, there is still plenty to celebrate for both Maori and Pakeha. The first meetings here were the foundation encounters of the country we have today.

Four days after the 250th anniversary of those first meetings, the local government elections will take place. It is to be hoped that these major events can co-exist, but that might not be easy.

There will also be a distraction in the form of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which runs through the same period up to a final on November 2.

Leading up to the election, Gisborne District Council has some big problems to confront — most noticeably what to do to about logging trucks in the central city and the issue of the wastewater upgrade and discharges into city rivers. Both could have an impact on the actual election.

Mayoral candidates are yet to throw their hats in the ring. No doubt they will do so soon, with most interest centred on the plans of six-term incumbent Meng Foon and deputy mayor for the past two terms Rehette Stoltz.

New Zealand enters the new year in a good financial position thanks to a $5.5 billion surplus, but there are economic storm clouds on the horizon. Wall Street has had its worst December since 1931 and the tariffs war between China and the United States is a serious concern. US President Donald Trump has two or possibly six more years in which to wreak havoc on the long-established world order.

It would not be New Year’s Eve without a resolution. Let’s make ours to work together to reduce Tairawhiti’s horrific record of family violence, to celebrate cultural diversity, and most of all to respect each other and be kind.