Rural issues remain, will strive for sustained focus
Voters will know by now that council has recommended staff bring back a final representation proposal which would establish two wards — one Maori and one general, thereby eliminating rural wards.
While those of us who took a different stance no doubt share deep reservations about what this means for our rurally-based families, communities and businesses in an uncertain future — the issues we collectively face are not diminished and remain to be addressed. These are spread across a vast array of policy areas from land-use change, land management, critical infrastructure, and an increasingly complex interplay of environmental, cultural and social objectives.
While we can, those of us representing rural communities and their support sectors will endeavour to ensure that sustained focus on our regional council responsibilities and most isolated communities is somehow provided for going forward, and that collectively we strive to live up to our potential, in delivering prosperity across the region.
I would like to acknowledge the people who took the time to make submissions, whether they supported rural wards or not, and in particular, those who rarely engage in council consultation processes, but who made the effort this time.
The number of submissions was substantially more than any representation review in the past, and submissions from the rural community were overwhelmingly supportive of rural wards.
I am writing this brief acknowledgement to express how humbling this experience has been, and to give my deepest thanks to those who rallied in support of retaining a rural voice. I am sure we have yet to live up to the faith you have put in us, but I am grateful for it, nonetheless.