Kia Ora everyone

It’s a very busy Summer which of course is great for business but can be tricky for infrastructure to keep up. I think we’ve coped really well though. People are generally good spirited, the toilets are generally clean and we’re usually on top of rubbish collections with increased service levels over Summer. If you notice anything that’s not up to scratch, please continue to report it to the Council line on 301 0101. The Board were able to get the beach ambassadors programme again this year which meant there was some support for visitors at our popular beaches.

Moving into the future we do need more public toilets in places like Oneroa, but the challenge is working out who will pay for extending an inftrastructure that off-islanders use, when the Local Board only manages a small pot of funding. Anecdotal feedback suggests that the increase in ferries has been a mixed blessing – on the one hand the traffic at Matiatia has been constantly high with few breaks for frontline staff but on the other hand the steady flow has meant that transport operators have found it easier to manage their business.

What has been interesting is the knock on effects of changing ferry times and having three ferries an hour. The logistics of running that many ferries, queuing to get into the wharves downtown, and the fluctuating visitor numbers have affected the reliability of the service and connections with buses. This has been very difficult for regular users of both ferries and the bus service. I still think that AT should be allowed to manage the service more effectively, and we should have integrated ticketing but there seems to be a lack of appetite to suggest a change in legislation to include ferries in the public transport network.

The long-awaited Matiatia decision has meant that we can start looking at a process to reconfigure the space at Matiatia to accommodate our competing and changing needs better. The issues are as always a lack of space and demands that change according to the time of year. Ultimately there are probably a limited number of solutions and everyone’s needs will need to be balanced to make the space workable.

The new Countdown building is going up steadily and we are currently working through traffic concerns and pedestrian and cycling access. As with most of our roads, there isn’t a lot of spare space, but like many locals we are concerned about how to manage increasing volumes of traffic safely while preserving the livelihood and access to other businesses in the area.

The Board had grave concerns about the lack of debate around the TPPA, how this would affect local, smaller businesses and what the implications are for our governance roles, particularly in terms of decisions we make around public health and safety. Given the lack of response and lack of information, we thought it prudent to declare the island TPPA free until such time as our questions could be answered adequately. There is an increasing feeling that a document that has been prepared in secret, only with input from corporate lobbyists will have far reaching effects while not protecting the interests of New Zealand business or civic society. MFAT (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) are organising a roadshow to clarify the effects on primary industries, the digital economy and copyright and I urge interested people to go along. Please contact Kylie Morrell on 04 494 6464 or email  I will be attending and am happy to raise any questions on behalf of Waiheke. Please email me with concerns.

The island was a great focus for the arts with great learning opportunities and exhibitions at the various galleries. I always enjoy Oneroa sculptures and the way Oneroa is transformed, and this year it was lovely to see the Learning Centre used as a gallery. The range and quality of work on the island is very impressive at the moment with materials being used to stunning effect and individual voices coming through clearly.

The artworks precinct is becoming more and more lively and lovely with signage and activities at one or other of the venues and the library. The last of the cinema in the courtyard events is this Friday 19th with Labyrinth.

February always feels like it’s a busy and fun month for locals. Music in Parks and Waitangi Day at the marae have been two highlights so far. The Onetangi Beach Races are on this Sunday, and of course it’s bike month so check out some of those events and get riding.

In terms of community development we now have a strategic broker, Brett Young, who can help demystify council processes for organisations trying to access resources through Council.

Mark Inglis has also joined us as local board advisor. I’m really enjoying working with someone who has a background in community development and knows the island well.

Enjoy the rest of the Summer
Nga mihi