Kia Ora everyone

The kids are back at school but we still seem to be getting lots of visitors on Waiheke. Some weekends seem to have as much activity as pre-Christmas.

AT are aware of the issues around buses and ferries, people missing connections, confusion around bus and ferry timetables, and these not reflecting actual departure and arrival times.

Explore have now got a new booth in the ferry terminal. It would have been nice to accommodate them within the existing structures, and I wish the sight lines to the ferries wasn’t blocked, but it’s also good that they have a more visible space within the terminal.

February and March seem to be the time for consultation. There’s the local board plan, which is still open until the 24th of March – good to remind us of what you’d like for the island or things that need improving (item last on the consultation) even if you’re not interested in answering the specific questions on the form. Hard copies are available from the Service Centre in Ostend or the library but it can also be completed online –

I spent quite a bit of time this month trying to get to grips with the implications of the TPPA. Last Monday I was at the government road show and also asked some questions of the head of the winegrower’s association about the implications of the agreement. While it seems to me that it will provide benefit to businesses that are export competent and seeking new markets, there is a risk that our own local industry and artesan producers are swamped by bigger players seeking to penetrate the NZ market. I therefore prepared a submission to the select committee dealing with the TPPA, raising the issues of concern around the TPPA for local business and local government (see attached).

In the arts we met with the Art Gallery at Artworks to address their concerns around how to improve their funding streams and position themselves as having regional significance. This is part of a greater discussion around how we position Waiheke as an island of art so that others see us as we see ourselves. I can really feel the increase in community capability and talent over the last few years both in visual arts and performing arts.

Hearings have now been held on Alison Park with a view to reclassifying the building as a community facility rather than having a parks designation. This will allow for a greater range of activity to be permissible within the building. We are also still waiting for outcome of the tender process for management of the facility. If there is no-one suitable, it will become a hall for hire. The intention, however, is to maximise its use so that it does not remain empty for much of the year with only an occasional booking. This would mirror the success of the old library space which has been activated for the benefit of community through it’s management by Waiheke Adult Learning.

Quick response grants are open until the 8th of April. It would be great to see a range of groups applying. The grants have a far simplified process now and aside from the fact there are more demands on the money than what we can offer, there are fewer hoops to jump through to fill out the application. – 231

One highlight this month has been attending the citizenship ceremony at the town hall. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but being a recent immigrant myself it was quite moving to be able to give out certificates to other people who are settling here and also to know many of the Waiheke faces that went through on the day.

The other highlights were going down to Wellington for the inaugural Women in Politics AGM (see attached report) and going to the zoo to see the progress on their ten year plan, see the new elephant, check out the reconfiguration of Pridelands and the new meerkat and aviary area.

On the island, I’ve been enjoying going along to Piritahi Marae on a Friday night 6-8 pm to learn Waiata for the opening of the wharenui. The dressing is in progress with the carvings, and tukutuku panels being put in. Everyone is welcome and it’s a wonderful opportunity for Maori, Pakeha and Tauiwi to work together and support Piritahi Marae. This message from Whaea Huhana: “Our mahi of over twenty years is nearly completed and we now need your awhi to ensure the celebration of this most important Tipuna whakapapa mahi and korero truly becomes an awesome, treasured and memorable occasion for us all. Set Date for the Tuwhera is Sunday June 5th – 2016 – Queens Birthday Weekend!

Have a great month – there’s starting to be a chill in the air but I’m still getting down for a swim.

Nga mihi

Shirin Brown

Women in Politics AGM Report

Last week (Tuesday the 8th), I was down in Wellington for the inaugural Women in Politics AGM. Great to meet lots of enterprising women from across the political spectrum and working at different levels of government – from local board through regional councils and councils to MPs. It was interesting to find out about the challenges they face but also to be able to share ideas around making good decisions and working with communities.

Really enjoyed hearing from Zodwa Lallie, South African High Commissioner to NZ about how South Africa now has gender equity enshrined in legislation so that 50% of elected representatives need to be women. She is pictured with the speaker of the South African House behind her. She made us laugh saying she loved how Kate Sheppard was telling everyone when to stop and go outside Parliament – a reference to the green pedestrian light outside the beehive where the green man has been replaced by a silhouette of our suffragette.

Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that women are more likely to seek compromise and cross party support, less likely to want our name on the plaque, support spending on social benefits rather than the military, be a voice for, and make decisions that favour, equity and diversity. Interesting to see what would happen if we had a quota here. Personally I think it’s an excellent idea as we currently expect to reach gender equity in representation by 2133 with current figures stagnating around the 30% mark across different levels of government.
We held the AGM and I was elected to the committee. As if life isn’t busy enough. Ultimately though, whether Maori, gay, migrant, any of us who belong to minorities (women make up 51% of the population, not sure how we got to be a minority) end up having to hold the space for diversity as well as fulfill the demands of the role. If not, sadly, nothing seems to change.

Thank you to the board for supporting this use of professional development funding.
Shirin Brown