It’s been lovely to have a rest over the New Year. I had the opportunity to spend time in India and travelling always makes you realise how similar and different the challenges are in different places. In India people complain about similar things – the explosion in the cost of living, the increasing difficulties in trying to “get ahead” and the lack of purchasing power. Other big issues are pollution – taxis and buses now run on LPG in major cities with taxis carrying baggage on the roof as the boot carries the LPG cylinder. Rubbish continues to build up on the street with acrid smoke billowing from piles of burning plastic and non-composting matter. Waste management is clearly one of the world’s biggest headaches. Cars here are bigger and faster than they used to be and there are fewer cows on the roads to slow everyone down so consequently people feel more unsafe as pedestrians. The lowpoint of the trip was watching a helmetless couple on a motorbike fly through the air after being hit by a car.

On Waiheke we seem to be having a bumper year in terms of visitors. There’s been a steady stream of them with some days quite chaotic. Fullers and Explore have both done a great job in processing them out of the terminal and to their various parts of the island. We do have an increasing bottleneck of buses, tour operators and taxis at the wharf so we need to think about how to manage that into the future, as well as how we can share the wealth across our local tour operators.

Maps, brochures for activities and Waiheke walks have been available around the island, and island businesses are gearing up for Sculpture in the Gulf which runs from the 23rd of January to the 15th of February. This year a bus will connect the end of the walk to Oneroa village and visitors will have the option of an all day bus pass so we should expect a greater spread of visitors across the island.

Thanks to the cinema and supporters, Cinema in the Courtyard will take place over the next three Fridays, so take a picnic up to Artworks and enjoy the movies. The Wharf to Wharf, the Twilight Rambles have proved very popular, the Rocky Bay Regatta was too – lots of fun events that create lovely bumping spaces and opportunities to meet each other and off islanders.

There is a second social enterprise open day on the 21st of January. The closing date for applications is February and people should contact renee.tanner@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz for Expression of Interest information or pick this up from the library.

At the last board meeting I understood that I tabled my response to the requisition letter asking for a change in the deputy chair role. This was apparently not the case. I am therefore attaching my statement (which was read out at the previous meeting) with the supporting documentation on the rotation of the deputy chair to this report as I would like my understanding to also be on public record.

Nga Mihi
Shirin Brown