May was a busy month starting with the Mayor and Councillors visit. They are visiting all local boards to get a feel for each place, meet the boards and talk about areas of concern. It was lovely to share Waiheke with them on a beautiful day. Issues we raised included environmental protection, changing demographics, potential economic growth areas, the vulnerable in society with a focus on youth and the elderly, the importance and challenges of a pool, low impact infrastructure design, the marina, Little Oneroa catchment and the Esplanade. We were also lucky enough to get shown round the Rothschild house at Wharetana Bay which just oozes history and is such a beautiful spot.

We were invited to see the final stages of an ongoing project at McKenzie Reserve. It was amazing to see the changes to the reserve and to witness what a dedicated group of volunteers is capable of, and to see how well Auckland Council parks fits into the mix. It was also lovely to see the new signage and area dedicated to teaching people about ecology and conservation and to see all the trees flourishing so well.

At the budget meeting, the Governing Body decided to exclude Waiheke and Great Barrier from the funding policy for local boards. Great to see the Mayor sticking up for Waiheke. This means that unlike other boards we will negotiate funding for local projects each year, rather than having an amount that is primarily population-based. While this is good, it does mean that our funding can vary from year to year, and with new ways of calculating things we may still have less for local projects.

The Art Gallery had a great showcase produced from the artist in residence programme. I particularly enjoyed seeing what artists who are unfamiliar with Waiheke noticed about our island in their art. Always loving things that are subversive or challenge us to think, I particularly liked Reg Mombassa’s ‘A secret maggot infested business horse, Waiheke Island.’

In May, census info number crunching revealed that Waiheke is being gentrified and also aging since the last census in 2006 – the average age moving from 41 to 45 with Auckland also aging from 34 to 35. Of particular concern is the rise in rental property costs. Thanks to Lisa Henley for the graphs.

And this is how our income is earned:

Also in May, the Centre for Global Studies had its inaugural meeting and it was interesting to hear from Klaus Bosselmann, Kennedy Graham and Rod Oram on the importance of global citizenship, the failure of global initiatives to produce any meaningful reduction in environmental destruction across a range of indicators and the importance of local initiatives in spearheading activities that reflect environmental and social responsibility.

Lastly the maintenance work on Sea View Road was completed. On the bright side there are shallow dish drains and the road/property interface is quite smooth. There have, however, been a number of issues raised around walkers, cyclists and riders feeling that there is little space to pull off the road, which is of concern as the driving conditions allow for faster speeds and there are potentially more walkers given the bus route has been discontinued. Auckland Transport traffic engineers are currently reviewing the road and hope to suggest improvements which will protect the safety of all users.

As we all curl up by the fires and radiators, a reminder to support Local Businesses and Totally Locally initiatives.

All the best to all.

Nga mihi