Kia Ora Everyone,

It seems the gap between reports gets longer but it’s important to me that I keep a record of what the main events were so here goes…

October saw the LB submit against the government proposal for deep sea oil drilling off the NZ coastline. Waiheke, with support from other boards, secured $200,000 out of the $10 million capital fund – which would have been $58,000 if simply calculated per capita. Still a pittance in relation to what AC spends generally, but better than nothing.

Great Barrier Trip
At the very end of October Waiheke and Waitakare Ranges Local Boards flew to Barrier to spend time with the Barrier Local Board. Factfinding mission or junket? Well, I had my doubts as I’m sure many of you did but in the end I thought it was a well spent $220 flight. It was really informative to see Great Barrier, the challenges they face, talk about how we deal with transport, environmental, community capacity building, and tourism from a board perspective. For me it was especially interesting to see how another Local board functions, shares responsibility and gets things done as well as to see the kinds of challenges that are particular to the Barrier Board. The isolation and population mean that it is hard to support a diverse economic base and this is a challenge in terms of generating sufficient income locally for the people who live there.

Highlights – seeing the wildness of Great Barrier, and the wildlife – Kaakaa and Brown Teal at Glenfern Sanctuary, as well as the storm petrel nesting area. Glenfern Sanctuary was really well set up and provides an interesting model for an environmental centre with a space for education, opportunities to stay in the house, and walk on the property. It was really interesting to hear about their conservation work, particularly in animal pest management.

The art gallery was lovely with really diverse art, craft and cosmetics that are made locally. We also had the opportunity to visit a local potter.

If you haven’t made plans for the holidays, and want to escape the bustle – Barrier might be the place to go – Waiheke as it was thirty years ago by some accounts.

We are currently waiting for the review of public transport on Waiheke, the broken pavement on the road to the ferry is being replaced, and there are steps being taken to establish a cycling network. There is also a bit of a campaign around speed, and good to be reminded that will more cars, pedestrians, cyclists and horses on the road, we all need to share with care. We’re also looking at congestion in the Matiatia keyhole and are aware of managing traffic through the Summer season. With so many competing interests it’s hard to come up with workable solutions that please everyone. With more ferries coming in every hour this will also be a space to watch.

Economic Development
Very exciting news for the island that we the only destination to be in the top five of two destination promoters – top 5 destinations in The Lonely Planet Guide and top 4 Islands in Conde Nast Traveller. It’s unclear what the effect of this will be, although there is already a sense that visitor numbers are up for the season. This is something the local board are watching carefully and working with Auckland Council, ATEED and the tourism forum to try and anticipate potential needs.

Lots of great activities happening at Waiheke Adult Learning to support a range of interests and needs. I attended a workshop on online marketing and promotion that was well-attended by local businesses and there are ongoing opportunities in this area.

The Local Board submitted for Auckland Council to make a strong case to the government that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement poses a threat to local business and economic opportunities.

Community development
There has been a meeting of people interested in social housing and some interest in addressing the various island needs. I am particularly interested in opportunities around securing land to build social housing and the board is facilitating discussions in this area.

The Youth Centre has now had over 5,000 visits this year and is a real hub for kids on the island, particularly the tweens who enjoy having somewhere to drop into after school and at weekends.

Living Without Violence has organised a significant number of events around leading a violence free lifestyle. These include a focus on mistreatment of animals, thinking about workplace responsibility towards people who may be experiencing violence at home, as well as promoting healthy lifestyles and initiatives.

I spent last weekend at a feminist conference, promoting the idea of government being a valid and desirable career opportunity for women. I was blown away by the different ways in which women are still competing on an uneven playing field – whether in terms of visibility on screen, recognition in the arts, representation at higher levels of leadership and governance, or in terms of equal pay. The gender pay gap (of 14%) means that women will be working for nothing, in relation to men in comparable roles, until the end of the year.

Events, Arts and Culture
November saw the start of the tourist season with great events from the Literary Festival, the Jassey Dean Garden Safari and the Walking Festival. All events complimented each other really well and it was really lovely to also see the launch of the Te Ara Hura Round Island Walkway with all the new signage and interesting facts about Waiheke.

The Santa Parade and Carols by the Sea are all on in the next two weeks. Be part of a float or come down to Little Oneroa for a singalong.

All the very best for a peaceful and properous New Year.
Nga mihi