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Ed Said - What future for Kaipara?

While legal claim and counter-claim still lingers on within the Kaipara, so does dissatisfaction with not only the appoint-ment of the Commissioners but also the job they are doing and the accompanying costs, mistrust and disbelief from several angles. There must be some consideration of who may stand for Council at next year’s elections and the start of lobbying is pro-ably but six months away.

I could name half a dozen people whom I believe would be likely candidates, two of which would be female – only my idea of course – but is ‘wanting to do your bit for the community’ sufficient qualification given the events of the past decade?

The cry has been loud and long criticis-ing those who, despite goodwill, did not have the individual nor collective exper-tise to run a multi-million dollar business. I’m not sure any of my projected half doz-en would either. Then, for those with such knowledge and ability, who would take the job which, for someone so qualified, pays but a pittance and in the knowledge that one is likely to become cannon-fodder for some or all 14,000 ratepayers at any given time.

Things to consider go far beyond civic duty or goodwill. Firstly democracy. Plenty will say ‘we haven’t had any of that for years,’ but democracy is representing your Ward within Council but for the betterment of the Kaipara as a whole. It’s lobbying hard to get other Councillors to see your point of view but it’s also accepting that Council, as a whole, may vote against your proposal or plan and accepting such a result without throwing your toys out of the cot.

I wonder how many who are considering standing next year know how Council itself is structured, how meetings are framed as opposed to a workshop, how an agenda actually works as opposed to a cas-ual chat over coffee around a big oval table. I wonder how many have actually attended a Council meeting from a purely objective point of view just to observe the mechana-tions of local government. In the case of our local area, the Council meeting at Kaiwaka on August 18 consisted only of Coun-cil representatives with not one member of the public in attendance – a little surprising considering the undercurrent of concerns heard on the street.

With results of court proceedings pending, by Christmas there should be some definite decisions forthcoming, the whole system of local body politics may be about to change, not just for Kaipara but through-out New Zealand.

Presume, for example, that the appeal court decision goes against the MRRA. Will the decision be gracefully accepted? I doubt it. The animosity will remain for some con-siderable time. Presume then that the ap-peal court decision goes in favour of the MRRA, what then? Does everyone then get a big fat payout? Again I doubt it, but the eco-care system must continue as such is the growth of Mangawhai.

Who will decide the cost and then who will decide how much the ratepayers will be levied for this on-going facility because the only income for Kaipara Council is via its ratepayers – and this is completely divorced from any projects happening in the rest of the Kaipara.

There have been some big decisions made in the past, many not well executed given the benefit of hindsight, but there will be some similarly big decisions to be made in the not-too-distant future.

And if you are thinking of standing next year, just remember the words of writer Mhairi McFarlane: “Do nothing, and nothing happens. Life is about decisions. You either make them or they're made for you, but you can't avoid them.”

- Rob

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