Unprecedented events are unfolding around us as we deal with a double-header of challenges: the worst drought in decades, possibly a century, which we’ve already all been dealing with for months; and then a rapidly evolving virus pandemic that’s global and now impacting locally at speed.
Though the news is filled with almost unbelievable updates on the Covid-19 virus, the drought has already been impacting Kaipara for months and has set the start of 2020 as a challenging year here. Recent forecast rains from Cyclone Gretel failed to deliver and highest-level water restrictions remain in place for all 5 of Kaipara’s municipal water supplies, the first time Council’s needed to do this. Drought problems are testing farmers and crop growers, and household water tank deliveries are still flowing across the District – shifting at their peak about 1million litres of water per week to Kaipara households. Kaipara people have been doing really well through this drought challenge.
Next is the Covid-19 Coronavirus challenge. There’s no need to panic but there is a need for everyone to act clearly and early, just like when managing through the drought. I expect everyone has already got the message about the importance of hand-washing with soap many times every day, that soap breaks down the lipid/fat “skin” of the virus better than almost anything and then kills it. Don’t leave the tap running while you’re washing your hands, though - please keep water use down while we’re still in drought! Messages about social-distancing (keeping 1.5m away from other people) and avoiding large gatherings are now headed towards advice to self-isolate. Breathtaking speed of this evolving situation means that we’re all having to adapt fast and prepare for change. Quickly we’ll have to learn to live alongside the Coronavirus, to live with possibly distressing changes and to live with uncertainty.
For Kaipara District Council our approach is to maintain service levels as we go forward, and everyone should expect increasing communication as upcoming engagement events are changed or cancelled. “Action supported by communication” is what’s required from Council leadership to keep us rolling and to keep the community up with changing times.
One year ago I concluded my Mayor’s Memo following the Christchurch mosque tragedy with the hope that everyone would be a bit more kind in the community and that we would “grow the kind in Kaipara”. Those words remain important for us all now, too, in these uncertain times with the Covid-19 virus. I repeat: there’s no need to panic but there is a need for everyone to act. Look out for others, especially the elderly or vulnerable. Take care of community, friends and yourself – even if you’re isolated keep up the phone calls or video-calling, social media and connections and keep reaching out to each other. That’s how we can maintain resilience, keep on top of uncertainties and keep laughing together. Let’s grow the kind in Kaipara.
Nga mihi nui
Dr Jason Smith, Mayor of Kaipara District