Kia ora, Heralding spring this week are the kowhai blossoms fringing the Kaipara Harbour and found everywhere through gardens and forests, the calves and lambs on the farms and the earliest of the shining cuckoos which have made their annual return to summer in the Kaipara.
Watch the human visitor numbers increase from now, too. Some good news last week regarding how we support our visitors to Kaipara has seen Council successfully granted nearly $500,000 from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund for toilet and walkway development at Maungaturoto, Matakohe and Baylys Beach.
This was 100% of the amount sought, and these projects will be fast-tracked with this funding now in place. Getting on with the job of strengthening the connections between the community and Council, we’ll soon be introducing a People’s Panel for Kaipara District.
I’m delighted to introduce to you this idea which I first suggested for Kaipara back in March and now will be bursting into life soon. The idea is that at least 1000 self-selected Kaipara residents and ratepayers contribute their voice to local civic decisions through the Kaipara People’s Panel, a kind of online research forum to better connect Council with all our people.
Expect to hear more on this innovative idea soon. We need you to make this great, get ready to sharpen your pencils! Sharpening our minds right now are issues of climate change, specifically predicted sealevel rise and how it may affect low-lying Kaipara communities, towns and settlements. At a recent national symposium on Climate Change Kaipara District Council representatives challenged the organisers on how we move forward with a solid evidence base for decisions and raise the bar (as well as the stopbanks) at our place.
Punching above our weight in this subject is what we’re going to continue to do. As we go forward we’ll be sharing with the community all the information Council knows – and the gaps in that knowledge too. Together we’ll be making tools to cope with possible change as well as tools for hope. Kaipara people are resilient, creative and practical problemsolvers, and I reckon we’re in great shape to tackle anything. Whether you believe the sea level is rising or not, one thing we can all agree on is that the sap is rising right now! Enjoy your start to spring, and all the promise of the new season ahead.
Nga mihi nui, Jason Smith