Mayor's Message: Time for Te Tauihu o te Waka a Maui to get together

08/04/2022 9:32am

One of the things highlighted by our response to COVID-19 was that when serious issues arise in our community it is up to us to take responsibility locally for planning a response and getting action underway, writes Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese.

Central Government can set the framework, but the ‘how’ and ‘by whom’ needs to be delivered in a way that meets the needs of our people.

Our extended region at the top of the South Island – Te Tauihu o te Waka a Maui - Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough – exists to some extent in splendid isolation at the top of the island, and while everyone is familiar with our scenic beauty and our fine natural products from the land and the sea, it is all too easy for our voice to get lost on the national stage.

For all our strengths, our combined population is around the size of Tauranga, and as a combined region we form around 3% of the country’s population.

The good news is that we punch above our weight in terms of economic activity, producing around 5% of New Zealand’s GDP. The Nelson Tasman economy is one of the fastest growing parts of New Zealand with plenty of potential to lift productivity through innovation and collaboration.

However, I do think it is time for the three individual parts of the region to work together to formalise our partnership with Iwi to form a regional collective to represent our region.

We have a lot at stake in terms of the environment and creating a strong community and economy for future generations.

We need to build on the work of the Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy, especially as the Government is pressing for the development of regional leadership structures.

Let’s be clear, I’m not proposing another committee. We need a group with strong governance and leadership to provide a platform for robust discussion of important issues.

Our challenge is to respectfully get across and celebrate our individual communities, while at the same time embracing the higher objective to strongly represent ourselves.

We have an excellent example with the success of our Tasman Mako alongside many other activities.

Now is the time to take this to another level to make sure our voice is heard where it counts.

Ngā mihi