“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…….….”

Charles Dickens knew a thing or two using his opening statement to show the similarities between the sensibilities of the people of the late 18th century and Dickens’ own Victorian readers.  I, (well, not actually me, but a jolly good writer) could have written the same passage today – people’s attitudes to our times are often divided into best and worst with all the balance missing.  Listen to too much of it and one might be similarly sucked into the raging mass and common sense disappears into the vortex.

And so it can be with Napier and Hastings. Much has been talked about what the cities don’t do and what they should do (terrible word ‘should’, I’d prefer it to be deleted from usage – think about it)  but a lot less about what they actually do.  Two cities, two different functions, two different communities, two separate infrastructures occupying land in the same region.  Unique in New Zealand and a huge selling point for residents and immigrants from more populated countries who love the idea of living where they want and working in either city.

Napier and Hastings are 16 kilometres apart but together in many ways – here are some of them.

The Heretaunga Plains Roading Study 2004 sets out the Hawke’s Bay roading needs and priorities for the future.  All councils are party to it and the substantial work and agreements that provided the framework for this were groundbreaking in New Zealand.  Napier and Hastings will use this information to jointly work up a growth plan for Hawke’s Bay and build on this to eventually combine all the elements of our District Plans that we hold in common.  For the man on the street this means certainty in planning for the future and consistency in rules and regulations within a framework that encompasses our two areas.

The Airport and Oamaranui Landfill are held jointly by both Councils and decisions made together on the future of both.  We consider these assets as important infrastructure for the region; both need careful management to ensure sustainability.  Similarly we are working together on our new wastewater strategy Biological Trickling Filters after previous investigations proved it was not as feasible to build a joint plant.

The gin shops of Dickens’ time had no restrictions on them but we work jointly today with Liquor Licensing to ensure the gin drinkers of 2am don’t travel from one city to another in search of more when the bars have closed in one.  A lot of our regulatory functions are joint initiatives and these are often our health and safety guidelines – littering, needles, cleanliness of premises, youth safety, community patrols, safer cities.

The treasures of Hawke’s Bay are held by the Cultural Trust, funded by Napier and Hastings.  Security, conservation and management of these are the functions of the Trust and the whole of the region benefits by the access to both the treasures and the skills of those employed to look after them.

Hawke’s Bay Inc. and the more hands on management of economic development are collective initiatives and all the more successful because of it – think the NZ Expo work that has seen 60 new working migrants here each year.  Pettigrew Green Arena and the Rugby World Cup are just two significant sporting areas which have involved funding and managing from both cities.

Very few things in this world are perfect and I give thanks for that.  Focusing on what we can do better is great if it has practical improvement implications.
Remembering  what we actually do better helps if we want to move from the spring of hope to a Christmas of happiness.  Joy to you all.

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