So much has been talked about, but never achieved in Hawke’s Bay. With a clear and strategic plan we can focus our efforts on those things that will be better for the whole region, creating jobs and wealth and letting those people who love our region flourish here.
Some ideas have floated around, sometimes for decades, and have languished because councils could not work together. This is not to say that a Hawke’s Bay Council will go with all of them, but outlines some of the things the council could, and maybe should prioritise, when there is a single regional structure pushing Hawke’s Bay forward as a region, following a region-wide strategic plan.
Now is the chance for the people of Hawke’s Bay to present your ideas on what needs to happen in the region. You can put your ideas up at whatdoyouthinkhb.co.nz Some of the proposals that have been debated – and even agreed upon, but never advanced – are outlined below:
A university campus here?
Hawke’s Bay has limited paths for our senior students. There are few major employers who are willing to take on young people and offer them a clear career path. Schools find it difficult to tailor learning activities when there are limited jobs and careers for their students to go into. For students looking to go on to university training, the options are very limited in Hawke’s Bay – often these students go elsewhere for university education and never come back.
There is scope for a Hawke’s Bay Council to facilitate a university campus being set up in Hawke’s Bay, possibly in conjunction with EIT. At the moment Massey University has campuses in Wellington and Auckland as well as its main campus in Palmerston North. With Hawke’s Bay’s huge wealth of natural resources and some of the best food production in the world it makes a lot of sense for an agriculturally focused university to be attracted here. While Massey or Lincoln are obvious contenders, some of the Australian, US and UK-based universities are all looking to expand and we should be looking to bring them here.
Not only does a university campus in Hawke’s Bay give an option for our young people to stay here after school, but it will bring in a flood of other people; students and academic staff will all want to move to Hawke’s Bay to conduct research, study and work while enjoying our fantastic weather and lifestyle.
Better infrastructure to attract more tourists?
The Hawke’s Bay Council can work with central government to upgrade State Highway 38, and the council-owned sections, all the way through to Rotorua. This is a winding and partially gravel road that connects Rotorua with Wairoa and runs past the jewel in the crown, Lake Waikaremoana.
If the road was sealed and easily accessible for campervans and buses, it would create an alternative route through the North Island which would become increasingly viable. Tourists, after visiting Rotorua could easily travel to the beautiful Lake Waikaremoana and then head on to Napier, with time to visit vineyards, potentially adding bednights in Hawke’s Bay before heading south to Wellington and beyond.
Improve our fish stocks?
There has been considerable debate and conjecture that Hawke Bay is being over-fished and commercial fishing is to blame. The Hawke’s Bay Council could investigate the state of our sea fish stocks and consider lobbying central government to establish a commercial fishing moratorium for the whole of the Hawke’s Bay coast for a fixed period while these fish stocks rebuild.
We are renowned for the fly-fishing in our rivers and many locals enjoy fishing off our coasts. Having an unrelenting and coordinated focus on improving the state of our rivers will have a strong impact on freshwater fish.
Become a Centre of Excellence in food production?
By encouraging and attracting a university, plus other research institutions and major food companies here, we could see Hawke’s Bay become New Zealand’s centre of excellence of food production. Imagine different organisations all feeding off each other, bright people conducting leading food research along with the best farmers supported by major food companies. There is no reason why major multi-national food production companies do not set up and conduct research here, they just need encouragement.
At the same time we need to give serious thought to other issues that affect our marketing. Should Hawke’s Bay further embrace organics? Should we declare the region GE Free (can this even be done?)? Do we need to invest in more sustainable forms of energy and transport to further overcome the food miles debate? How could we embrace more intensive agriculture and water storage?
Review our social services?
Central government spends $800 million every year on social services in Hawke’s Bay, but no one knows how effectively it is serving the people of Hawke’s Bay. We should be able to work with the government to determine how much of that is discretionary (much of it goes to funding hospitals, teacher salaries etc) and then do a comprehensive review to make sure that it is being directed into the right areas to have the biggest impact.
Government spending is notorious for being poorly focused, representing political interests and being out of date. Lots of government interventions are not monitored to see if they are effective; some may actually be reflective of the needs of Hawke’s Bay twenty years ago rather than today. We may need to make some hard calls to scrap ineffective services so we can invest in services that are making a real difference and encourage innovation among providers.
Please add your voice, improving these ideas and adding your own, at: www.whatdoyouthinkhb.co.nz