The time has now come and we’re thrilled to have the date for the vote on local governance reorganisation set. The feedback we’re receiving is that the people of Hawke’s Bay are too.

Photo by Tim Whittaker

It’s been a long road to this point, and I’d like to take the opportunity to remind BayBuzz readers that amalgamation is just a stepping stone. A very positive stepping stone on the route towards a more productive and unified Hawke’s Bay.

Getting the amalgamation vote across the line won’t automatically fix the woes of the region. The 16th of September won’t see new and improved social statistics and a massive bump in permanent, well-paid jobs advertised. But an amalgamated regional structure will be a framework for improving the region’s prospects through governance which allows our consenting, environmental, economic and social planning to be cohesive and coordinated through a regional strategic plan. We’ll finally have the hardware to move Hawke’s Bay forward, together.

A Better Hawke’s Bay was established in 2011 when a steering group of Hawke’s Bay people formed with the distinct purpose of finding out why Hawke’s Bay’s performance was not equal to its vast potential, and how it could fulfill that potential.

Rebecca Turner

The group did not start out with the preconcieved notion that Hawke’s Bay’s councils needed to be amalgamated; we wanted expert evidence on what could and should happen here, and we were committed to seeing the project of encouraging regional improvement through. The resulting work (starting with the 2012 Winder Report, whose terms of reference were agreed by all five councils) made the case for local body reorganisation – or the creation of a single council for the region. And from there ABHB put a first proposal to the Local Government Commission so that they could explore better governance models for Hawke’s Bay, and the amalgamation process began.

The Local Government Commission’s final proposal is a compromise of the wishes and ideas of many from around the region. There may be elements you do not agree with. There are one or two that I do not agree with. But the reality is that this was always going to be the case with any proposal regarding the future of the entire region. Weaving together everyone’s opinion on a major idea is always going to involve compromise, and the LGC have come up with a pragmatic solution that balances the interests of all.

Now, with a final proposal for the amalgamation of the region’s five councils on the table and a referendum date set, it’s time to go back to the initial role of A Better Hawke’s Bay and focus on the terrific things our region could achieve with the efficiencies of a single council and the collaborative spirit of a united region.

Having consulted widely and worked for four years on what would make a better Hawke’s Bay, we’ve heard some fantastic, exciting suggestions. And we’re keen for more. We invite everyone to offer their thoughts on what an amalgamated council could deliver to Hawke’s Bay. We’ll then present these ideas to the incoming Hawke’s Bay Council as a blueprint for the region – for the people, by the people.

Read on to discover some of the ideas that have been offered up so far. And to have your say pop along to:

During the amalgamation campaign and debate, we have been asked what all this upset and effort is for. It’s not a grab at power, or change for the sake of it. It’s for a chance to make Hawke’s Bay the very best region it can be.

Today, for you, Hawke’s Bay, the status quo, might be working just fine. Maybe you personally are unaffected by the region’s economic doldrums and social ills.  But for many of our residents – and for your children and grandchildren – Hawke’s Bay could do much better, offer more opportunity, and be more prosperous
and inviting.

I implore you all to help our region move forward by sharing your ideas and by voting yes to a positive change. Let’s get there together.

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