There’s all sorts of unity, solidarity and community spirit going on around Hawke’s Bay at the moment. It seems that a crisis can bring out the best in us.

Whether it’s The Rapa Feed Run donating and delivering hundreds of bales of feed to our drought-stricken farms, or the volunteers delivering food parcels from the foodbank, or our incredible Tihei Mauri Ora network, which mobilised into households all around the region via our Taiwhenua networks. People are helping people.

They have rolled up their sleeves.

And it makes me think. Right now there is so much talk about money. Investment in infrastructure. “Shovel ready” projects. $50 billion of national debt. Rates cuts. Pay cuts. Recession.

But the magic of how we came through the pandemic emergency was about people. Why aren’t we talking more about people?

I want to inspire our people of Hawke’s Bay to be the best they can be – those innovative, hard-working, loyal people who will ultimately create our success. I want to encourage them to step out and do something that they might not have considered before. And to do it because they are proud of our place, and proud to contribute to building something better for our future.

I am issuing a challenge. A challenge to every person in Hawke’s Bay to find a way to contribute to a legacy for our region.

It might be swapping a barista’s apron for some gardening gloves and a shovel to plant natives in our regional parks. It might be donating to the Hawke’s Bay Foundation to ensure financial support for our community organisations. It might be adding an extra cadet role into your business – one specifically for a local person to earn while they learn. It might be picking up your business and looking to invest in a part of Hawke’s Bay where you haven’t operated before – how about exploring a retirement village in Central Hawke’s Bay? Or an orchard in Wairoa? Is there a coffee caravan in Tikokino?

It might be that you learn how to fence so you can be part of the massive efforts on our farms to fence waterways and create new riparian and wetland areas. It might be that while you work in a pest-control crew you learn about ecology and biodiversity so you can become a DOC ranger or can teach your whanau new ideas on how to look after the whenua.

Everyone has something to offer Hawke’s Bay – big or small. Whether it’s that rubbish you pick up as you go for your daily walk, or a change of occupation forced by the changing economy — we have an opportunity to make a difference for the whole of Hawke’s Bay by the actions that we take now.

I want to challenge you to think outside the square and to DO something. We don’t need more commentators, critics or idealists. We don’t need more people dependent on our welfare systems. We need people to roll up their sleeves and invest their time, creativity and energy into our region.

I know you can do it.

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