Hastings District Councillors were back around the table last week, Amy Shanks has the run down on the region’s important issues, from their first meeting of the year.

RSE workers return 

Hastings residents can expect to see RSE workers back in the community, as the horticulture and viticulture sectors gear up for harvest.

Hastings District Council CEO Nigel Bickle said the region was expected to welcome 78% of the first 2000 workers to arrive in New Zealand – as of this week.

In accordance with the region’s Labour Supply Plan, workers will arrive post quarantine and hit the ground running.

The plan was proposed to Government last year, to help combat critical seasonal labour challenges being faced by the horticulture and viticulture sectors in Hawke’s Bay, due to COVID-19.

“Industry leaders are saying we have enjoyed a fantastic response from students to help us get through all of the thinning, but a lot of work is going on around being prepared for harvest from February … through until May,” Mr Bickle said.

“Pleasingly, all the first intakes of RSE have started arriving into the country, the first planeloads arrived in on the 18th  of January, so it will be next week that we start to see the RSE’s post quarantine back in our community.”

Boost for Hastings housing 

Hastings is in line for a boost in public housing, with the Government revealing its purchasing intentions for the East Coast, with a “very strong,” focus on Hastings.

Announcements from the Government last week, included a commitment to implement Hastings’ Medium-Term Housing Strategy.

“A pleasing thing was to see last week was the announcements from the Government … in terms of the purchasing intentions of the decisions they made in last year’s budget, for an additional 8,000 public homes in New Zealand, of which a number are coming to the East Coast with a very strong focus on Hastings,” Mr Bickle commented.

Working with Government, iwi and community, Hastings District Council had already seen the impact a targeted approach in this area was having.

Mr Bickle had witnessed first-hand at an “individual whanau level,” the difference this work made for families falling out of the rental housing market or potentially “stressed to the max” about being homeless.

Hastings is set to host iwi leaders and Government Ministers at a National Maori Housing Conference on the 25th and 26th of February.

“One of the major presentations in that conference is the place-based work that has been led here in Hastings,” Mr Bickle said.

Havelock North reserve review  

A recommended review of four of Havelock North’s Reserves was moved by the council, following public concern around use of the tracks.

The proposal was put to Hastings District Council to consider Tainui, Tanner, Tauroa and Hikanui Reserves Management Plan (RMP), with a primary focus on the conflict between walkers and mountain biker users on the tracks. 

Concerns from the community regarding the RMP’s mountain bike component have been raised, prompting the Councils’ Parks team to recommend a review, four years before it was due.

The review would include public consultation and also address parking and access concerns at Keith Sands Grove, and any matters raised in an archaeological and cultural impact assessment, about to be carried out.

Booze ban for Good Vibes concert 

Police got their wish for a temporary alcohol ban in the areas surrounding Hastings Racecourse, to ensure a concert held there on February 27 will live up to its name.

Good Vibes was hosted at the Hastings venue for first time in 2020, attracting large crowds post COVID-19, and is scheduled again for 2021. 

This month’s concert will feature a seven-act line-up of some of New Zealand’s best-known and durable acts of the past 20-30 years such as Katchafire, House of Shem, Tomorrow People, Sons of Zion and more.

Hastings District Councillors moved to create a new bylaw prohibiting alcohol from being consumed, or brought into the venue or surrounding areas.

A temporary alcohol ban was already enforced during events such as the Spring Carnival race days, also held at the Racecourse venue.

A similar bylaw was implemented for a Six60 concert held at the A&P showgrounds in Hastings this month, that attracted nearly 20,000 people.

Signs will be erected on the streets effected, with anyone caught drinking eligible for a police fine for breach of an alcohol ban.

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