With the outcome decided, politicians will continue posturing, council officers will continue planning and drawing up policies, interest groups will continue fighting for funds and a place on the priority list, but hopefully we’ll all be ready to move on and start getting stuck into building our future. We’ve had our say, and we’ll be rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the real work: making stuff happen.

The debate has stimulated people to think about what this region needs to take it into the future. Is there any consensus on what we need to do next?

BayBuzz reporter Jess Soutar Barron asked some of the great and good of Hawke’s Bay about their big ideas for the region: What happens next? What projects and plans should we pursue? Where do our priorities lie? For some the answer is short, sweet and focused: on youth, or jobs, or tourism. For others it’s more complex and involves shifting thinking, uniting strategies and trying to successfully unpick some of the wicked problems we find before us.

Whatever their official portfolio – some in business, some in the arts, a few in politics, some in community wellbeing – all those who contributed ideas wear multiple hats. They are typical of the people who will get things started, put in the work, make things happen, see projects through. They are the motivators, employers, influencers, innovators, thinkers and leaders who will push Hawke’s Bay to be its very best.

Tracee Te Huia, General Manager Maori Health HBDHB

The gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ needs addressing. Hawke’s Bay is one of the most beautiful regions in Aotearoa yet it has some stark health and social statistics despite best efforts of all sectors. Children shouldn’t be looking for their next meal and filling old detergent bottles with hot water to keep warm. They shouldn’t be coming into hospital at the age of 14 to give birth and they certainly shouldn’t be battered and bruised by those that are responsible for their safety.

My big idea is that elected representatives, local MPs and CEOs of key organisations come together to form a governance group that agrees a key set of priorities for Hawke’s Bay’s most vulnerable and focuses on them.

The Governance Group would establish one centralised hub that would coordinate the health and social response to vulnerable populations and their families. Provider organisations would be linked to ensure the funding, delivery and monitoring of outcomes is explicit and accountable. Success would be warmer housing, more household funding, more kids staying in school and higher level qualifications being achieved. If we work together to change the environment in which these families live in, then we would create an opportunity for breakthroughs in our current results. If we begin with what matters most to these families then they will engage and respond. If we don’t re-engage them back into society and make them feel included we will need more prisons, mental health units and detention centres. These families have potential for developing and succeeding we just need to see this for ourselves and respond accordingly – that’s the game changer. The opposite of addiction is not ‘sobriety’, it’s connection.

Paul Paynter, CEO Yummy Fruit, Company, cider maker

Asking what Hawke’s Bay must do is a bit like asking a Miss Universe contestant: “If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?”

People have always liked to fantasise that we might live in a benevolent dictatorship where, if politicians would only do the right things, the world would be a regular abode of bliss. But no one has the glorious solution for our woes, much less the authority to put it in place. I sure don’t want to hand over the cheque book to well meaning do-gooders to have a go.

From a local government perspective, the objectives are all about refinement: harmonising rules, looking for efficiency gains and the better allocation of resources. If I had to offer an idea for my backyard I’d say stop building all these fancy parks, cycle lanes and even potential trams in Havelock North and spend ALL this money in Flaxmere and Camberley. Rich people take their kids to the necessary places in their second BMW, but for the less well off, easy access to resources and facilities is critically important.

Rachel Cornwall, Owner, Red Consulting

The answer does not lie in one silver bullet. Stop pinning all hopes on big projects, and large corporates riding over the Ruahine Ranges to save the economy.

Collectively we need to think like a main centre now. Individually we need to stand on our own two feet. Ask for excellence from our teams. Don’t try and be everything to everybody. Encourage single minded focus. Be a little selfish and drive growth out of that focus.

Celebrate our leaders. Foster fresh and diverse leadership.

Create centres of excellence – we already have national leaders based here in horticulture, viticulture and the red meat sector. Position around these and develop them further.

Encourage more ethnic diversity in the workforce, look beyond the current demographics. Hire the millennial child. Hire future leaders, commit to developing them within your business. Succession planning is confronting but your future may be in your next hire. Don’t feel threatened by them. Create a culture of success and excellence that centres on customer need – and deliver to that.

Kim Thorp, Owner, Black Barn and ad man

I think our first ‘must do’ as a coordinated region is to focus on skilled job creation – particularly for younger people. It feels to me the epicentre of this should be based on well-entrenched Hawke’s Bay fundamentals rather than plucking random employment trends out of the sky.

To me this epicentre is food production, which for a wealth of good reasons has been at our heart for decades. I think our opportunity is to then closely link this to tourism – another huge and unrealised opportunity for young, skilled job growth. There are few more exciting growth trends in the world at the moment than the appreciation of high quality natural foods with great provenance. From growing and exporting, to training and education, to wining and dining, to attracting visitors it is an area where we could be globally famous, be true to our roots and be a hugely exciting region in which to work, learn, live and play.

Paul Bailey, Green Party Candidate for Napier

Regardless of the amalgamation vote I think local bodies need to work on improving transparency and consultation. Statutory obligations should be seen as minimum standards, and not the target. Any bureaucrat that imagines that Lord Market will provide the best solutions needs to be put out to pasture.

Hawke’s Bay needs to work out how it is going to adapt to climate change without the use of industrial solutions. We need a strategy on how to move our economy away from being commodity based, to being value based. As a community we need to work out what our common values are around issues such as water and energy.

There are no big bang project solutions. There are hundreds of small projects which will make our economy resilient. We should celebrate and strengthen being an SME economy. Not work towards being a corporatocracy, which only increases inequality between businesses and individuals.

Dr Russell Wills, Pediatrician and Children’s Commissioner

Every child in Hawke’s Bay deserves the opportunity to achieve to their potential. However we all know that far too many do not. Too many Hawke’s Bay children arrive at school not ready to learn and without the skills to listen, learn and make friends. Too many leave school without qualifications and are not in education, employment or training.
Whatever the result of the referendum, I would like to see us come together – local government, education, social services, health, iwi and business leaders – to do whatever we can to ensure that all children in Hawke’s Bay achieve.
Imagine the power of a single plan that brings us all together with the vision of Hawke’s Bay being a great place to be a child. Who wouldn’t want to live there? Who wouldn’t want to do business there? I know I would.

Andrew Frame, Blogger and political commentator

Hawke’s Bay needs to stem the flow of their talented youth leaving the region. The number of 10-20 year olds in Hawke’s Bay is greater than the number of 40-50, or 50-60 year olds. But there is a massive demographic canyon between those sets of figures.

That’s because each year over 1,500 Hawke’s Bay youth finish high school, with around 80% of those leaving the region – mainly for further education. Most never return.

As a region we need to do more to empower and encourage our youth to stay in Hawke’s Bay. We need to make it worth their while.
Minimum wage retail, seasonal and hospitality jobs are far too fickle and low-paying to be attractive. So let’s institute ‘earn as you learn’ initiatives: apprenticeships and paid internships in all facets of Hawke’s Bay business!

If our councils are prepared to put around $2 million into attracting tourists to the Bay for a day or two, imagine the social and economic benefits of a similarly priced programme to retain more of our youth here in solid, well paying work for the whole year!

Chris Perley, Consultant / writer in land use policy and practice

Hawke’s Bay could continue to focus on competing with the Third World by being a cheap producer of a few volatile commodities; to ‘trade off’ the environment and work standards to benefit fewer and larger outside-owned corporations; and to ignore the risks of our market, energy and climate futures.

Or we can think strategically about creating, multiplying and retaining value, and managing for those future risks. The quality and diversity of what we produce matters far more that the cost of production, so anything that reduces the Hawke’s Bay brand such as GE, we reject. We focus on diversity down and across value-chains, on easy start-ups for locally-owned quality SMEs; these are our champions that ensure any value multiplies and stays local.

We position ourselves as a great environment, with great quality, high priced goods and services, and a community that loves culture, creativity, discussion and action over hierarchy, control and media spin.

The challenge is to have community, local government and business work together and to refocus on strategic thinking rather than short-term expedience, and to see our culture, environment and economy as dependent on each other. The future of degradation is a colonial Third World status.

Tim Turvey, Winemaker, Clearview Estate

Hawke’s Bay needs to become an exciting place to live and work.

I don’t mean Art Deco, great weather, beaches, wineries, food outlets, etc; we already have these. We need to emulate Queenstown as an adventure tourism destination as we do have the weather for most of these outdoor pursuits. Here are ten ideas:

  1. A flying fox, luge or similar off Te Mata Peak
  2. Some amazing cycle runs
  3. A wave/surf park on the Marine Parade
  4. Sky wire, canyon swings, zorb etc
  5. Bungee
  6. Waterslides
  7. Big game fishing
  8. Water-skiing –either boat or motorised wire
  9. Motorsport passenger rides or 4WD-off road rallying
  10. Quad bikes to the cape/airboats up the rivers & swamps

Neil Barber, Owner Masonic Hotel, Chair of Hawke’s Bay Tourism Industry Assn, Board member Art Deco Trust and Napier City Business

We need to significantly increase the economic contribution of tourism to the Hawke’s Bay Region. Hawke’s Bay Tourism in conjunction with its stakeholders has developed an exciting seasonal plan to achieve this goal. A plan which will allow all elements of our varied and attractive region to be channelled into a cohesive and compelling campaign, which will increase our appeal to potential visitors.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have listened to the arguments and provided additional funding to enable an increase in our marketing activity outside the region to attract potential visitors. Now is the time to make it happen, by all councils (if we still have them) committing their marketing and promotional resources towards following a single region-wide strategy led by HBT. We want our share of the projected growth in New Zealand’s Tourism industry. It is time to ‘Get Me To Hawke’s Bay’.

Richard Brimer, Photographer

My big idea would be the protection of our coastline; this is quite important to me as being a resident of Te Awanga for over 30 years I have become quite attached to it! I like the idea of an artificial reef as it would not only give protection but would create surf and safe beaches, which will bring people. We live in a beautiful part of the world and I would hate to see it wash away.

Graeme Avery, Owner, Sileni

Hawke’s Bay needs to focus on bigger projects. By doing that we can maximise our economic and social potential. Our future can be about innovation, new technologies and new values but we need to let go of the past. In 20 years Hawke’s Bay could have a university with faculties for world leading agri-business, Asian studies and tourism research and education; two four-star plus hotels; a major convention and conference centre, an airport with a jet-capable runway of appropriate length and associated facilities; a major food company; a major kitset-type furniture manufacturing company – the Asia/Pacific export hub, for example, for IKEA; an incubator for start-up IT companies to focus on agri-business.

If we can tick several of these boxes, the people of Hawke’s Bay really will have achieved something. We would be moving forward with the rest of the world.

Roger King, Chair, Creative HB

I want to see immediate progress to protect the most vulnerable places on the coast. I dream of a Hawke’s Bay that actively supports creative entrepreneurs, and encourages a raft of New Zealand (and international) creatives to live and work in the region. Alongside that I want each Hawke’s Bay community to have its own voice, while the council pressures the government into significantly, and positively, providing regional development support.

At a more local level one of the greatest things we have here is an opportunity to create some meshing between creative activity and the business world. What innovation and creativity bring are new ways of thinking and some of those value-adding success factors that business is so hungry for. That intersection between creativity and business is essential and will become much more potent in the future. Businesses that don’t have it and don’t engage with it will ultimately fail. Until Hawke’s Bay is cohesive in both its internal and its external approach these kinds of development opportunities will never happen, but once it gets its act together this could be the very thing that sets us apart.

Nic Magdalinos, Managing director, PMA Architects

We need not focus on one project but many. To lift the performance of the region we need to have effective leadership. We need to be singing from the same song sheet and have a collective focus to recognise our potential.

To ensure our continued relevance, we cannot perpetuate the status quo; we cannot be reliant on any one sector or a single opportunity.

We must exploit our natural assets, our desirability as a tourist location with an enhanced business sector, which can offer employment opportunities that are equal to the lifestyle opportunities.

It is our people that make our community; accordingly we need to focus on creativity, ingenuity and enhancing our skill base.

We need to adopt a sales mentality.

We must sell our region; we must sell and grow our human capital, we must be dynamic and able to react quickly to the national and international economic drivers to create momentum and growth.

I am sold on Hawke’s Bay and its potential – and believe that collectively with vision and leadership we must sell our region’s opportunities, assets and creativity.

We have the infrastructure and the talent and now need the vision and the drive.

Marie Dunningham, Grey Power

Let’s cut the jargon first. “A better future for you, your kids and the region.” Yeah right. “To move forward” – to where? “For the region to fulfil its vast potential”. Weasel words with no substance. So, the nitty gritty:

Savings, unity, a regional view, sustainability, sharing, protection of the environment, more production but with regard to the effect on the district, no unnecessary duplication, no bitter parochial infighting, simplicity of transaction costs and an improved governance structure.

Yes, I expect better regional governance. I don’t expect better leadership. That is up to voters. And, so far, our voters are few, tend to vote for a known name and are ill-informed about the qualities the candidates bring with them when they stand. So, if we get more of the same I won’t be surprised.

I expect real savings but I don’t expect to see it in my rates bill. Any savings would be better spent on council work. Since when did your rates ever come down?

I expect projects like the Ruataniwha dam to be discussed regionally, to be in the best interests of the whole region, environmentally and financially before they go to the public, before they go to court and before they cost the ratepayer millions before they even begin.

I would hope to see far better environmental coordination. I want to see all our rivers cleaned up and cared for.

I don’t expect much improvement in the lives of those who are low income or jobless. But I do expect such an improvement to be a goal. New jobs don’t always go to those who need work.

I would hope to see much better co-operation between the two cities so that they are complementary. For instance a co-operative roles for both art galleries.

I would hope to see Hastings Opera House fixed, whatever the cost. We should be proud of it regionally as I think we are of the architecture of Napier.

Claire Vogtherr, Owner, Holly Bacon

One Plan, one vision for the whole of Hawke’s Bay, one regional LTCCP , one centralised consistent regional consent process. Continued joint development of the successful regional promotion for economic, tourism and business growth.

We may or may not have a unified governance structure post vote, but all in power, whatever that might look like, must work together with an understanding of the absolute necessity to achieve consistency of goals and planning as Hawke’s Bay – not Napier, Hastings, Wairoa or Central Hawke’s Bay. One vision, one agreed plan, so that all collective resources can be put into achieving the growth and recognition our beautiful region both deserves and requires.

Those working to unite Hawke’s Bay behind a shared vision and purpose do not need the dissenters to agree with them, they simply need to continue to move forward making every decision as one Hawke’s Bay until it simply becomes reality.

Anna Lorck, PR practitioner and Labour candidate for Tukituki

Jobs for locals first: this must be a key target for our region, to get our young people into work early and upskill our workforce so Hawke’s Bay people get the jobs when they flow from a booming apple industry and food growing region.

I want to see more private/public partnerships that support businesses who commit to employing locals first, and do more to show our future generation that no matter where you come from there is always something better out there, if you are prepared to work for it.

Alongside this we also need a migration strategy to attract greater investment and bring more business to be based in Hawke’s Bay, as part of regional economic development. If we tackle these two challenges and get them working in tandem, Hawke’s Bay has every opportunity to lead regional New Zealand, and the country.

For this progress to happen we must also ensure fresh thinking, positive attitudes and strong leadership to lead the charge for change, with people who can take our region forward. I do hope all councillors who have served more than 12 years, which is a significant contribution, seriously consider making way for new leaders, and any who have been there longer than 16 years retire.

Simon Tremain, Managing director, Tremains Real Estate

So, we are post-amalgamation and I am more than hoping we are now one BIG combined region with one BODY making decisions for our amazing province.

There are so many ideas for the economic growth of Hawke’s Bay but for me it all makes so much more sense if we look at these with a regional focus. What is best for our region, not for the individual cities.

It is near impossible to achieve my ‘wish list’ without amalgamation but here goes:

  1. Everything from development levies to dog licenses are applied for under the same rules and regulations across our region. Let’s work at local government level on saying YES to opportunities and look at how we make things happen for our people and those that want to live here.
  2. When a major corporation/strategic opportunity such as Jetstar comes to our region they only need to see ONE body to ensure they are given the very best options available and get to see the region’s key influencers. Jetstar must be part of Hawke’s Bay and we must win their business.
  3. The Ruataniwha Dam must go ahead in some form with financial sustainability key to long term success, but short term risk is required. This project is huge for the region and key to bringing employment and growth into our rural population.
  4. The Hawke’s Bay Sports Park and the huge goals set by Bruce McTaggart and his team are inspiring and visionary – let’s embrace them and deliver more and more events for the region. Everyone loves to visit the Bay – let’s bring them in and keep them coming back.
  5. Let’s drive new social housing developments with government funding and personal ownership giving our lower socio-economic communities aspirations.

Tania Kerr, Farmer

We must start at the top, with one shared vision of what Hawke’s Bay wants to achieve, where Hawke’s Bay wants to position itself in the world and what Hawke’s Bay wants to be known for. Not just for next year but for the next 10, 20 and 50 years.

Each community needs to contribute to this vision, as it should include not just large regional goals but local goals as well. Then we need to follow with a plan of how we get there. Our planning must be coordinated rather than pulling in five different directions. As a single population of over 150,000 people (the 5th largest in NZ) we will have much more ‘clout’ than our five individual councils.

I would like to see one chief executive for all of Hawke’s Bay. That individual is then charged with the responsibility of making the vision and plans happen. We must make changes, as the status quo structure is not acceptable.

Michael Whittaker, Owner Te Mata Mushrooms, Hastings Business Assn Chair

We need to focus on attracting more people to come and move to Hawke’s Bay. The region needs to promote itself as a
great location to live, work and play, we need to market ourselves as NZ’s best provincial option.

Central Business District revitalisation is dear to my heart and both cities need to do more to create city centres that people want to come and work, shop and be entertained in. CBD vibrancy is critical and we need to do a lot more to ensure that our city centres thrive not die!

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