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Mayor's column: Having a voice on national issues

The Central App

Mayor Tim Cadogan - Opinion

30 March 2024, 4:30 PM

Mayor's column: Having a voice on national issuesCentral Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan. PHOTO: File

Last week myself, councillor Tamah Alley and CEO Peter Kelly attended the Local Government NZ (LGNZ) Zone 5 and 6 conference in Christchurch. 

 

Generally, Central Otago District Council (CODC) has only sent the Mayor and CEO to these events, but Tamah joined us this time having been elected as Zone Chair for Zone 6 (all councils south of the Waitaki). This is a significant achievement as generally speaking these roles are held by mayors or regional council chairs and to see Tamah seize the opportunity and run with it was a pleasure.


 

CODC is well represented at a national level within the local government parent organisation LGNZ with me holding the National Council seat for Zone 6. 


There is real benefit to people from Central holding these roles as it allows our voice to be heard on national issues at a level it would not be if we weren’t part of LGNZ and didn’t put our hands up for these roles. 


For instance, mid-week I was invited to attend (by zoom) and speak at the board meeting of Taumata Arowai, the water regulator and as a result was able to describe to them the incredible cost being faced by our district in the space that they hold the regulatory role in. 



That board will undoubtably have the Government ear in this space and so them having the information firsthand of the mountain of cost we as a district have to climb to get on top of the regulatory requirements can only be good.

 

So back to Christchurch last week. We got to hear from and interact with a great range of speakers. 


Justin Tipa who is the new Kaiwhakahaere (chair) of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu spoke to us on matters of significance to our Treaty partners, followed by Owen Pickles who is the former Chief Executive of Chatham Islands Council. 


Owen gave his reflections on a local government career spanning 52 years, which started off with delivering papers to councillors on a bicycle. The change he has seen in the sector in his lifetime was remarkable to hear.

 

We then had two very important people you’ve likely never heard of speak and answer questions. Department of Internal Affairs Deputy Chief Executive Michael Lovett and Executive Director of Water Policy, Legislation & Stewardship Hamiora Bowkett spoke on the Local Government Work Programme under the new government. 



As we try to navigate the rough seas that is always created by a new government with new directions, this was a crucial presentation to get a better understanding of the best way forward.

 

Later on day one we had Infometrics Chief Executive and Principal Economist Brad Olsen give his view on the economic outlook for 2024 and its implications for local government.


He was followed by the minister for almost everything Chris Bishop (Minister of Housing, Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for RMA Reform, Minister for Sports and Recreation, Associate Minister of Finance, Leader of the House and MP for Hutt South) who spoke on Regional Infrastructure. 


Again, as we try to work out what lies ahead of us, being able to hear firsthand from one of the principal architects of the Government’s plans was invaluable.

 

The Minister of Local Government, Minister of Transport and Minister for Energy and Minister for Auckland Simeon Brown was guest speaker at dinner that evening and the comments about Minister Bishop above apply equally if not possibly more so for Minister Brown, given his Local Government portfolio.

 

The next day featured LGNZ President Sam Broughton, ACT List MP Cameron Luxton, two chaps talking about the Queenstown Lakes District Council Climate Group on work QLDC have been doing to reduce the carbon footprint of their infrastructure programme and Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative Oliver Hartwich on Localism. 


The event concluded with another minister, this time Mark Patterson who as Minister for Rural Communities, Associate Minister of Agriculture and Associate Minister for Regional Development obviously has crucial roles for us as a rurally based council.

 

In amongst all of this were crucial conversations with other mayors, chairs and councillors on the issues we all face.

 

A big couple of days, which for me show the value of our membership of LGNZ. 


As your mayor, I represent around 0.5 per cent of New Zealand’s population. It is hard to open doors in Wellington as a small-town mayor, so opportunities like those above to learn what plans the country’s masters have are absolutely golden.