August 2017 - Chairman's Report

17 Aug 2017, 2:11 PM

Strategic issues:

Local Government NZ Annual Conference

The Annual Local Government (LGNZ) conference was held in Auckland from 23–25 July. Traditionally the regional councils have held a pre-conference tour in a region in close proximity to the main conference. These preconference tours provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the work that the host regional council is doing and to share ideas.

Northland Regional Council hosted this year's preconference tour, demonstrating that your regional council is really making a difference in Northland highlighting the following projects: one of our recent Ballance Farm Environment Award-winning farms, one of our top performing Enviroschools, the work of our Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē (90 Mile Beach) Board co-governance relationship with FNDC and five Te Hiku iwi, the Hopua Te Nihoteatea detention dam at Maunu, our poplar and willow nursery at Mata, Northport, and the NIWA fish farming research project at Marsden Point. We received some very positive feedback from other regions impressed at what we are doing here.

Some of the conference highlights as seen through the eyes of my fellow councillors, Penny Smart, Rick Stolwerk and Joce Yeoman:

  • Six hundred delegates representing most of New Zealand's 67 local authorities, were present at the LGNZ Conference. Meeting many chairs, mayors, councillors, and discussing their region's issues was interesting, relevant to the issues we have in the North and valuable for future projects that we have in the pipeline.
  • The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor General, was the key-note speaker to open the conference and captured all the key issues for local government,community, engagement and democracy. A video of her speech and all those at the conference are available online on the LGNZ website.
  • Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, gave delegates a fascinating insight into what it takes to create great community infrastructure. While Melbourne is a very large metropolitan city compared to anything we have in Northland, the strategies he shared for creating great public spaces can be used for any community, regardless of size.
  • Motivational speakers representing private, business and local government organisations demonstrated that with the will and the energy to achieve, individuals can make inspirational changes against all odds. An example of each of these categories for reference is:

    a. Billie Jordan the founder of the Hip Op-eration Crew, an over 65 hip hop dance group formed on Waiheke Island. Billie has now launched her Hip op-eration Dance Academy in every country in the world.

    b. Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, a company specialising in disruptive strategy, and building the capacity of leaders to execute change. Holly is a futurist and global strategist.

    c. Sir Bob Harvey KNZM QSO, former Mayor of Waitakere and former Chair of the Auckland Waterfront development. An amazing example of what is possible in city revitalisation - a legacy project.

The conference also included smaller break-out sessions. The climate change session included group discussions looking at what councils around the country are doing in response to climate change. Interestingly, when it comes to mitigation measures, NRC is well ahead of the pack – our extensive electric vehicle fleet, solar panels to power those vehicles, and coastal hazard maps with current and 100-year risk using climate change predictions for sea level rise, being good examples. Find out more at

Bill Shepherd
Chairman, Northland Regional Council