March 2019 - Chairman's Report

14 Mar 2019, 3:12 PM

Strategic issues

Kawakawa Hundertwasser

Bill Shepherd and Hon Shane Jones hongi.Hon Shane Jones (left) and NRC Chairman Bill Shepherd greet each other at Kawakawa's Te Hononga ceremony. (Photo: Sue Shepherd).

Attending the blessing of the Mauri stone for the Kawakawa Hundertwasser centre on 1 February was a big thrill. This project has been ‘on the books’ since around 2012, and it is great to see that it is now moving ahead.

When I compare Kawakawa with the town that existed 30 years ago, there is absolutely no comparison! I have total admiration for the way the town has pulled itself up by its boot straps, and equally I have no doubt that the new facility will be a great additional boost for the town.

Well done Kawakawa!

Provincial Growth Fund

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is proving to be a welcome source of much needed funds for many local projects.

The real challenge for the community groups and organisations that have been granted funding from the PGF is to ensure that those funds are well invested, and importantly that they are invested for the purpose that they have been granted.

Unless we all collectively ensure that the money is well spent, then the whole PGF concept will be discredited and it won’t last past the next election and that would be a great pity.

Financial markets

Over many years the council, with community approval, has subsidised rates from our investment funds and our dividend for owning shares in Marsden Maritime Holdings. The wobbles in the financial markets in the last quarter of 2018 have highlighted the risks for your council in becoming too dependent on those returns. Whilst subsidising rates with commercial returns is a laudable objective, we need to ensure that the council is not forced into having to curtail any community services or community projects through lack of cash from commercial returns.

So the council is in the process of determining a risk management strategy to deal with such situations in the future.

Fortunately, the markets have recovered somewhat in January and February, so some of the pressure has dissipated for now.

We live in interesting times!