August 2018 - Chairman's Report

20 Aug 2018

Strategic issues

Local Government Conference and Regional Sector preconference tour

The Local Government New Zealand Conference was hosted by the Christchurch City Council in Christchurch on 15 July 2018.

Traditionally the member councils of the Regional Sector Group have a preconference tour looking at some of the local issues being dealt with by nearby regional councils.  The tour was hosted this year by Environment Canterbury.

Many of Canterbury’s water and soil issues are very different from ours in Northland.  However, seeing how they are dealing with their challenges helps us to understand the thinking that they have applied to meeting those challenges.  Canterbury’s water mainly comes from Alpine sources in major rivers and aquifers.  Their soils are gravel filled and porous, and as a result, nutrients leach very quickly into the groundwater.

One of the techniques that may have a direct application in the Aupouri Peninsula is their ‘aquifer recharge’ programme.  Essentially the technique requires construction of large gravel bottomed ponds, channelling excess irrigation into those ponds and allowing it to soak into the soil, thus recharging the aquifer.

Rubbish

Recent publicity surrounding the impact of plastics in our oceans and landfills has heightened community concerns about our use of plastic and the amount of ‘rubbish’ we generate.

Without wishing to downplay the impact of such solid waste it is important that we do not lose sight of the other aspects of the ‘rubbish’ that human activity generates.  In speaking to a couple of community groups recently I have taken the opportunity to encourage them to recognise that rubbish is way more than just solid waste. 

Human impact on the environment is not just about farmers either, it is about our whole community!  The way we manage our wastewater (urban sewerage and stormwater), dump solid waste like used tyres and appliances, introduce pests and biosecurity challenges, ignore the need to properly clean our footwear when we go into Kauri forests, breed and release pigs into the wild, transmit marine pests on the hulls of vessels, and so on and so on….  All these human activities have a ‘rubbish’ affect on our environment.

The need for vigilance from your Regional Council has never been more important!

From a personal perspective, I am really delighted with the community support that we have received for the big step up in environmental protection work that we signalled in our Long Term Plan.  We have received a few enquiries from ratepayers noticing the significant increase in rates when they have received their invoices, but to be fair we have actually received less than we would normally expect to receive.  Just another signal of the community’s support for what we are trying to do on their behalf.