July 2018 - Chairman's Report

19 Jul 2018

Strategic issues

Biosecurity matters

The Government is to be complimented for its courage in taking the decision to try and eliminate rather than manage the effects of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Whilst I recognise that this is a controversial position for the Government to take, even in the eyes of the farming community, I am reminded of a similar but different biosecurity issue back in the 70s.  We had just about beaten bovine tuberculosis and we collectively ‘took our foot off the throat’ of the disease.  In the meantime, it got into the feral populations of possums, stoats, etc. and began reinfecting cattle and deer populations in many parts of the country.  Trying to regain control of this disease has cost many tens of millions of dollars and many years of angst for farmers, much of which could have been avoided!

We have one small window to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis and we should grasp it with both hands!

It is interesting to speculate just how much better off Northland would have been if someone had taken the initiative to deal with possums when they first began to spread into Northland!  We could have saved millions of dollars and huge amounts of damage to our flora and fauna with a bit of foresight.

Undoubtedly, the biggest issue for Northland right at this point in time is Kauri dieback.  The mighty Kauri is the symbol of Northland’s strength and integrity and this disease is threatening our very heart.  NRC and DOC teams are working frantically to try and find ways of dealing with the disease, but we are still struggling with a lack of effective tools.

Wild pigs have been identified as a significant vector for Kauri dieback, carrying the infection on their snouts and feet.  It is really disappointing that pig hunters and others continue to release pigs into the wild making the problem worse. 

Looking forward to some point in the future, I would not like to have to look back at my time in local government and say ‘I wish we had taken more and stronger measures to deal with the spread of Mediterranean Fanworm, Kauri dieback and Myrtle rust.’

Northland Transportation Alliance (NTA)

I am delighted that all four councils have adopted the NTA’s revised Procurement Strategy in their most recent council meetings.

The NTA has been under fire in recent weeks from a number of district councillors caused mainly by inadequate reporting of progress information to all councillors.  Hopefully those communication channels have now been properly opened up so that all councillors from every council know what is going on.  I will be keeping a keen eye on this.

The business case for creating the NTA clearly identified that it would take some time before the benefits of this new entity would really flow through into improved roads around the region.  Because the NTA entity is a first for New Zealand there is no readily available template or pathway that can be followed.  This is new ground!

Therefore, it is really important that we all keep our nerves as we go through the important establishment phase.