September 2021 Insights

Even at local government pace it feels like the year is zooming by. With all the reforms to give feedback on, the already ambitious plans and the challenges plus uncertainties that come with wider delta-variant covid spread into the Waikato, its hectic and tough.


So, if you are engaging with other people in the next while please be as kind and courteous as you have strength for, and trust that everyone (including those in local or central government) are just trying their best to navigate through too.

 

Tackling Covid-19


I'm grateful we have expert scientists in New Zealand giving their reckonings on the public policy health response for free, because they know their shit and that's why I listen to them instead of some influencer on social media. I used to be a science communicator on the Science Media Center briefly once; they're good people.


Hamiltonians are rapidly becoming safer with as of a few days ago over 70% of people having had their first dose of the vaccine (and over 45% their second). I'm looking forward to improved efforts to reach Māori as coverage is just over 45% (and 25%).


I'm stoked to get to receive my second vaccination dose in the next few days, and urge anyone that hasn't got this layer of protection yet to go and do it too for yourself and your whanau and especially those in our community who are more vulnerable (our very young, or immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable health-wise or hesitant).


If you have any symptoms, here are the local testing stations you can go visit.

By the way, if you're taking the bus to get your vaccination then that's a free trip.

 

Local lens on climate action


Stats NZ released some 2019 carbon emissions data for the regions last week, and the Waikato footprint is pretty large - unsurprising, as we are home to the Huntly coal-fired power station and still have a large number of cows, beef and sheep for the agriculture industry. Herd sizes have been declining in recent years but this year we burned a record amount of coal for electricity demand so I'm sad to say that at least the next tow years of future data sets (2020 and 2021) are likely to be similar for our region.


Changes are needed to how we do things now, so that the next data sets for 2022 and beyond have a chance of telling a good story in regards to emissions peaking and then dropping. There are some great action-focussed conversations starting to happen, and organisational climate action plans coming out, that will enable that.


For example, two great local climate-action focussed initiatives that you can get involved with are the monthly Climate Action Hub events being hosted by Go Eco Environment Center in Frankton, and the first ever (hopefully annual) Waikato Climathon event (which includes warm-up events so please follow this on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn).



These will be great for building up a bit more of a diverse and collective group of everyday people who can push and create more local climate action initiatives either through their day-job or on the side. That's what is needed to get the pace of change picking up. If you know of some existing initiatives, please encourage the people behind them to come along to share their views and/or make some more friends by joining in.

 

More Public Transport Improvements


As a Waikato resident, it is highly probable that the biggest part of your household carbon footprint is how you get around from A to B. Both Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton City Council are putting a lot of effort into continually improving public transport options to be of good service & help resolve this.


One of the newest offerings being trialled is a corner-to-corner on-demand bus/van service, and due to the hugely positive feedback during Long Term Plan consultation, a multitude of improvements are coming to expand the Te Huia passenger train service in the near future that will really help embed this as the best option for Auckland and back.

 

Three-waters reform update


One of the main discussions at the latest council meeting on the 30th September was for us to land on an interim position statement on the three-waters reform. It's not proving to be very popular, despite that the great majority agrees that the status quo isn't working and communities deserve a better system delivering better infrastructure.


If you are keen to get up to speed with what this very vocal local government spat with central government on this is really about here is a good summary to read. Ultimately, the reason I agreed to urge for a pause on the reforms (although hopefully only briefly) is because our communities and politicians need to better understand them better so they can be designed/negotiated together to get the best outcome for all.

 
Coming up in October

You can see the agenda's available a few days beforehand and/or ask me about any of them before/after. All our meetings are audio-visually recorded and placed on the website within 3 working days of the meeting having occurred.

  • Waikato Raupatu River Trust & WRC Co-Governance at 10am on 1 October

  • Contracts Committee at 9am on 5 October

  • Finance & Services Committee at 10am on 5 October

  • Lake Taupo Protection Project Committee at 1.30pm on 7 October

  • Strategy & Policy Committee at 9.30am on 12 October

  • Tūwharetoa Maori Trust Board & WRC Co-Governance at 10am on 15 October

  • ICM Committee - EIF Funding Round at 10am on 21 October

  • Full Council Meeting at 9.30am on 28 October - we are planning to livestream this meeting so keep an eye out on my social media for a link to this!

The meeting I'm most looking forward to so far is the ICM Committee meeting where this years funding will be decided for a range of community group initiatives under the Environmental Initiatives Fund.


By the way, if there is ever anything you'd like information about from our council, you can email me to find out, or ask yourself via the official information process (described more colloquially here).

 

This monthly insight has been put together to help you:

  • Learn more about local government relevant to Hamilton and the Waikato

  • Stay up to date with climate action and other interesting topics

  • Engage more through prompts to have your say at the right time

Please share this monthly update with others & follow on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. All feedback is very welcome.


Ngā mihi nui,

Jennifer