A summary of the first months of 2023
It wasn't much of a summer (!) and the climate adaptation narrative went into full swing in our media as the extreme weather emergencies of Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle were being reckoned with. I feel for those affected and reflect hard on the challenge we're in of changing our ways to work 'with' nature, finding what wellbeing really looks like for us and become more - as is said a lot now - 'resilient'.
Councillors were kept busy in chambers for much of February and March with many workshops on things like setting this terms Strategy, getting everyone up to speed with the Coastal Plan review and new Freshwater Policy, as well as submissions to central government. See all our submissions here and questions are welcome.
The first round of committee meetings have been had, and decisions have been made on next year's Annual Plan budget and the new Strategic Direction that will guide our work for the next three years is approved. I'm really excited about it as climate action & wellbeing objectives are woven throughout and the next focus is on action to achieve it.
Other things that happened in the past few months:
I was appointed Co-Chair of the Wharekawa Coast 2120 Joint Working Party
I was appointed as the alternate member on the Future Proof Public Transport Subcommittee (the place to help implement the Regional Public Transport Plan)
I got to enjoy some social time with other women in politics during a fun evening out organised by Hamilton City Council Deputy Mayor Angela O'Leary
Several Councillors including myself looked at potential future railway stop sites for the Te Huia passenger train service (Pōkeno, Tuakau and Te Kauwhata)
The first couple of Local Government NZ Zone 2 meetings were held and I got to network with Councillors elsewhere in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions
Cr Angela Strange, Cr Tipa Mahuta and I joined Waikato Tainui for a half-day as their guests at Te Matatini to experience the event together in Auckland
Cr Stu Kneebone and I got up very early to attend the Rangiawhiao commemoration (learn more here as an example) which was very moving
Cr Stu Kneebone and I met up with some WRC staff at the Turangawaewae Regatta in Ngāruawāhia where they did well during some of the corporate races
Cr Tipa Mahuta and I started mentoring this year's TUIA mentee Kayla Waudby and attended the pōwhiri at their first wānanga weekend to start the programme
Cr Bruce Clarkson and I attended the recent Environmental Defence Society conference to get upskilled on the latest thinking in the environmental space
Cr Bruce Clarkson, Cr Pamela Storey and I attended an Enviroschools Climate Bootcamp at Pirongia Forest Lodge to get some insights from engaged teens (this was my second time as I also attended the one in 2022)
Several Councillors including myself went on a bus trip to learn about WRC flood protection and catchment infrastructure in the Waikato and Hauraki Districts
I went along to the B Corp Breakfast organised by Te Waka, as I'm very keen to see more great local businesses getting certified, as well as the Institute of Directors Waikato Branch AGM which had a great all-women panel speaking
In between, I caught up with people around Hamilton, chatting with constituents and spent a fair bit of time in nature, as well as staying up to date with the news and thinking about how to better connect with other Councillors around the country who want more climate action.
For regional Councillors I've put on monthly Zoom calls to exchange ideas and support, and for local district/city Councillors in the Waikato I've arranged two meet-ups so far this year; the first in Raglan hosted by Cr Lisa Thomson from Waikato District Council, and the second in Rotorua hosted by Cr Lani Kereopa from Rotorua Lakes District Council. I'm learning from others all the time and the feedback has been positive.
Climate Action Committee - the first meeting of 2023
I chaired this triennium's introductory meeting on 28 February 2023 where we endorsed a review to update our now 3 year-old Climate Action Roadmap and found out that the Regional Climate Risk Assessment project was hampered due to key staff being pulled away to help respond to Cyclone Gabrielle. An issue that ideally won't happen too often in the near future. Our inhouse emission reductions are still on track but there are more avenues that need to be explored as this endeavor matures.
WRC puts out a Policy Signals newsletter every quarter to provide updates on what's happening with legislation for those that want to know.
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