Posts tagged ‘Wairarapa’


Regional reform explained, animated and in less than 90 seconds

30.04.2013

I’ve already had my say on regional reform but I’d like to encourage everyone else to. I favour Wellington including Wairarapa, as I’ve outlined earlier, but regardless of what I say, it’s important to hear from as many people in our region as possible. And if you don’t like my long blog posts, above is a great animation summarizing a lot of the relevant issues, produced by my friends at Mohawk Media.
   After you’ve watched it, head over to this form to put in your thoughts. Only three answers need a bit of writing—the rest is clicking buttons. Submissions close May 3.

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Posted in New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 2 Comments »


Bridging the Rimutaka divide: Wellington needs Wairarapa

26.04.2013

In an interview today, the subject of regional reform and amalgamation came up. There’s quite a good site already seeking feedback on the process, and I’ve taken part in a 2012 forum on the subject as well.
   In 2010, the mood in Wellington, based on those I met in the campaign, seemed to be set against amalgamation. There were some suspicions, and I have to say I was among them: I could not understand how a Herald headline could proclaim it was going ahead when the article beneath simply stated that the Royal Commission had recommended the “super-city” as one of its options.
   But, as John Shewan told me before his retirement from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Auckland has found some real savings through amalgamation, wearing an apolitical accountant’s hat in his analysis.
   In the 2012 forum, the opposition to merger seemed weaker. There were many who were concerned at the loss of representation—we had been taught that flat management structures are more efficient, and this seemed to go against that instinct. However, some felt that amalgamation made sense—but of those, the Wairarapa seemed to be another world, and that maybe we should let them do their own thing.
   I have been wondering about the opposition to the Wairarapa being part of a larger Wellington. I know people there, and they don’t think much of grabbing train ride south to head into town. It’s less of an obstacle to come here than to, say, Napier, which is where some of the people at the 2012 forum felt it had a closer kinship to. In the times I’ve been north of the Rimutaka divide and talked to locals, I can’t say they feel that.
   The concern among those in Wellington might be driven by geography. That’s not an easy road to drive. I’ve seen Shaker Run. And does that mentally stop us from embracing the Wairarapa as readily as we should? Sure, we love those Martinborough wines, but isn’t it such a trek?
   Yet when you look on a map, Lake Ferry, which you can only get to via the Wairarapa, is far closer to us than anywhere else. Good luck telling a foreign visitor—or even an investor—that that’s not part of our region. And when I think of Martinborough and Wellington, I can’t help but draw a parallel with Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. It just seems a natural fit when it comes to marketing a region, and that if we’re saying that Wellington loves diversity, then is it so hard to accept a rural component right next door to us?
   But here’s why my thinking is really leaning toward inclusiveness: New Zealand’s industry is still largely primary products-based. People like me can talk all we like about growing our technological and creative sectors, and that is still something to aim for. We still need to do it. However, it won’t happen overnight. Right now, and even for the next generation, we’d be mugs to discount the Wairarapa’s rural base because that’s an important part of our economy. We also need to consider the land out there, too, and help make use of it effectively at a macroeconomic level. If people want reform, and if that includes merging councils, then I think we’d be poorer without the Wairarapa as part of Wellington.
   Our GDP, as it is, isn’t great: in fact, The Dominion Post revealed earlier this week that Wellington city’s GDP is flat. I did predict this in 2010 and said that we needed to nurture businesses properly.
   Is it, then, a change of mindset that we need? We can already see how the Bay Area in California is marketed: there are bridges to take those from the City northward to Napa and Sonoma. We have a less than ideal road and a rail link, both of which are being improved. With more Wellingtonians focusing on the work–life balance and enjoying everything from Toast to the air shows, those old “them and us” attitudes seem to be waning anyway. Maybe it’ll just take a different type of marketing to feel closer to our Wairarapa cousins?
   At the end of the day, it should be up to the people to decide. However, if we are to do so, then we must have all the facts. Right now, I’m not alone with these thoughts: this website outlines even more reasons the Wairarapa should stay with Wellington. And the Palmer report noted last year, ‘We believe Wairarapa to be an important part of the Wellington region and that its future prosperity would be adversely affected were it cut off from the region.’ I’d be happy to host a discussion—either here, on my Facebook group where your thoughts are welcome in refining my mayoral campaign manifesto on this website, or, if schedules allow, offline.

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Posted in branding, business, culture, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 1 Comment »