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Highlights for region in tough year

Council today released its draft annual report for 2020-2021. The Delta virus may have produced one of the most challenging periods for the nation, but there were significant achievements that saw the financial year end strongly for Tairāwhiti.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says the whole region can be very proud of how communities came together when people needed it the most. “In the past year we have used all means possible to remain responsive and flexible to the needs of our communities while still delivering a massive amount of work,” says Ms Thatcher Swann.

That included the largest total capital investment programme ($78.6m) ever delivered by Council, over twice the normal level. The $23.6m Tairāwhiti Redeployment Programme saw 236 people into work, 977 training courses completed and a wider economic benefit of around $66.8m to the region. There was also a record $47m spent on roading upgrades thanks to investment from the Provincial Growth Fund.

“Both of these central Government-funded programmes focussed heavily on social procurement outcomes which supported and strengthened our local businesses making our region more resilient and better placed for future challenges.”

Both programmes have been recognised nationally for their success. Other highlights include investment and work in environmental projects like native tree planting, the restoration of native fish habitats, a strong commitment to anti-racism, the ongoing mahi in partnership with Ngati Oneone with Tītīrangi, the delivery of the new Long Term Plan (LTP), and township upgrades throughout the rohe.

Council has also progressed in its efforts to be a more meaningful and responsive Treaty partner with increased resourcing to Māori Responsiveness, a commitment to better governance relationships between Council and iwi partners, and the introduction of Māori wards.

Council is working hard to understand legislative change and reforms, particularly around the Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme, how that could impact Tairāwhiti and what the best outcome for the region would be.

Financially Council is in a strong position both in terms of debt and overall performance. Grants and Government investment has enabled the completion of projects that would have otherwise not been done and includes not only the roading network but also an acceleration of the Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme and redevelopment of the Kiwa Pool complex which will be renamed the Kiwa Pools when completed.

“Council finished the year on par with budget,” said Ms Thatcher Swann.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz reiterated Ms Thatcher Swann’s comments. “This has been an unprecedented year filled with challenges but we have come through it in a better place with stronger relationships within our community,” she said. “I am confident these will continue to grow as we work together to meet the challenges of this new era.”

Council will adopt the report at its meeting on Thursday 30 September.