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Regional Council notes

December 9, 2021 December 2021, Regular Features No Comments

It’s hard not to reflect on the year just gone through Covid tinted lenses.  While New Zealand may have fared better than some countries up until now, it has proved impossible to keep the virus out and we are now facing the same challenges as others worldwide.  Covid has impacted on us all in everything we do.

2021 started with relative freedom for most but restrictions at the border posed problems for those that rely on foreign staff, both permanent and seasonal.

Local Government was no exception in feeling the labour pinch.  For Greater Wellington Regional Council this not only manifested itself in the much-publicised shortage of bus drivers but also in field work like planting and pest control.  Partnering with Iwi to build capability and provide a sense of place for young people will help address the shortage but for now there are no quick answers.

Covid has not only delivered a skill shortage but also impacted on how we do our day-to-day business.  Freedoms and rights that we once took for granted have been severely curtailed.  Attending meetings in person requires masks and social distancing and for GW public attendance is only via Teams or Zoom.  

At first it seemed that these video links were a godsend, saving both the time and expense of travel.  Now, eighteen months after the first lockdown and hours of Zooming behind us, it’s easy to recognise the pitfalls.  There is nothing quite the same as speaking to a person face to face.  The dynamic is different and no amount of video conferencing, texts, emails, Whats App or whatever can ever be an equal substitute.

The good thing is that technology has at least allowed us to carry on doing business at the governance level and continue decision making. If this pandemic had happened a few years back the whole system would have ground to a halt.

And what of the year ahead?  Covid19, the Traffic Light System and vaccine certificates will definitely influence how your local government can carry out its business.  Add into this mix the proposed changes to water services, the Resource Management Act reform and the local government review and one could be forgiven for thinking that local government ‘old style’ could soon be a thing of the past.

Still summer in the Wairarapa is ahead of us and for me folks, that is something to look forward to; especially if we get just enough rain to keep the grass growing.  Merry Christmas everyone.  See you in 2022.

Adrienne Staples

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