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A special mix of vision, innovation and attitude drives the unique success of Central Otago’s communities.

Over the past month, my work has taken me across all parts of Central Otago to discuss a wide range of issues facing our region.

One of the privileges of being your local MP is that I get to meet with incredible people and groups that make this region so special.

The vision, dedication and ambition of our communities has led our region to grow rapidly, host unique and innovative businesses and become a world-leading tourist destination.

It was a pleasure to be able to show off Central Otago to my National colleagues Barbara Kuriger and Stuart Smith, who visited in their respective roles as energy, agriculture, viticulture and climate change spokespersons earlier this month.

We met with several groups, including winegrowers and orchardists who shared some of the challenges they are facing.

Among those discussed were water allocation regulations as well as ongoing staffing issues.

The need to address the border policies, which are seeing New Zealanders shut out of their own country and job vacancies pile up while migrant workers are also shut out, continues.

National has had wins in this area through the Government taking up our Covid contribution visa concept and we are committed to seeing more sensible policies taken up by the Government.

Immigration policies are bound to contribute to the Government’s murky response to the Delta outbreak and National continues to urge Labour to address this and provide the planning New Zealanders need to put the pandemic behind them.

Ending the MIQ lottery, most importantly for double-vaccinated folks, opening up New Zealand’s domestic and international tourism opportunities as well as allowing as many vital workers such as doctors, nurses, aged-care workers and horticultural and viticultural workers through our borders to fill vacancies is a priority.

When it comes to water, using a science-backed approach to assist the horticultural and viticultural sectors to continue to take advantage of innovations in irrigation practices to find the best possible outcomes for both our growers and the environment is essential.

Of course, irrigation and water use discussions are part of the reason water has never been such a prominent issue in Central Otago as it is right now.

If the Government took a similarly minded practical approach, our communities wouldn’t be facing the mandating of the Three Waters reforms, which 97% of councils across New Zealand don’t want.

National supports maintaining good-quality drinking water through the new regulator Taumata Arowai, as well as proper maintenance of storm and drain-water facilities.

The problem with Three Waters is that Labour’s overwhelming desire for centralisation has taken precedence over local input and common sense and turned the process into an asset grab.

National advocates for a localised approach that will support each community and their councils in maintaining their water facilities.

With a select committee process still to come, the recent mandating of the Three Waters reforms does not mean the fight is over.

Central Otago put itself on the map as both a leading international tourist destination and the home of cutting-edge businesses and innovation.

Who could insure that the needs of our communities are reflected in the maintaining of our water facilities better than our own community and its elected local body representatives?