Much to be proud of in challenging year
Though it hasn’t been easy by any stretch, 2021 is a year the Central Otago region can be proud of.
For glaringly obvious reasons, I am sure many are looking forward to putting a challenging and frustrating twelve months in the rearview and moving on to a prosperous 2022.
However, there is plenty to celebrate before we say goodbye to a most unique year in our region’s history.
It is hard not to be proud of the kindness, determination and togetherness of our communities that saw Central Otago through lockdowns, business shutdowns and restrictions.
The innovation, adaptation and downright determination our region is known for helped the local economy make the best of what has been an extremely challenging 12 months.
And when asked to rally together to get vaccinated to help protect everyone and get our lives, our economy and our extremely important tourism sector back to normal, the Central Otago people responded like few other regions in the country.
If there has been a theme for the past 12 months, it has been that regions like ours have fronted up, made sacrifices and done the hard yards without the support of the Government.
But it cannot continue.
2022 must be a year of action from the Government, not another series of announcements by Ministers holding court in press conferences beamed to the nation.
What New Zealand needs is surety and clarity, not promises of what may or may not be to come.
My colleagues in the new-look National team are eager to see that delivered and we will be holding the Government to account every step of the way through 2022.
If there has been another theme that has run through the year, it is Labour’s desperate plan to implement its Government knows best approach.
Labour and Greens Ministers want to tell us how to run our water supplies and how to run our farms, in a uniform approach they have tried to extend everywhere from polytechs to the health system.
Central Otago didn’t build itself up as a world heavyweight in sectors like tourism, horticulture and viticulture through Government intervention and restructuring.
I strongly believe that we have the innovation, passion, dedication and leadership already in our region to plot a prosperous path forward for Central Otago.
For me, 2022 will be a year for fiercely advocating for what is best for the Waitaki Electorate and its communities.
Cromwell doesn’t face the same challenges as Christchurch and the Teviot Valley doesn’t have the same needs as Taihape.
Central Otago needs a thriving tourism sector, supported through the closure of our borders.
It needs workable regulations for our many and varied land users, from farmers to orchardists, that recognise the gains that can be made by using best practices and industry-leading innovation.
Central Otago needs immigration policies that allow suitable people to call this region home while helping fill mass worker shortages in sectors like healthcare, aged care, education and horticulture.
We have seen progress in these areas, but not enough and I will continue to strive for better in 2022.
As this is my last column for the year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support during 2021.
I hope everyone is able to enjoy time with family and friends during the holiday season.