Cause for celebration amid the challenges

I am now into week six of my term as mayor of the Queenstown Lakes district.

I continually ask myself where have the past five weeks gone.

The number of people who have come to congratulate me has been humbling.

One gem of being the district’s mayor is the large number of people you meet as you fulfil your role.

The first was being privileged enough to present the Blues awards at Mount Aspiring College.

The extent of the young talent in the Wanaka Upper Clutha area is inspiring.

Diwali, the festival of light, was another community event which showcased a diverse range of performances organised by the local Indian community.

The first citizenship ceremony since the pandemic’s beginning was the most enjoyable community event and was an emotional one.

We had 91 new Kiwis officially become New Zealand citizens.

It highlighted the diversity of our community and the wonderful cultural contribution these citizens bring.

As we move from the pandemic, housing affordability and labour shortages have become pressing issues for the district.

Council has pulled many levers to address the housing affordability issue.

However, these will not be quick fixes as it is a problem that has built up over many years, and it will take some time to solve.

The previous council agreed to notify the inclusionary housing plan change to the district plan.

It is out for public submissions, so please get involved if you have a view.

The submission period ends today, November 24.

Labour shortages are more problematic.

This issue is not confined to our district but is a global problem.

However, as other countries try to entice others from outside their borders to work, New Zealand seems to be stuck on the sidelines, not engaging or encouraging desperately needed workers.

At council, we are working through the implications of government reform.

Three Waters, national planning standards and the Future for Local Government review have placed an added burden on the organisation as we try to navigate a pathway that accounts for the known and unknown consequences of each initiative.

Local government is the best place to make decisions that create the place we want to live.

I fear these reforms will remove that vital part of what we do.

Finally, as we move closer to the festive season, please pause and enjoy time with friends and family.

Take extra time if travelling, and try not to leave the shopping until the last minute.