KCDC Districtwide Cr Jackie Elliott gives her highs and lows of the past year in Council
‘2018 was a busy year for our family. We welcomed two more little Kapiti Coaster grandchildren and are blessed our children have returned to Kapiti to bring up their young families while we all care for the older members of the family. It is a privilege for me, to be caring for their Kapiti and planning for the future for them.
Targeted business rate needed
Our year in council has included a heavy schedule of policy and bylaw reviews, each offering an opportunity to consult with and listen to the public. I looked forward to the rating review and proposed Kapiti’s first targeted business rate (TBR) to ensure regular, non-ratepayer funded income for economic development initiatives. Examples to follow.
2018 also began with record high temperatures and two major floods due to heavy rain. Climate change challenging us, our residents, our infrastructure and our natural and fiscal resources.
The 2-day Coastella Festival was a real highlight. But a real low was KCDC’s chopping down the mature Karaka trees in a Paraparaumu Beach park. I am still waiting for confirmation that they asked the iwi for permission, given those trees were a valuable food source for the Te Urihi Pa on the site.
Air NZ out, Air Chathams in
In March the popular airport open day was followed two weeks later by the shock announcement that AirNZ was pulling out of Kapiti. Even Ministers criticized the move. KCDC went to the negotiating table and Air Chathams took over in August with a $150k fund from council. (TBR) In response Winston Peters refused to rule out future Government funding for regional airports. Way to go Winston!
In March, the international cry was ‘ Out with plastic bags’, many of our retailers have since banned single use plastic bags, our community responded by setting up sewing groups to make recycled fabric bags. I love this, don’t stop.
Raumati South residents went to battle against Argentinian ants, good on them, by May, the ants were detected at the Kapiti island boats launching site, threatening our island
In April our roads started sticking to our cars and the problem resurfaced in all hot weather, I hope this is fixed now, meanwhile the new expressway began leaking like a sieve and local motorists reverted back to the old highway to avoid the roadworks and long queues.
Discovering a potato too hot for election year, the Mayor delayed the renaming of the old SH1.
I proposed the”Kapiti Coast Byway”; for the entire old SH1 corridor from Levin to Porirua. I welcome the discussion. (Both Mayors Michael of the Horowhenua and Mike Porirua love the name and the concept).
In May K.C.D.C. launched our excellent Kapiti Tourism website (more TBR at work) and Government funding was confirmed for the PPTO cycleway! Way to go, all of us who lobbied for this. In June work started on the council partnership funded Kapiti College Performing Arts Centre.
The Otaraua controversy
And in July parks and reserves staff announced a mega sports park plan for the Otaraua Park (purchased only 6yrs earlier) which wasn’t intended to be developed for 30 – 50 years. Very short corporate memory.
I gave 8 reasons why I didn’t support this premature development, yet! Here’s is reason 9, in my 50 years here I have watched the park turn into a flood plain lake 5 times. It is spectacular but I doubt any of the current staff at council have ever seen it.
Vehicles on the beach
In May community discussion raged about vehicles driving on Waikanae River estuary. By July GWRC announced a regional wide crackdown on vehicles on beaches and in August
KCDC enforced a ban also. Good work, Waikanae’s John Robinson who started the discussion.
Distraught iwi from Levin’s Paere Raukawa Marae spoke to council in July, begging us to cease sending Kapiti’s rubbish to pollute their whenua, Hokio landfill. A KCDC mayoral focus group into rubbish minimisation was announced. 340 tonnes of rubbish and 8 months later, we still wait to hear who will be on the focus group.
KCDC scored lowest for operation costs and 4th highest nationally for debt. About this time, work started on a proposal to borrow $30 million dollars, invest and gain from any profits. I publicly said a cautionary no’, as it felt speculative, and I did not feel the extent of the borrowing was satisfactorily publicly consulted on during the annual plan process, and I remain unconvinced this is a sound proposal. Recently, the Deputy Auditor General issued an extraordinary warning against it.
I waited all year for the Kapiti iwi Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal hearings, I attended 3 days in October including the field visit tour. Hearings resume in February. I was also delighted to get together a group and relaunch the Kapiti Historical Society after a 5 year hiatus. We have already held 3 interesting public lectures this year.
Nationalisation of water?
The Minister of Local Government announced the new Three Waters Policy in July and I said ‘ It’s the start of national privatisation of our water’. Despite being told I was wrong at the time, the Government was warned this month that Kapiti flatly opposes any compulsory marriage with other councils to supply water under a mandatory aggregation.
In November, I reminded representatives from Wellington Water that if they want our ratepayers to fund Wellington city water infrastructure, then there is no reason why the regions ratepayers can’t fund the building of Kapiti’s Maungakotukutuku dam for water storage in the future. Kapiti’s contribution can be the land we already publicly own. I don’t
think they had considered that scenario.
In short, I do have an ongoing priority concern for Kapiti and that is the state of the Waikanae River our sole fresh water source for Waikanae to Raumati. I have watched the flow
and the state of its ecosystems decline over the last 50 years.
The BECCA monitoring reports prepared each September record the effects of pumping maximum allowable consented quantity of underground water into the river during its lowest flow, and peakwater use during the hottest summer days. But they do not record the observations of so many. It’s dark, it’s shallow, its full of algae, it smells.
My message to you for 2019 would be, for our rivers sake please continue to conserve our water ‘He Taonga te Wai Our Water is precious.’
Thank you Alan Tristram, Editor of Kapiti’s only truly Independent Newspaper for the invitation to write this article. Districtwide Councillor Jackie Elliott.