RIP Chester Borrows — it was such a pleasure to have been your colleague.
Chester, who died on February 27 from cancer, was the National MP for Whanganui from 2005 until he retired in 2017. He also served as Minister for Courts and Deputy Speaker.
A former police officer, detective and lawyer, Chester was renown for his compassion and thoughtful contributions to the work we do as MPs, his support and mentoring of young MPs, and his service to his community.
My very best to his wife Ella, their children Zac, Abi and Katy, and grandchildren Jimmy, Benny and Jonah.
Chester and I at the opening of my Inglewood Office in November 2014.
HORRENDOUS START TO 2023
If I thought 2022 was a difficult year for families and businesses, it pales in comparison to the start of 2023.
In this newsletter, I thought I’d be acknowledging a change in Prime Minister, my new Conservation portfolio and new Select Committee position.
But that fades into oblivion in the wake of what has happened to those living in the North Island, especially the battered northern and eastern regions.
Following last year’s wet winter, spring and start to summer, the continued downpours were already leaving their mark on the landscape before we were hit with cyclones Hale and Gabrielle bringing more rain as well as gale-force winds.
The sheer amount of water that fell and the destruction that followed especially in Auckland, Northland, the Coromandel, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay has been life-changing for so many.
One scientist has calculated the Esk Valley in Hawke’s Bay received enough rain to fill 72 Olympic swimming pools every minute, for six hours, during the height of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Subsequent rain has only added to the catastrophic results.
Overall, the Taranaki/King Country region was very lucky to escape such devastation, with the Waipā district suffering more wind than water, and rural Taranaki faring well considering what was going on elsewhere.
The exception was the Waitomo district where a state of emergency was called on January 25 in the aftermath of Cyclone Hale and ongoing rainfall.
In Te Kūiti, the Mangaokewa Stream burst its banks flooding low-lying properties in the east of town, while power was cut for up to 24 hours. Evacuees were cared for by the people of Te Kūiti Pā and I want to thank the whānau there for moving quickly to welcome them.
Piopio was also flooded in areas in town while farming communities around the entire district had paddocks under water, stock isolated, silage and crop damage.
Ōtorohanga township suffered some flooding due to rising Waipā River levels..
Waitomo Caves Village and Marokopa were among those communities cut off by water and slips throughout the district’s roading network. The clean-up of those, plus state highways also affected by slips, trees and surface damage continues.
Through this there has been great co-operation between local mayors, council staff, lines companies, roading and Civil Defence teams. I want to applaud for them for the very long days, nights and work in very stressful, trying conditions.
Last, but never least, are the volunteer emergency services, especially our local fire brigades. When trying to get through days and nights with howling winds, pouring rain and rising water, it’s to these amazing people we turn to, to help pull us through.
Thank you all so much!
THE YEAR AHEAD
In January I received the Conservation portfolio. Conservation involves us all and is across every industry, so I’m excited about the work to come.
As a new Environment Select Committee member, I’ve spent the first weeks of 2023 hearing submissions on Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill.
These are two of three bills drafted by the Government to replace the Resource Management Act. The Climate Adaptation Bill is yet to be introduced.
Listening to these submissions, while we are seeing the regional destruction on our daily news feeds, has me concentrating on ‘where’ and ‘how’ we need to build in the future.
To those who have lost loved ones, homes, livelihoods, animals, treasured mementoes, my heart goes out to you for the toll it’s taken.
My hope is that in true Kiwi spirit, while we may be bruised, we are not broken. For the return to some semblance of normal will take years.
NATIONAL'S POLICIES & PLANS
As we move toward this year’s election on October 14, more and more of National’s policies and plans are being revealed.
This is something many constituents asked for at our recent round of Taranaki/King Country annual meetings.
Meanwhile, at our Bluegreens Forum(see section below),he took the opportunity to announce our Local Water Done Well plan.
There will be many more announcements to come.
BLUEGREENS GATHER - FEBRUARY 25
Bluegreens Forum marked 25 years at this year’s event.
Bluegreens are thinkers who believe successful economic and environmental policy can go hand-in-hand in order to provide a cleaner, greener future for all New Zealanders.
Held in Blenheim on February 25, there were great discussions covering forestry, viticulture, restoration of the Marlborough Sounds, quota management (fishing), water storage and resource management reform.
The next day we had the opportunity to visit the local Native Wildlife Centre - a good examples of conservation at work.
SEAWEEK, MARCH 4-12, 2023
For the past 30 years, in early March, celebrating and connecting with our marine environment has been behind the concept of Seaweek.
The aim is to promote a wide range of activities and opportunities for people to get involved in learning and helping to keep our oceans healthy.
As citizens of an island nation, I think it’s something we all should be involved with.
Taranaki's Seaweek celebrations were kicked off on New Plymouth foreshore on Sunday, March 5. It was very educational and there were plenty of activities for families. I'm pictured talking to Danielle Gibas, biodiversity advocate with Wild For Taranaki.
TE KŪITI CENTRE OPENS - FEBRUARY 11
Te Kūiti’s new Gallagher Recreation Centre was opened by former Te Kūiti High School principal Bruce Stephens(above)on February 11.
It was launched in star-studded fashion with the first game of netball — the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and the Robinhood Northern Stars. The Stars took out the win.
Having watched the progress of a dedicated committee over a number of years, my hearty congratulations. This is a fabulous asset for the Te Kūiti, the wider King Country community and all the visiting teams which will play there!
WHANGAMOMONA REPUBLIC DAY - JANUARY 21
The work Matt Chisholm(above)does with Rural Support Taranaki and around the country is so appreciated by many, including me.
I had such a good day sharing some of the activities at this year’s Whangamomona Republic Day.