Last night I met with people passionate about our environment – amazing stories shared of initiatives all over Banks Peninsula and the city with thousands of people involved. Farmers covenanting land, people planting and trapping (did you know that there are over 20 groups just along the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River?!).
Two things that really stood out is that we don’t need any more strategies – rather we need to look at how the existing strategies are actually brought to life. And, secondly, we need to tell our story and make visible so many of the exciting projects that are already happening.
As Margaret Mead has said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that has.”
Community groups can be rightly proud of what they have achieved. But they need support – I got a clear message that sustainable funding pathways were important, and short term year to year funding rounds were preventing long term planning and change.
One of my key priorities as Mayor will be to look at how we can tap into the rich talent and story that exists in our city. Supporting the revegetation of the Port Hills, Banks Peninsula and the Ōtākaro River Corridor will offer us a climate buffer as well as an enhanced backyard for our communities.
But it is not just about restoration. It is about Mahinga kai – recognising that these natural resources sustain life, including the life of people. It is important to manage and protect these resources, in the same way that ancestors have done before us.
Inviting people to share that story is also important – and what a story we have to tell – from Riccarton Bush to Hinewai, along the rivers that connect us to the sea, the birds of our Estuary, the bays around the Peninsula, the well used tracks.
Thanks to everyone who shared their story and their perspective last night – I look forward to working with you to amplify your impact. Ngā mihi, David.