How do you make the Hauraki District as awesome as it could be, in a way that’s affordable for everyone? On a mission to find out, Hauraki District Council is inviting its communities on a virtual tour of Our Place.
What's most important about Our Place?
Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams says the Council asked its communities what was most important to them about Our Place a year or so ago.
“There were no surprises really. Overall, people told us that they care most about the environment and each other. They want nice spaces to socialise, and a strong economy that supports businesses and provides opportunities, especially for our young people,” he said.
Not what you'd expect from a Council
The Council used that feedback to guide a 10 year plan which has now been woven into a fun story called Alice in Our Place Nā Alice i tā mātou rohe. Guided by a giant, tuxedo-wearing ruru named Hawk, the reader joins Alice on a journey through the District, discovers some of the big challenges Hauraki communities are facing and makes some choices along the way.
“Giant talking birds, scenic portals, and ladybugs with wheels - it’s not what you’d usually expect from a Council but we’re hoping people will find our approach refreshing and that we’ll reach some of those who don’t usually engage with us,” the Mayor said.
The online version of the story features an original soundtrack composed by youth creative Matthew Beardsworth, as well as the voice talents of Drew Mehrtens, Rino Wilkinson, Ethan Hohneck and Antonia Branson. There will also be an Alice in Our Place-themed colouring competition to help keep the kids occupied during school holiday time and a scavenger hunt for all ages with the opportunity to win great prizes.
New ways to listen and engage
The Mayor says the Council is always looking for new ways to listen and engage with its communities.
“Community engagement is a big focus for us. People who live and work in a community know it better than anyone. We love getting out and talking with people. We always get better results when we work together,” he said.
Challenges on the horizon
And with no shortage of challenges on the horizon, he says it’s more important than ever people have the opportunity to be involved in local decision-making.
“There’s no denying Covid 19 has tipped the world on its head, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” the Mayor said.
“We urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change. We’re being asked to meet new government rules about the environment, but we don’t think our communities can afford to pay for them. It also looks likely councils will lose responsibility for water services, like providing drinking water, in the near future, which we’re worried could see smaller districts like ours overlooked in favour of the bigger centres.”
Keeping rates affordable
He says the challenge for Council is to work out the best way to meet its increasing expenses, look after the environment, and make public spaces great places to enjoy, in a way that’s affordable for its communities.
“We’re doing our best to keep rates affordable, including asking the Government to give us funding towards meeting its new standards, but we want to know what our communities think. There are some big things that we have to do, but there are also some projects that we can choose to do if we want to.”
We want to know what you think
Alice in Our Place Nā Alice i tā mātou rohe will be available on our website and in print at our offices and libraries from 19 March to 30 April 2021, along with additional supporting information for the Council’s proposed plans for the next 10-30 years.