What a day it was after more than 12 months to welcome our neighbours from across the Tasman back to the south this month. While many family and friends have reunited, these flights have also brought with them hope for our hurting communities worst affected by Covid-19 like Te Anau and Queenstown.
It’s been great getting across the electorate this past month and hosting various MPs. It’s also been good seeing many of you on our travels and I’ll be back to Wellington to advocate for you and our wonderful community next week.
It was great to visit Parata Rest Home and East Gore School on a day filled with meetings in Gore. I talked with Parata resident Stan Chittoch and was shown around the facility. At East Gore School I helped out on the road patrol and it was inspiring to hear from our passionate teachers who are helping guide our next generation.
I hosted National’s Housing Spokesperson Nicola Willis who visited Gore, Winton and Queenstown while here. We had a number of discussions around housing about the fact communities like Gore are seeing the same challenges in this space as bigger centres. We need policy that will address the shortage by incentivising building more homes.
It was a very interesting afternoon joining the New Zealand Environment Trust’s Otago 2021 Field Day, hosted by Anna and Ben the Otago Regional Supreme Award winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. A stunning Central Otago farm, where a lot of passion, thought and hard work has gone into all environmental aspects of the property.
It was a real pleasure visiting Roxburgh Area School, and fielding some very impressive and insightful questions from the students there. Great to see the impressive work that Principal Paul McDowell and his team are doing, and hear about their fantastic local community. While I was in Roxburgh, I was dropping in and having a yarn with some businesses and came across Alastair (closest to me in the photo) who is the local pharmacist and has been wearing his kilt and playing the bagpipes on the street outside his store for 20 years.
Great to catch up with Gore Hospital CEO Karl Metzler to talk about the challenges of rural healthcare, and the innovative work he is doing with his team to be at the forefront of new technological and workforce initiatives.
Very exciting and emotional scenes as I joined our community to welcome the first international flight into Queenstown for over a year. It was a big moment for our region, and a few tears were shed as families were reunited.
Great to spend the day with National’s Spokesperson for Immigration Erica Stanford. We met with a representative from council, the Chamber of Commerce, local business owners, and staff at a local rest home. It’s fantastic to have the bubble open with Australia, but with the opportunity comes new challenges, and businesses desperately need staff - notwithstanding some very innovative efforts to attract staff domestically.
Maternity services continue to make headlines in the south due to a lack of beds available in our hospitals, putting our mothers and babies in compromised situations. Catching up with the Northern Southland Health Trust at the old Lumsden Maternity Centre, it is disappointing to see a facility of its kind going to waste with these ongoing issues. Hearing different ideas from the trust about possible solutions is promising and I look forward to supporting their endeavours.
It was a real privilege to attend the Clyde Dawn Service this morning with Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan complete with a three-volley salute, and to lay wreaths at the Clyde War Memorial and Cenotaph and the Alexandra Cenotaph with Paul Galloway the Senior Vice-President of the Alexandra-Clyde RSA. It was also an absolute honour to say a few words 100 years after the Alexandra cenotaph was unveiled in 1921, recognising the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for humanity as so movingly inscribed on the memorial, remembering the debt we owe them for our freedoms and democracy. Lest we forget.
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