School holidays are here, and Parliament is also in recess for a couple of weeks. Like many of you, I, too, look forward to spending some valuable time with family before hitting the ground running again later in July.
I enjoyed my visit to Tahakopa School in the Catlins recently. While the school currently only has three pupils, size is no impediment to their success! The students won a national writing prize, and the school is well resourced. They certainly put their 3D printer to good use using designs from the internet.
It was great to take some time to catch up with Owaka Police Officer and Search and Rescue member Senior Constable Murray Hewitson. Murray’s 18 years of service to the community is commendable, and his hard work and dedication certainly appreciated. Poaching remains an issue, and Murray and his team are committed to tracking down and prosecuting offenders.
Carbon farming and forestry are issues front of mind for many in the region and the potential impacts on local communities such as school rolls.
Water is also front of mind, and local farmers I met say regular testing of water at the source of catchments will provide helpful, robust data on nitrogen levels in rivers versus what farms are contributing.
At the same time, the Government is ramming through its Three Waters agenda with the Water Services Entities Bill before a Select Committee of Parliament. The bill lays out the final plans for establishing a complex and unaccountable bureaucracy. If passed, the bill would see their Three Waters plans bundle water assets into regional mega-entities out of local community control.
The four entities will be controlled by a complex and unaccountable bureaucracy comprising representative groups co-governed 50% by local council representatives and 50% by mana whenua. There is still some time to submit on this bill by 22 July at https://www.national.org.nz/three-waters.
I am planning a public meeting in August on the water issue and will be communicating more details in my August update and through social media.
The shortage of midwives across our region remains high on my agenda. Recent media coverage of the issue suggests a 45 per cent vacancy rate for midwives across the Southern region. Mothers and their babies deserve world-class care to give children the best start in life.
We have called on the Government to fast-track nurses and midwives through the immigration system and not wait until September for the system to come into force.
You, too can make your voice heard on this issue at https://www.national.org.nz/fast-track-more-nurses-and-midwives.
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