Penny’s Piece, Christmas 2015

Penny Gaylor Otaki's KCDC councillor
Penny Gaylor
Otaki’s KCDC councillor

Well I know there were some records broken for most rain this year, and warmest months, but surely it was also the fastest year on record.

Crickey, we’re at Christmas already, time to reflect on the year that was, and look to planning for 2016.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, I hope you get to enjoy the summer holiday season, with some down-time, with friends and family, safely, and of course I hope you get to enjoy it here in Ōtaki.

We’re staying at home for the summer holidays, looking forward to family days enjoying our selection of beaches, rivers, playgrounds, walking tracks, and community pools. That’s a pretty good summary of our typical holiday break.

On reflection, some of my highlights in 2015 include the Ōtaki Kite Festival and the Maoriland Film Festival. Both are significant events, unique not just to our district but right across the country, and both are a perfect fit for Ōtaki.

One draws people to our beautiful sandy beach to enjoy our sprawling coastal environment; the other encompassing the essence of the cultural richness of our community and presented in a number of our significantly important locations in the township.

Council supports the kite festival, and to a lesser degree Maoriland. At the last Environment and Community Development Committee of Council which I chair, councillors voted to investigate investing money from our new events fund in to either or possibly even both events.

The events fund is targeted towards significant events that will be regional if not nationally recognised events with the council funds helping to lift the event to the next level to support economic development.

We’ll know early in the New Year if council select these events to invest in from the newly established fund. A coup for Ōtaki given this is the first year.

Always a highlight of the various community roles I have is my position on the governance board of Te Waananga O Raukawa. Sadly because Government is changing the composition of Boards of tertiary institutions, the Board will reduce in size significantly and from July 2016 there won’t be a council representative.

For the last five years I’ve had the privilege to sit on the Board, and various sub-committees, and it has helped me to better understand the role of the Waananga in meeting the aspirations of Maori.

I believe the value for me and as a community representative has been about the listening I could do around the table, much more than the talking I’ve done.

And that’s a very important lesson I draw on – whether sitting around any governance table, or when approached to help a constituent with an idea or an issue.

Merry Christmas everyone,