Good progress in difficult times

I’m glad we got through most of summer without Omicron in the community, and thankfully our vaccination rate kept Delta cases low. Our beautiful city is just so good and the summer brings everyone out to our parks, beaches and harbours; we also got that much-needed time with family and friends after a really tough year.

It has been a testing time but I am proud of our community and the progress we are making together. Yes, there is still work to do, but we also have a lot to celebrate with so many improvements either completed or under way.

More and more visitors to our city are noticing the differences and enjoying spending time here. More importantly, so are locals. Auckland has so much going for it right now with infrastructure upgrades big and small. There is a general buzz around the place and a focus on people being most important.

It is noticeable on the Shore too. Local parks, tracks and facilities are being upgraded and our very cool Hurstmere Road upgrade was completed in December. It has been well over 30 years since Hurstmere Road had seen any investment. The infrastructure was literally falling apart, the road was sinking and the pipes under the road were almost a century old.

Now we have new furniture, lighting, planting and plenty of revitalised spaces for people to enjoy Takapuna and what our local businesses have on offer. New mature native trees were planted in the many new rain gardens which improve water quality by cleaning the stormwater before it reaches Takapuna Beach; it’s also a much safer place for people of all ages.

Looking at water quality, we have now removed the permanent long-term water quality warning from the Wairau Estuary outlet at Milford Beach. This warning was put in place over a decade ago by the North Shore City Council. The removal was possible through a joint initiative between Auckland Council and Watercare, investigating almost 1000 properties and removing sources of wastewater contamination located in the catchment. This work was funded through the water quality targeted rate which will continue to fund ongoing work in this area.

Community advocacy from passionate local groups and volunteers played a huge part as well, as we worked to secure this budget after we had success addressing similar issues at Takapuna Beach through our Safe Networks programme.

Last month I attended a pōwhiri to bless the site for construction of the new public space in the centre of Takapuna. It will be constructed in three stages with the first part of the square due to open in December 2022.  It has been a long road to get here but what is currently a carpark will soon be an amazing civic space where people will gather.  Mana whenua have gifted it the name Waiwharariki, which is the original mana whenua place name for the area now known as Takapuna, the beach, and town centre areas.  New beginnings while bringing our history back too.

I know many of you will be anxious for what Omicron brings but I am hopeful that if we continue to work together and look out for each other we will get through okay. We will also need to continue to invest in our community even in the hard times to get the best outcomes for our community now, and into the future.