Thursday, 15 November 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

A beautiful beautiful place

A beautiful beautiful place

Co-leader of the Green party, Metiria Turei was in Whitianga on Tuesday last week, primarily to talk education with John Wright, principal of Mercury Bay Area School. Ms Turei was accompanied by Catherine Delahuntey, Green Party List MP and Kauaeranga Valley resident and Anna Horne, Whitianga local and Ms Delahunty’s campaign manager in the upcoming central government elections.

After their meeting with Mr Wright, the three Green Party members joined us for lunch at The Informer’s offices, where we had the opportunity to quiz them on a number of issues.

We firstly asked Ms Turei if she’s ever been to Mercury Bay. The answer was no. On the follow up question - what did she think of our place in the sun, she said, "It’s a beautiful, beautiful place."

The conversation then moved quickly to education, where Ms Turei explained the Green Party’s two most recent school policies. "Our school hub policy will be aimed at removing poverty as a barrier to learning," she said. "That will include, for low decile schools initially, free school lunches and after school care and a school hub facilitator who will ensure all the social needs a school may have is met. The other policy is safer schools. We would like to see adequate roading and cycling infrastructure around schools and better design of intersections."

Asking Ms Turei where the funding for these policies will come from, she said priorities will have to be reorganised.

Inevitably we also talked about 1080 and mining on the Coromandel. Mining was the shorter of the two conversations, with Ms Turei saying, "The Greens are not in favour of any mining on the Coromandel. An economy like the Coromandel’s will never be strengthened by destruction of the environment. Not a single mining town features in the top ten of New Zealand’s wealthiest places. People come to the Coromandel because of its natural beauty. That’s what needs to be treasured to prosper."

Ms Delahunty took the lead in the discussion about 1080. She said the Green Party’s policy is that aerial drops of 1080 need to be avoided wherever possible, but that it can be used as an absolute last resort. "Some money has already gone into research of alternative trapping methods and we would like to see more investment into New Zealand-based trapping technology," she said. "We are not blind to the fact, however, that aerial 1080 drops are the only option to save what is special to us all in some parts of New Zealand."

Asking Ms Turei what we on the Coromandel can do to increase our share of the tourism market, she said, "The Greens would like to see a greater focus on the domestic tourism market. There is an opportunity to share our environmental wealth with everyone in New Zealand. We need to make our natural attractions accessible to everyone, including disabled people, and we need to do things like the New Zealand cycleway to get all New Zealanders to enjoy what our country has to offer.

"The international tourism market is important and shouldn’t be neglected, but it is a fickle market. The domestic market will always be more resilient."

Telling Ms Turei about the Coromandel Great Walks project, she immediately thought it was a good idea, but is something that needs to be done with input from the wider community.

We also spoke about job creation and economic growth. Coincidentally the day of our meeting, Russel Norman, the other Green Party co-leader announced new "green bank" policy - in essence the creation of a government bank investing in clean technology. "The global green energy industry is now worth $8 billion. All we need is a small slice of that in New Zealand to see our economy improve significantly,
also with regard to the creation of jobs," Ms Turei said.

"We’re also very much in favour of locals supporting locals and are very firm on our national procurement policy," she said. "If any government agency has any buying to do, they should give New Zealand suppliers the first option.

"We need long term economic planning. We live from budget to budget and election to election, but we really should be looking 50 years or even longer ahead. Forestry is a good example. In Austria they have wonderful mixed species forests with a lot of local wood processing. That’s the result of long term planning. We can have it in New Zealand as well, but we need to start planning for it now."

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.