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Community puts its voice on the table to shape Bullers's next 10-year plan

24 Nov 2023

After five weeks of polls, surveys and conversations, Buller District Council’s engagement with the community about shaping Council’s next 10-year plan closed on Sunday 12 November.

All the hard work has paid off, with a fantastic count of 332 responses to the feedback survey.  94 responses were submitted via a paper form and 238 were submitted through the online form. 170 responses were given to the quick polls which brought the total number of responses to over 500.

After the closure of the survey and quick polls, the gathered data underwent a thorough review. Responses that were blank, indicating no feedback provided, were omitted from the final tally and the subsequent data analysis.

Most survey responses were received from people living in Westport (34.9%), followed by Karamea (31.3%). Northern Buller claimed third position with 13.5%. Punakaiki and Charleston residents contributed 6.4% of the feedback responses. 2.1% of the survey feedback came from Reefton residents and 0.4% of the feedback came from Maruia/Springs Junction. Responses making up the remaining 10.4% either preferred not to say or indicated ‘Other’ as their place of residence.

An interim report was published this week with a high-level overview of the big-ticket outcomes 

The report showed that a key finding from the survey was that across the district, social well-being, environment, and prosperity were consistently rated as the most important community outcomes, scoring over 4 out of 5 on average. Affordability also scored high. Culture was ranked lowest.

For budget allocation, roading and transport, community services, and infrastructure resilience were the highest priorities overall. Governance and regulatory services were the lowest.

Mayor Jamie Cleine says: “We see regional differences in budget priorities that reflect what is at stake for these communities. Westport residents prioritised 3 waters, infrastructure resilience, and planning. Karamea/Little Wanganui residents emphasised roading and transport. Northern Buller people focused on roading, community services, and resilience.”

The quick polls showed that the top choices for Buller’s people when it comes to infrastructure investment priorities over the next 10 years is stormwater (25%), drinking water (24%), and rubbish/recycling (22%).

The quick polls revealed that the maintenance of parks, reserves, and playgrounds garnered the highest combined importance, with 79% of participants acknowledging it as such. Local road maintenance also received substantial recognition, with 77% of responses indicating its importance. Key district projects were considered important by 57% of the quick poll participants. Lastly, resilience against climate change and natural hazards was deemed important by 51% of those surveyed through the quick polls.

Regarding the usage of community facilities, 64% of quick poll respondents said they use them sometimes, while 20% use them a lot. Only 6% said they never use community facilities.

On the potential sale of council-owned properties/buildings, 65% of respondents to the quick polls said they would support it if the assets weren't critical, and if it reduced rates.

When asked about reducing funding for community grants/museums to lower rates, 26% strongly disagreed, 22% disagreed, 21% were neutral, 20% agreed, and 11% strongly agreed. This suggests a nearly even split in opinion, with a slight majority of respondents opposing the reduction or removal of funding for community assets and groups, while a significant minority supports the idea if it would lead to reduced rates. This reflects diverse perspectives on the value of community services versus financial savings in the community amongst the quick poll respondents.

For the most important council focus over the next 10 years, the top themes that came through the quick polls were infrastructure resilience (26%), affordability (20%), 3 waters (17%), climate change (12%), and social wellbeing (11%).

Mayor Jamie Cleine says: “Looking at the feedback in the interim report, the challenging part will be to align what we hear with what is going on around us, and what is affordable.”

Councillors and key staff will review the feedback and ideas that have been collated in the upcoming LTP workshops.

Mr. Cleine says: “It is going to be a demanding Long-Term Plan with some tough decisions to be made. The pre-engagement feedback puts us in a good position to start this process and take the community with us on the journey as we are developing this plan over the coming four months."

A final report including an analysis of the recent regional surveys, the detailed analysis of the feedback survey and granular insights from the quick polls will be prepared. This report will be published at the end of November.

Mr. Cleine says: “I encourage people to stay in the loop and keep up to date with how we are tracking as we shape Buller’s next 10-year plan.  A lot goes into the Long-Term Plan and this year there are some complex issues this plan needs to address.  We aim to be as open as possible in the creation of this plan to help people in Buller understand why the draft document looks like it does.”

You can stay up to date and see Buller’s next 10-year plan taking shape by signing up to our e-newsletter Buller’s next 10–year plan | Buller District Council ( Council will keep issuing news articles, publish updates in local publications, publish information on its Facebook and LinkedIn pages and keep its website up-to-date. 

Further information

Council opted to engage Wellington-based PublicVoice Ltd to carry out the 2023-2043 LTP pre-engagement. PublicVoice Ltd has vast experience with Local Government consultations and has previously carried out successful data research for Buller District Council.

The budgeted cost for PublicVoice Ltd’s services was $26,125 plus GST, which includes the research design, data collection, data analysis, and reporting. As the pre-engagement incorporated several open-ended questions as well as the analyses of recent surveys and reports, council expected a large amount of qualitative data to be collected. Collecting and analysing this volume of data needed advanced software and specialised staff to accurately capture and reflect the community's feedback.

Using PublicVoice Ltd ensured efficient collection, objective, impartial treatment, and detailed reporting of the feedback. The insights will provide staff and elected members with the necessary information about the common themes and people’s inputs.


For further information please contact:
Buller Mayor
Jamie Cleine