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New council finds its feet

26 Oct 2022

The new Buller District Council (BDC) has been sworn in and councillors started their thorough internal induction last week. The new elected members will attend the Local Government New Zealand training in Hokitika next month providing a forum to network with other councillors from across the West Coast.

Mayor Jamie Cleine says: “We have a number of new councillors on board, and it may take a while for the new elected members to come fully up to speed on the various aspects of council’s strategy and day-to day business.”

Council has a busy programme of infrastructure projects underway post floods on top of the planned activities set out in the 2021 – 2031 Long Term Plan (LTP).

Mr Cleine says: “Our priorities are to repair key infrastructure, like the port and the old Reefton landfill, that was damaged during the major flood events as part of central government’s tranche 2 funding.”

Council will work with the West Coast Regional Council (WCRC) and central government on the outcome of the Kawatiri Business case seeking co-investment. The 2021/2022 Annual Report will be approved by councillors at the November council meeting.

Mr Cleine says: “There are some big topics on the near horizon with the Te Tai o Poutini Plan (TTPP) submissions closing in November, the Three Water Reform gaining momentum, and the draft report on Local Government Reform due to be released this month.”

A key focus until the end of the year will be ensuring that the new council is well supported into their roles.

Mr Cleine says: “It is critical that we maintain the positive momentum that the last triennium established. We have promptly appointed committee chairs, will begin to recruit for the chief executive and ensure that the Projects in Partnership group continues to oversee the governance of major projects and the delivery of the tranche 2 flood recovery repairs.

Council is in a great space; however, we have a large workload with major externally funded projects. These will require strategic governance from council which we will get underway.”

The number of committees will be reduced from four to three and the focus of each committee will be consolidated to their core business. Climate change adaptation and youth will be incorporated within the Community, Environment, and Services Committee.

Based on the auditor general recommendations an independent chair will be part of the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee. This reflects best practice guidelines for local government.

Mr Cleine says: “I have aligned and utilised the expertise of the elected group to the best advantage when selecting the committee chairs. I look forward to working as a team across the governance group.”

Council has a strong working relationship with central government and with local MP Damien O’Connor and National List MP Maureen Pugh.

Mr Cleine says: “I will continue to ensure Buller remains a trusted partner especially when working alongside central government on key issues like flood recovery and climate adaptation which will require significant support.

I have also had discussions with the previous chair of the WCRC and reached out to Buller’s WCRC elected representatives to ensure a positive relationship between BDC and WCRC. This is paramount to the success of the multi-tool business case for flood risk mitigation we have submitted to cabinet.”

Council will continue fostering the strong relationship with Ngati Waewae and Ngati Apa and remains committed to further develop its cultural understanding and partnerships.

Mr Cleine says:” Having Ned Tauwhare around the council table has added a new lens and enriched conversations and strategic thinking.”

The regular Monday Mayor chats at the mayor’s office in the Clocktower Chambers will re-start. Members of the public can meet with the mayor personally during these chats.

The monthly mayor radio interviews on Coast FM, the weekly Friday Forums on council’s facebook page and in the Westport News, as well as frequent updates through the Jamie Cleine – Buller Mayor facebook page will continue.

Mr Cleine says: “This open communication approach has been very successful through my last term. My aim is to provide a clear line between governance and management and to facilitate an open discussion with our residents.

I will share in person and through the various channels, updates on what I’ve been up to around the district. I look forward to meeting and hearing from the public.”

Drop-in days in Reefton and Karamea will continue so that all residents have an opportunity to share their views with the mayor and elected members in person.

Mr Cleine says: “It is very important that the community feels part of local government and I am committed to improving this by being visible and available. I also have the expectation that councillors and committee chairs are visible and available as we work together as a team to represent the community.”

Early in the New Year councillors will come together for a restart workshop to discuss the 2023 strategic workplan and frame how council can best work together to achieve this.

Mr Cleine says: “Your councillors and I have a very busy first few months and we will focus on activities that will set council up for a strong start in the New Year.”


For more information contact:
Buller District Mayor
Jamie Cleine