Two recent Long Term Plan Workshops showed the passion people have for Tararua is very much alive and well.
Attended by Mayor Tracey Collis, councillors and stakeholders from throughout the district, the workshops were described by Mayor Collis as the first stage of the Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation process.
Held at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka and The Hub in Dannevirke, both workshops involved a large group of participants all keen to share their thoughts and ideas for the future of Tararua.
"We are here today to start an important conversation. The catalyst for starting this conversation might be Council’s LTP, but the conversation I want to have is bigger than that.
"I want us to start talking about the future we want for Tararua, and not just for our immediate future but the futures of those generations that will inherit Tararua from us.
"Your Council believes strongly in consultation and is increasing its emphasis on engaging before drafting the LTP, these workshops are part of this pre-consultation phase.
"For too long we have operated in our respective silos, for too long our towns have struggled to identify as part of Tararua. For too long we have been business and community, council and ratepayers.
"It is now time for us to unite towards common goals, and a shared future," Mrs Collis said.
Divided into groups, participants were asked what they loved about Tararua, how to deal with challenges ahead and opportunities.
With the encouragement of facilitator Mark Raffills at the Dannevirke workshop and Frank Aldridge at Mangatainoka, it wasn’t long before ideas were flowing and people’s enthusiasm was evident.
As the workshops progressed, it was soon apparent there were several recurring issues that concerned people.
These included the closure of the Manawatu Gorge, health care, the district’s identity, a lack of employment opportunities (particularly for our youth), and the impact Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan will have on Tararua dairy farmers.
Deputy Mayor Allan Benbow said farmers may need to look at land use changes, and consider what crops they can plant if they are going to lose 20 per cent of their land from dairying.
Simon Curran of MCI and Associates said his workshop group agreed the One Plan was a major challenge, and alternative land uses would be valuable for providing employment opportunities.
Other suggestions included creating a Tararua centre of excellence and enhancing tourism opportunities through adventure based events and farming tourism.
Dave Craig, Marketing Manager of BCC (Building Clever Companies) in Palmerston North described the workshops as excellent, and a great opportunity for Council to talk with people who aren’t policy makers and get their input.