Annual Report 2011/12
The past year has been busy and challenging for Greater Wellington and the local government sector as a whole. These are interesting times with a Local Government Bill before the Select Committee and further legislative changes expected in the near future.
Earlier this year our Council and Porirua City Council jointly commissioned an independent review panel to investigate local government reform in the Wellington region. The Panel is looking at the functions and structure of local government in the region as well as some wider-scale issues, such as planning, infrastructure and regional leadership. In particular, we asked them to consider carefully how the region would be best structured to address the big issues, and at the same time strengthen local and neighbourhood decision-making on community issues. We are looking forward to their report at the end of October, prior to adopting a formal Council position on any change in the Wellington region.
Over the previous year we have been extra vigilant in our planning and budgeting to ensure we achieve the best value for money for ratepayers. Through the development of the Long-Term Plan 2012-22, Greater Wellington underwent a rigorous process to analyse how we could reduce costs while continuing to provide the core services and infrastructure that the community has said it wants. Over the coming year we will continue to look at our bottom lines and how we might be able to deliver the same levels of service at less cost.
In the year under review in this report we delivered a number of diverse programmes and projects, including progressing the Wairarapa Water Use Project, completing the upgrade and strengthening of the first of the two Te Marua water storage lakes, and commemorating the 70th anniversary of the US Marine occupation of Queen Elizabeth Park with the Kapiti Marines Trust. An important milestone was commencing Matangi train services on the Kapiti and Johnsonville lines.
In the resource management space we are continuing the development of a new Regional Plan, under the governance of Te Upoko Taiao – Natural Resource Management Committee. Along with this work we published Air, Land and Water in the Wellington Region – State and Trends. This is a comprehensive report on the state of the region’s environment which indicates that, though some of our physical environment is doing well, there are a number of areas that are deteriorating. This data enables us to target our environmental programmes.
At Greater Wellington we work in partnership with the region’s district and city councils on a range of issues. One of these was completing the Porirua Harbour and Catchment Strategy in collaboration with the Porirua City Council, Wellington City Council and Ngāti Toa Rangatira. This is a major catchment-based programme that will require close collaboration over many years to deliver. We also worked alongside the district and city councils to refresh the Wellington Regional Strategy (the region’s economic development strategy) and establish the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office, which brought together the civil defence and emergency management resources of the region’s nine councils into a single shared agency.
As well as working with other councils, we also work alongside a range of volunteer groups and we are grateful for the enormous time and effort they contribute. Much of our work is around regional infrastructure and planning – the big things that are important for whole communities. But we also have opportunities to make a difference in the lives of Wellingtonians on a smaller scale. One such initiative has been the Warm Wellington insulation scheme. Greater Wellington has been involved in this as part of the Government’s Warm up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme since it began in 2009. At the end of the year under review our scheme of loans against rates had assisted the insulation of 3,505 homes in the Wellington region, contributing to the health and wellbeing of the occupants.
New Zealand’s general economic situation looks as if it will still be testing in the coming year as our nation continues to be caught up in global trends. Within this context we will be endeavouring to deliver top-quality, appropriate and efficient services to our region and we look forward to working with our communities in a variety of ways.