A chat around the fire

How many times in recent times has someone said to you we are blessed indeed to be living on the West Coast during this time where covid-19 has triggered an economic downturn greater than most have experienced before.

Let’s look not at where we have been, but where we are going as we navigate the road in front of us. Cars have a large front window and a small rear vision mirror for a reason.

By focusing on the natural advantages, we will have a diverse economy, build strong communities and they are the basis for bringing up our families caring for the elderly and having a life style the envy of many.

We are on a level playing field with the rest of New Zealand in relation to tourism as we go forward.

Our untamed natural Wilderness does not care if our guests are domestic or international and this is a huge advantage.

Most of our attractions are free and whether we like or not it’s a big draw card for tourism where every dollar counts, promoting it to bring coasters home to visit or even stay permanently will be an increased focus.

We have a huge advantage 600,000 people in Christchurch, Nelson, Ashburton South and Wanaka Queenstown 1.5 hours away from our south Westland tourism gems.

We have a farming sector that has an advantage now that did not exist a few years ago with the shareholder in Westland milk, Yili group. It’s not just a financial advantage they also bring longer-term advantages for the exporting of high-quality product and my hope is one day this will include water.

Markets Like China require specialist knowledge of the internal politics and processes to get the best possible result.

The mineral sector has an advantage that can’t be taken away. We have the much-needed minerals in the ground and that’s the first step for any increased investment.

Stewardship land is the key to this, and Doc have had 32 years to carry out the evaluations intended by parliament in 1987 and clearly are incapable of doing the job.

Politicians should reclassify the land, place its control outside of Doc where both the productive and environmental sectors can compete on a level playing field for access and ownership. Make it rateable to bring in some commercial incentives to act.

I believe that the West Coast will indeed be a great place to live as we weather the economic storm over the next few years and we’re fortunate indeed to be surrounded by coasters.

Bruce Smith | Mayor
Westland District Council

A chat around the fire