The future of council

New ICC councillor Rebecca Amundsen.
New ICC councillor Rebecca Amundsen.

For the next 100 days will follow newly elected Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.

She's not an unfamiliar face to people  who live in Glengarry, or those who voted for her.

She's a mother, a landlord, a project leader and now a city councillor.

But this isn't just our project, it's yours too.

Get involved by posting comments, asking questions and answering polls each week as we follow Rebecca's first days in office.

Each week Rebecca will also write about her council musings.

With one son entering his final year at high school this year, we decided to do something special for the summer holidays  - just in case it's our last family holiday.

Rather than head for an Island or Australia we decided to see a part of New Zealand none of us had been to before -  the top of the North Island.

I have to say that the weather was amazing.... But I will not say any more than that.

We had some awesome experiences and the highlights for me were visiting a farm at Kaiwaka (where my great great great grandparents lived when they first arrived in New Zealand from the Shetland Islands in 1859 and is still owned by descendants), taking a guided tour around the Treaty of Waitangi grounds (something I think should be compulsory for every New Zealander) and visiting Zion where I stood among 31 lions and tigers when they all started to roar.

Everywhere we went people asked where we lived.

After exclaiming about how far Invercargill was from Northland, the next thing they mentioned was our Mayor.

Everyone seemed to have a Tim Shadbolt story.

Someone knew him through the commune he lived in and a woman who was at university at the same time recalled his fundraising auctions, where he sold everything - including an umbrella with no water proof cover.

Local body politics seemed to be a touchy subject in Northland as they face the prospect of amalgamation.

Like Southland, Northland is made up of three territorial authorities - Far North, Kaipara District and Whangarei - and one Regional Council. However, the total population is 158,000, which is significantly higher than ours.

One of the reasons reorganisation has been proposed is a dilemma with the Kaipara District Council building a sewerage scheme in Mangawhai.Interestingly there are other councils who have also had reorganisation proposed.

A group called 'A Better Hawkes Bay' has applied to the Local Government Commission for the amalgamation of four councils in their area as well as the Regional Council.

The Local Government Commission has now completed the proposed draft plan for this reorganisation and it is open for submissions until early March.

Submissions on Northland's proposed plan close at the end of February.

In Wellington the Regional Council has applied for reorganisation of eight territorial authorities into one.

This includes three councils in the Wairarapa that have in turn made an application for reorganisation as they do not want to be part of a greater Wellington council.

It seems inevitable the time will come when reorganisation is suggested, proposed or as some suggest forced upon our councils in Southland.

I certainly hope if or when the time comes, people are prepared to have their say.

The law does provide opportunities for communities and individuals to speak up but we have to take those opportunities when they are given and not wait until it is too late.

And we should all be giving this some thought and considering what future we want for Invercargill and Southland.

A quote by Lee Iacocca to finish up:

''So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.'' 

The Southland Times