Good politics - Northern Advocate - 8 September 2009
Up early and four of us head to Kaikohe to experience the Far North District Council meeting of Thursday 27th August at 9.00 am. Previous publicity had us wondering if we were heading to the Lion’s den. First impressions were a friendly and most colourful chamber, lovely mural back dropping the top table and the mayor casually circulating greeting guests as they arrived ensuring if they were involved in presentations that all were catered for. No ceremonial gowns for this mayor as his colourful all day performance out gleamed that of any polished chains would have done. A telecommunication presentation on ADSL2 in their area, to the now full public gallery, followed with a session of questions and answers. I chuckled quietly as one of our group raised his hand to ask a question and was soon stifled when he was permitted to proceed, with an answer and an ongoing meeting arranged at break to continue the satisfaction of his request. My gosh, the public gallery is far from an area of taboo up here. A series of submissions followed with intense sound dialogue. Morning break came and went with even one of the districts so called ‘stirrers’ invited with all of us to participate in refreshments with all the representatives who freely spoke to all. After the submission sequence the formal council meeting with an agenda of 178 pages of some 20 plus agenda items with the support of a Chief Executive report of another 94 pages. Lunch break with refreshments for all who wished to partake and the meeting in professional, lively open debates with the day’s earlier submissions even having a resolution passed. After an afternoon break where we all chatted freely with the elected representatives we headed back to Whangarei at 1550hrs leaving approximately 10 items still for discussion. Certainly a ‘no holds barred’ exhibition of good local politics with open and transparent decisions being made. Are they a tougher breed, the further north you go?