Co-Governance and our climate

Published on 09 May 2022

Photo of Mayor, Sheryl Mai.

On Thursday 28 April 2022, at our full Council meeting, I had the privilege of voting in favour of our region-wide Te Tai Tokerau Climate Adaptation Strategy. The discussion around this important joint mahi was heated, climate change is a serious topic, one that raises concerns for us all.

I am proud to say Whangarei District Council has joined Northland Regional Council, Kaipara District Council and Far North District Council in adopting this joint strategy, and we are now aligning priority actions to help our communities adapt to our changing climate.

Within this strategy are the tools we need to ensure future policies and actions have a climate-centric view. The strategy itself is a living document – you could think of it as a document written in sand, not stone. As we all know, new data is constantly reworking what we think we know about our climate emergency.

This strategy is not committing us to a prescribed set of projects, rather, it’s giving our region a framework to ensure climate change remains a lens across all future community infrastructure planning and strategising.

The Te Tai Tokerau Climate Adaptation Strategy is a landmark piece of work. This is Aotearoa’s first regional climate adaptation strategy to be co-created and adopted by multiple councils, and the cooperative way in which it was created is a success story in itself.

Climate change and sustainability

This, in my mind, is something that is even more important than the strategy.

For more than four years, tangata whenua in Te Tai Tokerau have worked alongside council planning, strategy and communications teams to develop a truly collaborative outcome. The resulting strategy is the culmination of countless hours of engagement, hui, joint committee meetings and working groups. It has touched almost all departments within our councils, and has seen cross-council teams working together on a weekly basis.

The pathways and relationships forged through this mahi are the true prize. The importance of this strategy has seen our councils develop working relationships that cross district, organisational and cultural boundaries. Tangata whenua sat at the governance table, helping shape and inform the strategy every step of the way.

Why does this matter?

Because partnership at a local authority level is the most effective way to achieve true progress on behalf of everyone in our community.

In February 2022, Whangarei District Council celebrated the establishment of our Housing Strategy Co-governance Sub Committee, which is now working on our District’s Housing Strategy.

Housing Strategy

The Sub Committee will act not as an advisory group to Council but as a sub committee with full delegation to set the strategic direction of the Whangārei Housing Strategy and, finally, to adopt the Strategy itself. I emphasis the words ‘full delegation’ because this is where the decision-making power sits: this is true co-governance.

Shared direction setting and decision-making between hapū and local government is one of our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, these are landmark moments for our Council, our region and Aotearoa. I am extremely proud to be part of the process.

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