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Letter to Manukau - Friday 20 July 2008

Letter to Manukau Friday 20 June 2008

From the Office of the Mayor of Manukau

LEN'S PROGRESS

As many of you will be aware, our mayor Len Brown suffered a serious setback in his recovery from major heart surgery this week. Len underwent further surgery on Wednesday. At the time of writing he is in a critical but stable condition.

Since Len collapsed at the Pacific Music Awards on 31 May, I have been in regular contact with mayoress Shan. Since we heard of Len's recent setback, I have expressed our concern and sympathies as well as offering every support we can give. This is an extraordinarily difficult time for Len's family. Their hopes were high as Len appeared to have been making a good recovery. He was being allowed to rest and recuperate and was very positive about his prospects.

We will continue to support Shan and the family and we all hope that Len makes a full recovery.

________________________________

DIFFICULT TIMES

These last few weeks have been extremely difficult for our city with three senseless killings. Three innocent victims - Navtej Singh, Yin Ping Yang and Joanne Wang - have been taken from their families and their communities. Our sympathies and thoughts are with their families and friends.

There has been outrage in our community and our country over these killings and rightly so. In a sense, this shows the sort of society we are. In some nations, killings such as these would be the norm. There would be no media focus and no community concern. But New Zealand is not that sort of country and Manukau is not that sort of city. As I look out from the Civic Centre I can see bouquets of flowers laid near the spot where Joanne Wong was run over in the Westfield Shopping Centre carpark. Our people and our community do care.

I have also seen the mobile police station at the Manukau shopping centre this week. Police have been running an operation for several months in different parts of our city to help people take precautions against bag-snatching. Arrests have been made in the Navtej Singh case. An arrest has been made in connection with the Joanne Wang case. On Tuesday councillor Colleen Brown and I had a meeting with Counties Manukau police commander Steve Shortland and other senior officers. I was reassured that police are working hard with our Chinese, Indian and other communities to help prevent crime. They are also working well with small retailers. There is a lot of work going on to help our young people. I strongly support police having all the resources they need to do their job. The council is also playing its role and continues to promote community safety. Next week I am chairing a meeting hosted by the council in Manurewa which will see key government departments review services in the area, identify any gaps and formulate action plans. A whole-of-government, whole-of-community approach is the best way to move forward.

________________________________

LIQUOR OUTLETS

Recently, the Prime Minister made it clear she wanted action to improve sale of liquor laws in New Zealand. George Hawkins' bill to amend the Sale of Liquor Act will be considered by Parliament. This bill widens the criteria of who can object to liquor licence applications and requires applicants to supply social impact assessments.

Our council will certainly want to have significant input on any changes to liquor licensing laws. The power to regulate liquor outlets should be given to our communities and indeed to our council through such changes.

Tools like the district plan take time to change and are oriented to controlling environmental rather than social effects. Any changes need to be capable of withstanding rigorous legal scrutiny. That said, the council is supporting ALAC's research project assessing the impacts and problems of different types of outlets in Manukau. This will inform any future district plan changes and a review of our alcohol strategy. We need to have solid research behind us.

Our district licensing agency in Manukau does a terrific job working with police and public health to enforce the current law through a variety of measures.

We have developed a collaborative enforcement model that has become a model for the rest of the country. And it is bringing forth good results.

________________________________

SIGNS OF HOPE

On Monday I attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the Counties Manukau District Health Board's new oral health clinic at Buckland Rd in Mangere. According to Maori tradition, we buried a stone to bless the site. This new facility will replace the old dental clinic at Buckland Rd which was destroyed by fire in April last year. This clinic had provided dental services for children and young people from Mangere and the wider south Auckland area since the 1960s, as well as providing dental care for special needs children and emergency tooth extraction for low income adults. Its loss was a blow for our community.

The new clinic will offer a seamless oral health service to young people without the current distinction between preschool, school and adolescent services. It will be the first of several such clinics the health board is planning.

The rebuilding of this clinic is an important symbol for our community at this time. We can rise to challenges and emerge to face the future with confidence.

________________________________

NEW KIWIS

On Thursday I spoke at a ceremony at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre where about 300 people received New Zealand citizenship. Some have been in New Zealand for as long as 37 years. These people came from many different nations. They want to live in Manukau. It was great to see so many smiling faces. These people are really positive about their futures in Manukau. I was delighted to welcome them to our community as fellow Kiwis.

________________________________

THANKS

Finally, I'd like to thank councillors, council staff and the community for their tremendous support to me since I have been acting mayor. This support is greatly appreciated.

Gary Troup Acting Mayor of Manukau

ENDS


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