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Ōpōtiki Mayor backs Kaipara’s opposition to court closure

Ōpōtiki Mayor backs Kaipara’s opposition to court closure

For immediate release: 5 December 2012

Ōpōtiki Mayor John Forbes has pledged his support for Kaipara groups uniting to oppose a decision that would see Dargaville District Court becoming a ‘hearings only’ court early next year.

Mayor Forbes says he empathises with the groups, having had the same treatment in in his own District in recent weeks. Ōpōtiki District Court was reduced to only six hearing days per month, with the court's paperwork transferred to the Whakatāne District Court, meaning counter services were no longer provided from the site.

“Rural communities need access to certain service providers; policemen, teachers, GPs, and banks, post offices and courts. These things all make up the fabric of a rural community,” Mayor Forbes says. “As soon as you start picking off these services, one-by-one, that fabric begins to fray.”

“There’s an argument from the Ministers that ‘it’s not about cutting services, but about changing the way we access them’. It’s all good and well to tell someone to go online and fill out a form, but districts like Ōpōtiki and Kaipara faces challenges that make this impossible for many of our people,” he says.

“Accessing the internet might be a given for someone in Wellington, but we’re still a long way off in our districts. We have homes in our town that aren’t even connected to power, and parts of our District are still without cellphone coverage, let alone broadband access. There’re issues of affordability and literacy that some of the decision-makers in Parliament have neglected to consider also.

“With central government taking the community wellbeings out of our local government purpose, t’s high time the Ministers started looking at ways to build rural communities, rather than continually breaking them down.”

Ends

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