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Clark: Hawke’s Bay Council Building Opening

Friday 24 March 2006

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at
Opening of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Administration Building

159 Dalton Street

3.15 pm

Friday 24 March 2006

Thank you for the invitation to open the new Hawke's Bay Regional Council administration building.

This new facility finally brings together Council staff under one roof - I am told previously you were spread across six different buildings.

Obviously being in one building together will improve the day-to-day running of the Council.

This purpose-built facility will also improve the Regional Council's ability to interact with the Hawke's Bay community, with better spaces for public hearings in four new meeting rooms.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, and so it is timely to note that this building will also serve as the regional civil defence headquarters.

It has been wired to allow other government services to integrate their communications equipment during an emergency. By being built with the tragic lessons of the 1931 event in mind this new facility will provide a significant measure of protection, both to the staff who work within it, and the community it serves, should another civil defence emergency arise.

I understand that Hawke’s Bay will be putting its emergency planning and services to the test with a region-wide civil defence exercise in May. That will highlight the co-operation needed between governmental agencies and community groups, and gives the Bay the opportunity to fine-tune emergency management arrangements. The truth is : we never know when we will need them – and when we do, our communities need well trained people and services.

This is my third visit to Hawke’s Bay this year – following the 75th anniversary commemorations of the 1931 earthquake, and the opening of Hawke's Bay DHB's new 'Teaching DHB' facility.

Later this evening I will officially open the refurbished Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings. I understand the Regional Council has provided financial support for the development of this important cultural asset – and I thank the Council for its support for it.

The Hawke's Bay community identified the theatre refurbishment project as important and has got behind it to make an outstanding fundraising effort alongside the contributions of local authorities and organisations.

I should also add that I expect to be back next month for a regional economic meeting which will bring government ministers and local stakeholders together.

On an occasion like this, it’s worth noting the strong and collaborative relationship our government has developed with local government. We think it is good for New Zealand when our different levels of government can work together in the public interest. I had observed for many years prior to becoming Prime Minister that relationships between central and local government were often unnecessarily bad – with a lot of buck passing between them. I don’t think that’s constructive.

At the core of the relationship developed over these past six years are the central government-local government forums jointly chaired by me and the President of Local Government New Zealand twice each year.

Through these forums, we have mandated our officials to work closely together on all issues affecting local government. The forums provide an opportunity to identify key issues of significance to local and central government, agree on priorities for addressing those issues, and monitor progress towards their resolution.

In between the six monthly meetings, there is a huge amount of interaction between officials. I often joke that Local Government NZ sees more cabinet papers than most ministers. The result is that we are each better informed about the other’s priorities and needs, and New Zealand gets better legislation and policy as a result. I look forward to the next forum in Wellington next week.

This regional council building project is also the result of co-operation – between the Regional Council and Napier City. A land swap between the two enabled this new building to be put on the site of the former Napier City Council carpark.

By deciding on a purpose-built facility on the old carpark site rather than choosing to retro-fit existing buildings, the Council has better facilities from which to serve the Hawke's Bay community.

Congratulations to the Regional Councillors, the local contractors Herbert Construction, the architects Opus International, and all those involved in bringing this project to fruition.

It is now my pleasure to declare the Hawke's Bay Regional Council administration building officially open.


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