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Letter to Manukau - Issue 44

Letter to Manukau - Issue 44
Friday 17 October 2008 - Issue 44

In this update:
A year on | Clean, tidy and proud | Youth connection | Fair reflection | Fun celebration | We mean business | Partner update | Regional cohesion

A year on
October 13 marked my first anniversary as Mayor of Manukau and what a year it has been: extraordinary highs coupled with extraordinary lows, including the unplanned three and a half month health sabbatical.

It is a time of celebration and reflection as we review progress across the city.

Clean, tidy and proud
Our council has advanced several projects and initiatives to make the city look better. This invariably affects how people feel about their communities and it's creating a better Manukau. Attractive streets and business districts foster civic pride and a greater sense of community wellbeing.

By necessity, we have invested heavily in graffiti control and related crime prevention initiatives, working in partnership with government agencies.

I have been pleased to see people taking greater pride in their communities with increased focus on clean and tidy streetscapes.

Youth connection
One of the highlights of the past year has been the connection with our young people. I have encouraged them to find and follow their dreams. It has been a hugely satisfying part of my mayoralty to engage with the future and to see the light shine through their eyes.

A lowpoint for our community in 2008 was the tragedy that befell Elim School in Howick when six students and a teacher died during a field trip. I had the privilege of spending time with staff, parents and pupils in the weeks following the accident. For me, it brought into sharp focus the importance of living each day and being grateful for the time we have with our family and friends on this precious planet.

Fair reflection
The residents of our city are overwhelmingly proud of where they live and, like me, at times annoyed at how our community is portrayed by sectors of the media.

Manukau's reputation is not fairly reflected in some media coverage that accentuates negative stereotypes rather than a balanced portrait of a city facing up to its challenges and making real progress through social, environmental and economic programmes.

Throughout my time as Mayor, Manukau will continue to hold up a mirror to itself and keep working to improve what we see. Our vision is clear and inclusive. It is my plan that the ever-changing image will be shared and celebrated across the community. It is my hope that the media play their part with eyes and minds open.

Fun celebration
Garden and arts festivals are just two of hundreds of events being held throughout Manukau over the next four months.

From fashion to sculpture and concerts to sports, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

After a soggy winter, we deserve to celebrate the warmer months and we have a summertime full of fun and festivities so get out and enjoy yourselves!

We mean business
Manukau City Council works closely with our growing business community and we share the pride in their award-winning achievements.

Ours is a business city and I mean business when I say that we can do a lot more to promote our economic gains to a national and international audience.

Over the next year I intend to initiate programmes that will raise our economic profile and tell our success stories loudly and proudly.

Partner update
Housing New Zealand is a key partner in Tomorrow's Manukau with 10,000 properties across our city, making it the landlord for some 10 per cent of the population.

Its increasing investment in the national housing stock makes it well placed to become an even stronger force for good in Manukau.

This key government agency has been working with Manukau City Council and residents on two key initiatives in Manurewa: Rata Vine and Randwick Park.

I am concerned that they seriously invest in the cohesion of this city and will be discussing the investment they need to make in communities that we own together.

Regional cohesion
Last Friday I joined my fellow mayors from across Auckland, representatives from the regional council and government ministers to review the first phase of the One Plan.

Produced by the co-operative effort of the Regional Sustainable Development Forum, this critical document is, as its name suggests, an Auckland-wide approach to setting priorities for the future of the region.

Put simply, it's all about "go forward" as it spells out what is needed to make progress on the infrastructural and social challenges facing 1.4 million of us.

The first phase focused attention on desperately-needed transport issues and looked at significant social and economic challenges such as skill shortages.

We have much work to do and will take a close look at water-related infrastructure as well as energy supply and climate change.

The government has been a crucial partner in the One Plan and I expect this to continue. In building a cohesive plan, we are shaping our region's future, the outlook for which will then shape the national landscape - on at least an economic level.

Cohesion has required all partners to literally think laterally – across boundaries – and so move outside their comfort zones. It has been a mammoth effort and I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved. In my short time as mayor I have been impressed by the strong consensus, goodwill and progress around our table.

See you out there!

Len Brown
Mayor of Manukau


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