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“Ground-breaking” new committee structure introduced

0 November 2019

Waikato Regional Council’s decision to create a new committee with a specific focus on climate change has been described as “ground-breaking”.

It’s one of a number of changes to the council’s committee structure introduced in this triennium to better fit the era, says Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington.

“As a council there has already been a strong focus on climate change, but this ground-breaking new committee recognises that this is a global issue with local consequences,” Cr Rimmington said.

There are 12 committees, including four new committees: Freshwater Action, Climate Action, Infrastructure and Special Projects, and Regional Connections.

“This means the work previously planned and monitored by the Integrated Catchment Management Committee has been reassigned to specialist committees of council to complete the significant volume of work expected of us,” he said.

The Transport Connections Committee is not “just about buses”, said Cr Rimmington. “It will look at bringing the region up to speed in the way we move people around.”

Fresh water remains the number one environmental issue for Waikato residents and is a priority for central government.

“Waikato Regional Council has a big role to play in this space. We notified a ground-breaking plan three years ago to improve the health of the Waikato and Waipā rivers, and we’ve been providing strong direction to the Government on its own changes to improve the health of New Zealand’s waterways,” Cr Rimmington said.

During an extraordinary meeting of council last Friday (15 November), councillors also decided to disestablish the catchment and drainage committees which had comprised nominated community and partner agency representatives.

“While it has been decided to disestablish these committees, the council values the advice, support and feedback provided and remains committed to community engagement,” Cr Rimmington said.

“Senior councillors and executive staff will be meeting with catchment and drainage committee chairs over the next month to explore new ways of obtaining effective advice and feedback from community members and stakeholders,” he said.

Opportunity has been created to grow the experience of some newly elected councillors in selecting the committee chairs and deputies.

Pamela Storey will chair the Strategy and Policy Committee, with third term councillor Tipa Mahuta deputy. Councillors voted to appoint Angela Strange chair of the Regional Connections Committee, with Jennifer Nickel voted chair of the Climate Action Committee and Denis Tegg the deputy.

Hugh Vercoe, previously a Matamata-Piako mayor and ex-chair of the Waikato Mayoral Forum, remains as chair of the Regional Transport Committee and member of the Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Joint Committee.

Second term councillor Barry Quayle will chair the Finance and Services Committee; third term councillor Kathy White remains as chair of the Environmental Performance Committee; Fred Lichtwark, now in his second term, will chair the Freshwater Action Committee; Stu Husband, re-elected for a third term, will chair the Infrastructure and Special Projects Committee.

Meanwhile, Cr Rimmington will chair the CE Employment and Remuneration Committee, Regional Partnerships Committee, and Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee.

Full details of the new committee structure and its membership are available at waikatoregion.govt.nz/committees-and-councillors.


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