Four Islands Meet

What did you cover?

We started by giving each other an overview of our respective islands, which was very interesting.  We covered all sort of topics including health, education, environment, governance, tourism, visitor levies, freight, power sources, transportation and of course the Fast Track Bill.

What are the big issues for the other islands?

Freight and shipping costs, passenger fares, although Stewart/Rakiura Island has a lovely NZ company down there (RealNZ – they used to be Real Journeys) who operate the ferry service and they provide free transport for kids going to and from school on the mainland. Broadband/connectivity, although Starlink has made lives a lot easier.  For Stewart and the Chathams, power is supplied by diesel generators, and you are charged per unit; this is a big one and both those islands are investigating wind power.  

Were the other islands for or against the fast-tracking legislation?

This was a very interesting discussion.  Waiheke was hoping that we would all support the islands banding together and calling for an exemption from the Bill.  But Stewart/Rakiura and Chathams weren’t so supportive.  They’ve both lost big contracts and opportunities due to the constraint of current red tape, which would have benefitted their island economies.

Will you meet again? 

We hope to – it was so valuable.

What do you see as the benefits of touching base with the other islands? 

As we know, islands are unique and vulnerable in their lifestyles, communities and environment, we have a lot to learn from each other and there will be times when we can team up and speak with a united voice.

Are the other islands as cool as us? 

Ha ha…all islands are cool, but your own is always super cool.

Words by Kathy Cumming, Community Broker