What will this summer bring?

A very happy New Year to you all. I hope, like me, you managed to have a good break over the summer holiday season.

After what was an incredibly busy few months prior to Christmas, with the general election, then the by-election in Port Waikato, and then the opening of Parliament, I took the opportunity to spend quality time with my family and friends over the summer holiday break to recharge my batteries. This year is shaping up to be a very busy one!

This time last year, our region had been badly impacted by first the Auckland Anniversary floods and then Cyclone Gabrielle. Roads into Port Waikato and properties around the township were heavily affected by slips. Some people are still recovering from these events, with many still in limbo pending the outcome of councils’ decisions on their homes and land.

My office was contacted by several people throughout last year who were displaced from their homes by the flooding, and sadly many have had to return to try and live in their damaged homes after temporary accommodation funding ran out late last year. I will continue to liaise with senior leaders in the councils’ recovery teams to make sure these people are not overlooked.

On the upside, it was pleasing to hear that Auckland Council is about to embark on public consultation regarding its ‘Making Space for Water’, a programme that will accelerate planned flood management works across the region, with initiatives that include increased stormwater maintenance and stream rehabilitation to site-specific solutions for high-risk properties. The latter is an example of what we witnessed in Pukekohe when the culvert under Helvetia Road became blocked and the surrounding homes and Lakeside Retirement Lodge were inundated with flood waters.

With our summer typically being a season of unpredictable and extreme weather, this is a prudent time to ensure you’re prepared. Do you have an emergency plan to evacuate for you and your household, including pets and livestock?

For me, this will be a year of getting stuck into my new ministerial roles in the Coalition Government: Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Minister for Small Business and Manufacturing, and Minister of Statistics. These are all roles I have held while in Opposition, so I have been able to hit the ground running and get stuck into the work.

While I expect to be in Wellington a lot more, I will still be available for you, my constituents in Port Waikato. I will continue to work hard every day for the many communities that make up our electorate, being a strong voice for local issues at a national level. You can contact me by email at my usual address: [email protected]

My electorate office in Pukekohe is open Monday to Friday to all constituents, regardless of political persuasion, and Barbara and Lynne are available to help when I’m away.

Photo - The Port Waikato Waikaretu Road was one of many around Port Waikato that was affected by the extreme weather last February