Viewpoint - Challenges ahead

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's one of my favourite expressions and the “change” aspect certainly applies right now. Obviously, I'm writing in the aftermath of a General Election that took place in the chaotic context of a global pandemic.  

There has been plenty of ink spilt in 2020 on the subject of change, with Covid-19 casting a long shadow over so many lives and livelihoods. The recent election tended to focus on issues connected to the coronavirus, sometimes to the exclusion of many other issues that deserved more debate.

The campaign itself was also adversely affected by restrictions related to two lockdowns, of course. In particular, it was disappointing that we lost large-scale gatherings, such as this year's Warkworth A&P Show and the Kowhai Festival. In the same breath, I would acknowledge that these measures were understandable from a public health perspective and effectively beyond anyone's control.

Alongside all the change, however, much has stayed the same in the rural north of Auckland, and across New Zealand for that matter. Many longstanding issues remained unresolved in 2020, and we must now focus on them more intensely than ever.

Readers of Mahurangi Matters will be well aware of the local challenges posed by huge population growth in the area. Infrastructure investment simply must be prioritised by central government, working with local. Talk is cheap, but roads and roundabouts are not, and we're entering a period of recession, if not depression. We're about to find out just how “shovel ready” a number of local projects really are. As the newly elected MP for Kaipara ki Mahurangi, my role will be to advocate to government ministers to make decisions that make living life in this part of the world easier, not harder. I'll do this in a way that is respectful but robust.

I'd like to thank everyone in the area for taking part in the wonderful democratic exercise that is a General Election (whoever you voted for) and all my fellow candidates. On that note, I am fully committed to working alongside anyone who wants to contribute positively to this area. This includes MPs of any political stripe, as well as local government representatives, community groups and other people from all walks of life. I am looking forward to meeting as many locals as possible in the coming weeks, months and years ahead. For details of upcoming clinics and my other activities in the area, please check out my Facebook page, which is simply named “Chris Penk”.

And, of course, I'd love to hear from you at any time on issues that are important to you – whether local or national in nature – so please don't hesitate to call me on 412 2496 or email any time to chris.penkmp@parliament.govt.nz

Chris Penk, MP for Kaipara ki Mahurangi