Coromandel Chronicle August 2015

Columns
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Winter brings both challenges and opportunities here on the Coromandel Peninsula. Too many of us get a dose of winter flu and for most it can be avoided by getting an annual anti flu vaccination. So I was pleased that this year’s programme to provide free vaccinations has been extended through to the end of August. The free vaccinations are available to people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with long term health conditions such as severe asthma, and children under five years who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness. People with Down Syndrome and those with cochlear implants are also eligible for the vaccine.

For those not eligible for the free vaccine it is also available for purchase from general practices and many pharmacies. It’s a small price to pay for flu protection.

I was thrilled that Coromandel Town’s second Illume Festival of Light was such a great success. Congratulations to all the organisers and volunteers who made it so. I hope that the festival will continue to grow each year and provide an ongoing winter highlight for both locals and visitors alike.

Living here on the Coromandel we are all environmentalists and keen to see everyone playing their part in maintaining New Zealand being as clean and green as possible. In recent years farmers have been making huge progress on improving the way they operate to achieve better long term environmental outcomes. A recent survey of New Zealand dairy farmers’ environmental investments reveal $1 billion has been spent on projects such as effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems, investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands.

This confirms my view that most farmers understand the balance and their obligations when it comes to increasing production and profit along with environmental responsibilities. The survey shows that farmers made an average spend of $18,000 a year per farm or $90,000 per farm over the last five years.

The main investment is going into effluent management and this amounted to 70% of farmer’s total expenditure. It’s interesting to note that survey respondents spent over $8 million in the past five years retiring land and developing or preserving wetlands. This all goes to show that there is an increasing high level of accountability in the dairy sector.  The sector is confronting a challenging business environment right now but even so it’s reassuring to know farmers are taking their broader environmental responsibilities seriously and with a long term view.

A strong economy provides Kiwi families with new jobs, higher incomes and opportunities to get ahead. Here on the Coromandel we depend very heavily on tourism. Therefore we must be ready to capitalise on growing numbers of independent travellers to New Zealand as this market is set to provide the best growth opportunity.

I’m determined we get our fair share of the projected 420,000 visitors who will stay five days plus days when they visit New Zealand over the next year. These travellers view us as pure and clean, natural, peaceful and pleasant. All these attributes are possessed in our stunning area in abundance.

I can only see positive opportunities ahead for our region and we need to do all we can to make this huge source of visitors welcome. The Illume festival is just one event that assists with that overall objective.

Please never hesitate to make contact with me if I can be of assistance with any matter. For an appointment you can phone my electorate office on 07 868-3529. Email: mpcoromandel@parliament.govt.nz.