Feb 15, 2011

Local content

Yesterday I drove past a protest group calling for local jobs for local people, in particular tangata whenua. I do not want to go into the details of local exclusion from the job market I just want to say too often in Kawerau people identify the symptoms rather than the problems. Kawerau as a community needs to define the problem rather than look towards the symptoms. For example many people will cite unemployment as the problem when in reality it is merely a symptom of wider economic and social factors that are preventing business growth and upskilling respectively. What's more, the problem, or in most cases the symptoms, are more often than not examined in isolation. This leads to tunnel vision, a focus on limited range of solutions and outcomes.

If the Kawerau District Council and wider community do not do something to arrest the slide in social and economic indicators then the town is doomed. The current problems the town faces are a result of decades of trends that will take years to reverse. The council needs to stand up and take leadership on this issue. Show a little vision, a little bit of guts, take the risk. Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen. In my opinion the council lacks the vision, the expertise or even any awareness that they are presiding over a dying domain. If Kawerau cannot get its act together central government, and I am 100% sure of this, will force the district to amalgamate with Whakatane. And nobody wants that.      

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