Happy New Year. It almost feels too late to be saying that, only days away from February, but it is my first Oamaru Mail column for the year.
I hope you all had a wonderful time with friends and family over the festive period.
Hasn’t 2021 provided quite the roller-coaster start for the Waitaki?
The wild weather created quite the disruption for many holidaymakers and locals throughout the district at the beginning of this month.
While in some areas the rain was much-needed, it has also left behind a path of destruction.
Conserve-water and boil-water notices were issued, events were cancelled throughout the region and roads were closed – a dramatic start to 2021.
We owe a lot of thanks to all of those involved in the cleanup efforts, and to those who worked around the clock to get our roads back open in the weeks since the flooding.
Once again our wonderful North Otago community has banded together to get through.
It has reminded us all though that we need to be as best prepared as possible for natural hazards and risks.
It also highlighted the ongoing need to replace the Kakanui Bridge which was closed as trees became lodged against it.
Back in April last year, the Waitaki District Council put forward an application for the replacement of the 120-year-old bridge, as a shovel-ready project.
I had also lodged a supplementary order paper to the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Tracking Consent) Bill last year proposing the bridge be replaced.
Both were turned down.
While the council was willing to do what it could to enable the replacement, it was incredibly disappointing to see the bridge miss out on the shovel-ready funding, as it is in desperate need of some improvement.
The Government needs to assist our community in upgrading deteriorated infrastructure such as the Kakanui Bridge and I will be lobbying for this investment this term.
How wonderful was it to see our Waitaki Museum open again after four long years.
A must-see for visitors and locals alike, it’s great to be able to have a place which shares our proud history here in Oamaru.
In two weeks, Parliament will sit again for 2021 and I’m excited about what the year will bring.
Being a strong voice for Waitaki, National’s conservation spokesperson and also the assistant speaker – I’m looking forward to an incredibly busy year.
Good luck to all of our school students who will be heading back to school over the next couple of weeks.
For our high schoolers, I hope you achieved your goals in receiving your NCEA results this month.
Given the disruption of 2020, I think you should all be incredibly proud of yourselves and the work you have put in.
Let’s hope 2021 runs more smoothly.
- Jacqui Dean is the MP for Waitaki