Strong community in good hands

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At its heart, Oamaru is a place where locals work hard, care deeply, and enjoy the best of North Otago.

I recently met a typical spread of locals at one of my regular constituent clinics at Oamaru Library. It’s an important part of my job to hear the issues facing you in the community.

It’s great that folks will share their concerns, frustrations, and good news stories. These constituent appointments keep me up to date.

I enjoyed meeting Terry and the Coffee Riders, who are working hard to create and maintain a social cycling network in North Otago. Oamaru is the perfect place to ride a bike: beautiful scenery, friendly locals and, helpfully, plenty of flat roads for those like me who are gravitationally challenged.

Although trails like Alps 2 Ocean bring in a number of avid cyclists, the Coffee Riders are a group of volunteers keen on making cycling more accessible for those who don’t get the chance to ride very often, or enjoy a more relaxed pace. And what better reward at the end of a ride than a hot coffee and a good yarn about a shared adventure.

Getting more people outside, enjoying the sights North Otago has to offer, and becoming more comfortable on two wheels rather than four are some real benefits to come out of the volunteer work Terry and his team are doing. It’s always heartening to meet a group of locals who have identified a need in the community, and then come up with ideas to help meet that need – and having a good time while they’re at it.

Popping over to Pembroke School late in the morning, I had the privilege of meeting a large group of pupils there and answered dozens of questions about life as an MP. I was delighted to see at the end of my visit that over half of the pupils were keen on being MPs themselves one day, so I’m confident we’ll be in good hands! Their questions were interesting, curious, and wide-ranging – a reflection of the excellent education being provided at Pembroke, as well as in the wider community.

I also caught up with Rosalie and her Penguin Rescue team at Moeraki lighthouse and, as always, was blown away by the hard work and results they get, season after season, facing serious challenges.

Sadly, their job is not getting any easier – more yellow-eyed penguins than ever are struggling to make it to adulthood without Rosalie’s help, which is really worrying.

On the whole, North Otago is a thriving region, thanks to those who work tirelessly to create positive change in our patch.

Community groups, small businesses, and local schools are unsung heroes and the cornerstones of our region’s success.

★ David Clark MP for Dunedin North