What do you consider to be the biggest opportunities and threats facing Kapiti over the next five to ten years?
Kapiti has fantastic opportunities including:
- Attracting more tourists and visitors to Kapiti – both short- and long-term visitors.
- Infrastructure – better connectivity to the north and south of Kapiti
- Events – we have an amazing range of events, which showcases what makes our region special, create jobs and boosts our GDP
- Co-working space – with a strong self-employed workforce we need to better support existing co-working spaces and explore other options for the arts community.
- Skills Training- unfortunately we still have too many people aged 16 – 24 not in work or training, and need to do more to encourage them into the workforce.
Economic growth has benefits for everyone living in the district. Kapiti needs a sound economic development strategy. How would you go about ensuring the strategy is developed and implemented and who should be involved?
One of my key focus areas as a Councillor has been trying to progress work on the Economic Development Strategy, especially when it went off track in recent months and required extra attention.
We all agree the community needs to be involved in shaping the vision for the economy, and the Council needs community stakeholders to partner with them to develop it. This includes Iwi, the Kapiti Chamber of Commerce, KEDA, Wellington NZ, Manaaki Kapiti, local businesses and interest groups.
The recent refresh of the existing Economic Strategy, originally developed for delivery between 2015 – 2018 has not been as smooth sailing as hoped, partly due to operational issues within the Council. With a dedicated team now in place at KDCD, and the organisation-wide review of the Council underway, I am hopeful this will provide the focus needed to progress the Refresh to a positive conclusion that will benefit the district and our economy.
To date, the strategy has delivered some fantastic initiatives, helping support business growth (and in some areas our achievements have been higher than the national average) this includes:
- Council Funding for major events
- Electra Business Awards
- Pop up Business Schools
- Kapiti Start up Weekends
- Maori ED Strategy
- Work Ready Kapiti
- Town centre refresh
Regular reporting – our Quarterly Economic Data and Research reports – have revealed growth in parts of our economy, with the Expressway bedded in. People are changing the way they move around the District and businesses need to be aware of these changes for their own forward planning.
Will Kapiti have the infrastructure needed to support projected population growth? If not, what are the key priorities for infrastructure development?
While the property development market is strong, I am constantly hearing about disruption due to Council processes.
One of my first actions as a Councillor was to encourage case studies to understand how the Council interacts with businesses. These findings were quickly adapted into business as usual practices, but due to council staff turnover and changes, these changes have not been sustained. Customer service is also inconsistent across the Council, identifying a need to tweak Council culture – ultimately, I want to see a more streamlined and consistent approach. The Independent Review currently being conducted will shine a light on area of concern.
I believe smaller builds need to be more affordable for developers. Not only do smaller homes minimise waste, energy consumption and have a smaller footprint, they’re also in demand.
The Council will soon provide an overall view of housing on both residential, social and commercial land, and what could be possible to accommodate growth. We will then be able to effectively lobby central Government for support in areas of need.
Wainuiwhanua has been set up to advocate for surplus land from the Transmission Gully Expressway. I believe this could be a gamechanger for Paekakariki and create another settlement or village with in Kapiti, one of my priorities is to encourage the Council to be open for this opportunity.
Kapiti’s local roading needs to be monitored and reviewed with the Expressway open, changing how people move throughout Kapiti. One of the first projects in relation to this is fast-tracking the roundabout at Ratanui Road. We should see more of these vital routes slightly redesigned to accommodate higher volume. The extension of Ihakara Street linking to Kapiti Road needs to be fast tracked to take the East to West traffic off Kapiti Road.
Land zoning is in line with projected growth. There are however large areas of land that are not being developed and there is currently difficult for the Council to encourage or force the landowners to create residential developments. We know there is a need for new house builds and nearly all the subdivisions over the past few years have sold before the first sod was turned.
Council has a goal of being “Open for Business”. What does this term mean to you and what can Council do to ensure it achieves this goal?
I have actively been working with businesses and the Council to improve how the Council delivers on its goal for being ‘Open for Business’, however, I think it should be changed to ‘Open for Opportunity’ as it better reflects the area and tells more stories about how business can flourish in Kapiti, and encourage more events, tourism opportunities, lifestyle changes etc.
More work needs to be done on encouraging an organisation-wide focus on this area, which I will continue to pursue if re-elected.
Does Council have a role to encourage businesses to relocate or establish here? If so, what kind of support should Council offer?
Yes. I am a member of Elevate Otaki, which is working to encourage more businesses to locate to Otaki.
Local business ambassadors could help encourage new businesses to Kapiti – like what happens in Horowhenua. Extending the personal touch – for example being shown around the area by a passionate advocate is a simple activity that delivers great reward.
Kapiti has plenty of industrial and commercial areas for development. While some sites have been vacant for years, we need to create jobs and raise our standard of living in our lower decile areas.
This Council worked well with the Police to bring the Communication Center here, and soon there will be more than 200 people employed all on above average wages.
Business resilience is an area for opportunity. It has become very apparent that Government and big business need to think wider than the main centres to ensure resilience and reduce the risk of business disruption due to extreme events. Kapiti has the space and the opportunity to build in this area.
KCDC were also successful in encouraging Air Chathams to provide their services from Kapiti Airport. Once Air New Zealand stopped flights it became evident that so many new Kapiti Coast residents, commuters and businesses had moved here because of this link directly to Auckland. I went to Parliament with the Chamber of Commerce and KCDC to make sure everyone was working to the goal of getting an airline back to Kapiti, to give Kapiti choice.
KCDC has also support and help fund Start up Weekends and Pop up Business School, both of which have had great results in helping new and existing business grow on the coast.
How Important is it to tell the “Kapiti Story” and how would you go about supporting a project to do this?
Kapiti does need to update its identity and how it tells its story. Work is underway. The ‘story’ is different for everyone and it has been a difficult task to identify any one main theme, however, the Lifestyle Capital has had a soft launch. Now it’s time to get moving on how that is used across council and the wider public. Funding needs to be earmarked in the next annual plan to roll this out.
The future of the well-patronised Kapiti Community Centre is in doubt due to the discovery of leaks and mould in the building. Do you believe Kapiti needs a Community Centre? If so, what needs to happen to ensure we have one?
Yes. The community centre plays an important role to help social services connect to the community. The Community Trust which originally set up and ran the community centre for over 20 years always stuck to its values – providing an affordable space for community support groups. I would like to see the resurgence of this same philosophy in a well-connected area of Kapiti. The Council is currently maintaining the services in this space until further decisions are made around repair works and the future of the entire building.
There has been much debate over the proposed Kapiti Gateway project. There are varying views on the need for a Gateway, the proposed cost and the proposed location. How would you work towards a solution that is acceptable to the various stakeholders, including Council, the community, retailers, visitors and affected parties?
I am very happy to advocate for this. The solution is being worked on now. KCDC has re-opened the feasibility study with the guidance of TRC, a consulting company specialising in tourism and public consultation. The Gateway project has been part of our long-term plans 1990’s, and it has stayed on the plans.
Communicating with all stakeholders and interested parties has proven to uncover similar threads and feelings on what a Gateway would be. Currently the Gateway project is forming part of the Provincial Growth Fund proposal with MBIE that could result in some funding.
There has been no money budgeted by KCDC to do any physical work yet. The location has not been confirmed, but the refresh of the feasibility study should inform us of where the stakeholders’ preference would be.
The Raumati Swimming Pool complex has been lying idle for some time. It has been proposed that the complex be used to develop a Marine Discovery Centre, which would have both local and national significance. Do you support the development of such a Centre? How should it be funded? Who should lead this project?
Yes. I have always supported this project. I have been to the complex and walked around with the interested parties from the Guardians of the Kapiti Marine Reserve and with KCDC ED staff. There have been lots of different proposals in the past for developing this building. This would be a wonderful asset to the Kapiti Coast. I know there is support from the local schools, colleges and universities to have a research lab there. This all flows into the Economic Development of Kapiti. There is an opportunity to house the Whale Museum here which is another wonderful opportunity.
In terms of funding this could be community funded in a partnership similar to the Kapiti Preforming Arts Center. A business case needs to be scoped to clearly see the potential and stake holders need to be identified along with potential funding partners.
What are your views on the protection of our coastlines and key coastal infrastructure?
Local Government across the country are all struggling with the impact of climate change and sea level rise, our coastline is no different. It is important to safeguard our infrastructure along our coastline.