Launch speech

  • Prime Minister Right Hon John Key
  • Kiingi Tuheitia
  • Mayor Bob Simcock
  • Mayor Allan Livingstone
  • Mayor Peter Harris
  • Mayor Hugh Vercoe
  • Regional Chair Peter Buckley
  • Tuku Morgan
  • Distinguished Guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

On behalf of the Future Proof partnership I wish to extend a warm welcome to you Prime Minister and to acknowledge our appreciation for you being able to join us to celebrate this significant milestone in respect of the Future Proof sub-region.

I also wish to acknowledge and welcome Kiingi Tuheitia who has supported the development of Future Proof as is clearly shown by your mihi and forward that is contained in the strategy document.

This launch is a celebration of the adoption, and the beginning of implementation of the growth strategy that has been developed by the partners over the last 18 months. I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Future Proof partnership.

It is of some significance that we are gathered here to celebrate and acknowledge the considerable effort and contribution by the partnership of Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council, Waipa and Waikato District Councils and tāngata whenua have made in developing and adopting in a collaborative way, the Future Proof Growth Strategy.  They have achieved this with the support and involvement of the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Matamata-Piako District Council and it heralds a significant change in approach with the realisation that a more collaborative way of working together in partnership DOES, and HAS the potential to produce far greater benefits for the Future Proof sub-region than working individually or in competition with others.

In my experience the development and anchoring of a “Future Proof way” approach is a critical success factor. By this I mean

  • Respect for each other’s views
  • Compromise and sometimes giving up something for the greater good
  • Confidence to challenge existing ways and approaches
  • A focus on growth management issues as opposed to peripheral matters
  • Keeping an eye on the bigger picture and not letting process get in the way of achieving good outcomes and;
  • A ‘no surprises’ approach between the partners

I am often asked as no doubt are others who are involved in the development and  implementation of growth strategies what does it result in, apart from the obvious actions to be implemented.

What the Future Proof Strategy does, because of its very nature and the collaborative approach used in its formulation is to provide:

  • A sub-regional approach that moves beyond individual Council boundaries
  • Rigour in terms of the research basis and use of common data
  • Order in undertaking actions in logical and timely manner
  • Defined timeframes for undertaking of actions
  • Agreement (the partners already agreeing by adoption)
  • Clear focus on specific actions, and
  • Their priority for implementation

These factors are not always easy to achieve but they assist considerably in providing certainty both to the private and public sector and clear direction both in the immediate and long term.

The strategy has a 50-year vision and provides the basis for managing our doubling in population from around 220,000 to 440,000 by 2060.

Whilst we are here to focus on the successful completion of the strategy and its launch into the public arena, there will be many challenges in effectively implementing the strategy.  Strategy development in my view is the easy part. It is putting the strategy into practice that requires much hard work and effort. It is actually only the start of the journey together, not the end.

A key element of ensuring implementation occurs as envisaged and keeping things on track is the Future Proof Implementation Committee which is the governance committee of the partnership.   It is scheduled to have its first meeting later this month, and this in itself signals the commitment the partners have in moving quickly to strategy implementation.

The group of people on the Implementation Committee have challenging and exciting opportunities ahead. The to date indications are that it will provide intelligent, challenging and focused input, keeping an eye on the big picture and leaving the individual partner organisational issues at the door and taking a Future Proof  sub-regional approach and view.

To assist the Implementation Committee and undertake specific implementation roles are the Implementation Management Group of Chief Executives and senior partner staff,   and Strategic Partner and Tāngata Whenua Forums. The role of the forums for example is that of community and tāngata whenua review to ensure that what has been stated to be done does occur and if it doesn’t, to ask some of the difficult “why not” questions.

Strategy implementation is only as successful as the relationships that underpin it and the commitment of a range of organisations and individuals is required in an enduring manner.

In terms of the opportunities and challenges ahead, I would like to comment briefly on seven of these:

  1. Continuing to be aware of changes in our operating environment at a local and national level. This relates to policy changes that may impact on strategy implementation. There is an enduring need to keep on eye on what is happening locally and nationally especially from a longer term land use and transportation perspective
  2. Commitment to ongoing implementation and coping with any changes of people at a political and staff level. We cannot assume that people and implementation organisations remain constant.
  3. Communication and awareness that the Future Proof Growth Strategy is not based on some restrictive growth management approach. It is not about imposing such tight urban limit boundaries to drive up residential densities, nor is it the single factor responsible for driving up housing costs. There are a range of other influences at play on this issue.
  4. Integration and alignment of the three planning statutes and getting those with judicial and planning responsibilities to see the Local Government Act  and Land Transport Management Act as significant and appropriate other methods in terms of Resource Management Act implementation.
  5. Managing community expectations of successful growth management – that is making sure that what we have, is not eroded or compromised by needing to accommodate future growth.
  6. Concern about the social implications of growth and an expectation that social services, facilities and issues are fundamentally part of managing growth.
  7. Whilst National issues such as climate change, population ageing and the decline in the labour force are strong external factors and could dominate implementation, there is a need to focus on those matters we can influence.

Now turning to another theme, it is worth noting that the Future Proof Growth Strategy is not just a local government strategy. It involves central government agencies, tāngata whenua, community organisations, various sector groups and others who have all contributed to strategy formulation and are an integral part of implementation.

Local or central government does not have the patent on all of the ideas or implementation methods. There are many individuals and organisations that have made and will continue to make an effective contribution to implementation.

Moving onto some key aspects of implementation, central government engagement is high up on the list of key actions. Effective engagement is one of the keys to successful implementation as the Future Proof partnership cannot do it all on its own. However a key pre requisite in my view for this to succeed and to build enduring relationships with the government of the day, is to speak with one voice on the key growth management issues or if there are several voices, that they are singing from the same “song sheet” and this approach is amply demonstrated by the adopted Future Proof Strategy.

An extremely good start to collaboration has been made through the development and adoption of the strategy. However collaborative implementation that is enduring, takes ongoing commitment, lots of energy and needs to become a “way of life”. Change from the more individual way, to a collaborative approach takes time and also involves cultural changes within and between partners and implementation organisations.

Finally I wish to acknowledge and thank all of those involved in the development of Future Proof.

  • In particular the submitters who participated in the consultation phases and provided sound input to strategy development.
  • The respective local government governance teams led by the Mayors and Regional Chair, together with Chief Executives and staff.
  • The input and involvement of tāngata whenua at the governance, management and technical levels which was an important foundation for strategy development and such involvement will continue in respect of strategy implementation. 
  • The New Zealand Transport Agency which has had a clear focus on an integrated land use and transportation approach.

Finally, I would also like to acknowledge the work of Doug Arcus who was the Independent Chair of the Joint Committee which oversaw strategy development, and the Joint Committee itself.  There were several challenges on the way through strategy development and the committee under Doug’s wise guidance successfully worked through these. 

I would now like to invite the Prime Minister to speak and to formally launch the Future Proof Growth Strategy

Thank you

Bill Wasley - Independent Chair
Speaking at the Future Proof Growth Strategy launch, 9 September 2009