If elected, this will be Jennifer’s first term with the Waikato Regional Council.
I have some really relevant skills and experiences. I love learning and getting to know the perspectives of others, especially on complex issues like climate change. My years of experience demonstrating compliance with our environmental legislation has provided me with a good level of pragmatism to complement my youthful enthusiasm. The data clearly shows we need to value our environment more and I believe in the power of collaboration to achieve wellbeing. My presence on the WRC would also bring some much needed diversity to the decision table and with that also some more approachability for the wider community.
What has the current council (2016-19) done well?
I am glad to see some broad items to address wellbeing and climate change underway, such as the Waikato Wellbeing Project (providing guidance on the UN Sustainable Development Goals), the CEMARS accreditation for WRC to monitor its own carbon footprint and the overview of the entire regions carbon footprint. I am heartened by the strong focus on working together with others and openness to sharing data, e.g. the Joint Management Agreements with Iwi, the Waikato Data Portal, the Waikato Plan, Te Waka, etc. I look forward to the increased efficiencies that will come from more efficient software systems (Project Reboot ) and the new offices in the center of Hamilton to bring all staff together under one roof. I was very encouraged by the support for the passenger rail project to Auckland as the north of Hamilton is an obvious growth area. There are a lot of good projects underway and I congratulate the WRC on that.
What has the current council done that you weren’t happy with?
I am disappointed how many people still don’t know what the WRC does or how it is relevant to them, especially in Hamilton. So far the WRC hasn’t made the most of social media to engage the public, even though it is clear that youth engagement in particular is sorely lacking. This is an issue that isn’t acceptable anymore and will bring value once resolved. In regards to the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Plan Change 1 Project my first impression is that the approach proposed is too complicated and I’m concerned we are so far down the track that it may be hard to let go and simplify. However, there is plenty of general support for the vision of healthy waterways which gives me hope that the region will get a solution that fits. We need to continue to invest in our natural systems but the solutions must fit the land, waterway and the people. Lastly, but definitely not least, I am concerned that the compliance team is not well enough resourced to hold everyone to account equally when disregarding nature and legislation. It is a core role of the WRC and it must be able to do that extremely well to ensure respect from the community and to continue to motivate them towards our shared vision and goals.
If elected, what are your priorities?
My three priorities are: (1) ensuring more focus is put on the value of our environment by promoting greater action on climate change, biodiversity and the health of our waterways; (2) promoting further collaborations to address the wellbeing of our community; and (3) making the most of social media and other online platforms to engage more of our community in shaping the regions future.