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It’s predicted that many of us will live longer than at any time in history and in Auckland over the next two decades, there’ll be a 106 percent increase with 350,000 people over 65. As the Minister for Seniors I regard the aging population as something to celebrate and to focus on the opportunities as well as planning for the challenges.

I recently hosted the first of my four seniors’ events of the year and around 150 constituents attended my SuperSeniors morning tea in Milford with the Retirement Commissioner, Diane Maxwell. I outlined the Government’s latest initiatives, such as the Age Friendly Communities and the new Seniors Champions who are articulate role models. They include Precious McKenzie who’s an energetic local advocate for the ‘use it or lose it’ approach to health and exercise.

Diane spoke about moving into a retirement village and outlined some of the financial challenges including the growing trend for adult offspring to return home – referred to as K.I.P.P.E.R.S ‘Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings’. At the next SuperSeniors morning tea on July 26 we’ll discuss how to make your money last as long as you do.

June 15th is Elder Abuse Day when we shine a light on the role we can all play in reducing this difficult problem with 2000 New Zealanders a year reporting some form of abuse. More than three quarters of the physical, psychological or financial abuse comes from family members which reinforces the need for being very careful when choosing the people who would hold your Enduring Power of Attorney. See superseniors.msd.govt.nz.

With the local body elections in October comes our opportunity to elect candidates who will commit to some fundamental, fiscally conservative principles. For those of us who want more transparent and accountable local Council and Board representatives, the decision has just been made easier with the new centre-right political party Auckland Future.

Its candidates have signed a four principle pledge – to cut extravagant council spending, keep rates low, reduce debt and minimise waste. I‘m supporting Auckland Future’s North Shore candidates Fay Freeman and Danielle Grant for Council and Local Board. Fay is a former Takapuna board member and a respected sports administrator and policy advisor. She brings a wealth of experience and energy to the centre-right ticket. Danielle is currently on the Kaipatiki Local Board and holds portfolio responsibilities for economic development, arts/events and culture. Although I would work with whoever is elected, I think both Fay and Danielle would make excellent council members and would be eloquent and energetic representatives for the North Shore under Auckland Future.

We will also have the chance of being represented by strong centre-right women, starting with the proven leadership of Mayoral candidate Vic Crone and Lisa White in the neighbouring ward joining forces with Fay Freeman and Danielle Grant.

Infrastructure issues will be big election issues and I’m hopeful the candidates will commit to addressing Lake Rd congestion issues. Grant and I have just bought a couple of electric bikes and we are really enjoying cycling around the electorate and whizzing past gridlocked traffic. I’m having discussions with Local Board Chair Joe Bergin about improving and extending our cycle paths around the North Shore.

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