As I drive around the North Shore to attend local events or meet with constituents I am constantly struck by the scale of development right across the electorate and what’s happening here is echoed nationwide with building activity at a record high for 2016 after five years of strong growth. My colleague, Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith, tells me this is the longest and strongest growth phase in building activity in New Zealand’s history and involves record levels of investment in homes, commercial buildings and infrastructure. The total value of consents last year was $19 billion, the highest ever and 30 per cent more than the previous peak last decade, in inflation adjusted terms.
What’s particularly encouraging is the ongoing strong growth in residential building which has increased 27 per cent in Auckland over the past year. The number of homes being built in 2016 – nearly 30,000 nationally and 10,000 in Auckland - is more than double that of five years ago and the highest since 2004.
I’m a huge supporter of the sterling work our doctors and nurses at North Shore Hospital do each and every day. A key priority for our Government is increasing access to specialist health care for everyone. Our answer to increased demand is to do more, whether it’s assessments or operations. The latest data shows that in the Waitemata DHB area almost 19,500 people have received a First Specialist Assessment (FSA) since 2008 - 62,000 patients were assessed, an increase of 44% since 2008. Locally 62,000 patients received a FSA, an increase of 44% since 2008. The assessment covers medical and surgical specialist assessments for things like ophthalmology, orthopedics and urology.
A pilot bowel screening programme has been operating at Waitemata DHB since 2011 and that will carry on. The programme is being rolled out nationally following the local trial and when fully implemented will likely screen over 700,000 people aged between 60 and 74 every two years. Around 3,000 Kiwis are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and it’s the second most common cause of cancer death.
The North Harbour Club lunches are always excellent events and Aidan Bennett is doing a great job as president ensuring the momentum and purpose of the club continues. NHC believes in North Shore helping its own by encouraging and providing financial assistance to young people in the region who are achieving excellence in their chosen field. Since 1995 the annual AIMES Awards programme has resulted in more than $1.85 million worth of grants made to young people. This year’s awards’ applications will open on 14th June.
After many years of dedicated work by the YES Foundation’s Sonia Thursby and former local board chair Joe Bergin, the community project Shore Junction is underway. Currently in the design, consenting and fundraising phase, the YES Foundation, ably chaired by long-time community campaigner Gary Monk, is bringing this initiative to life. The Junction is a centre dedicated to promoting youth innovation on the Shore and is the first of its kind in the country. It will be housed in the former Takapuna RSA building on Northcote Road opposite Smales Farm and is an exciting development for youth on the Shore.