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Ready for the New Year

After a relaxing summer break, I’m looking forward to a busy fifth year representing the interests of my North Shore electorate and my second year as Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Conservation and Seniors.

Joe, Grant and I enjoyed our ‘staycation’, cycling, paddle boarding and swimming at our fine beaches and taking advantage of the many attractions the North Shore has on offer.

We had a week down south and really enjoyed the magnificent Heaphy Track, in Kahurangi National Park. The four day tramp is in every sense a great walk – I’ve now completed seven of the nine DOC Great Walks and I’m aiming to do the last two before the next election.

One of the Government’s election promises in 2014 was to extend the protection around some of our most important natural assets in our marine environment, and as the Minister of Conservation my concern is with the many unique species which inhabit it.

Together with my colleagues, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, we’ve just unveiled the Government’s new discussion document on Marine Protected Areas.

Our coastal waters are incredibly important to New Zealand – we have more than 15,000 different species living in our waters, representing one of the world’s most significant habitats.

We demonstrated our commitment to its protection with the creation of the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary last year – safeguarding more than 620,000 square kilometres of seas around the Kermadec Islands. The new approach to marine reserves outlined in the discussion document, the result of a lot of hard work by specialists from all three of our departments, will build on this success.

We want to make the process for setting up a marine reserve more flexible, and allow us to create specific sanctuaries for threatened species such as the great white shark, or the albatross. The existing legislation dates from 1971, and simply isn’t fit for purpose any more.

You can find out more about the proposals – and how they relate to the planned recreational fishing park in the Hauraki Gulf – at www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/marine/new-marine-protected-areas-act-consultation-document

The start of the year has also been a good one for the North Shore. Devonport hosted the New Zealand Chess Championships, attracting more than 100 players and 6 international Grandmasters including England’s Nigel Short, who once challenged Garry Kasparov for the world title. It’s a significant event on the world chess scene, run by local Grand Master Murray Chandler, and it provides benefits for local business as well, bringing in an influx of chess enthusiasts, players and supporters.

My partner, Grant, who is a former NZ representative player in the Chess Olympiads, enjoyed attending the keenly-fought competition and playing in the rapid fire tournament. Ultimately the English grandmaster Gawain Jones won the major trophy, while the three joint runners-up were Short and the Chinese players Ju Wenchun and Ma Qun.

There was well deserved recognition for five North Shore residents in the New Years Honours and warm congratulations are due to Peter Hayes, Carole Maddix, Dawn and Alexander Morrison and Captain Mark Worsfold, who were all made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Peter Hayes has been recognised for his service to accounting and to the community, Carole Maddix for her commitment to netball, the Morrisons for their work for tennis and Captain Worsfold for his service in the NZDF.

My Electorate team and I are feeling refreshed and recharged for the year ahead and my office is open for business so if there are any issues I can help you with please contact Monika or Karen on 09 486 0005 to make an appointment.

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