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Devonport has always been renowned for its close-knit and active community and this comes to the fore as we enter the season to be jolly with an impressive lineup of festive events – the Lions’ Santa Parade, Dance in the Park, and the Christmas window display competition. We are looking forward to going to Takapuna Beach on Christmas day for the annual performance from Bruce Mason’s play The End of the Golden Weather. This community spirit was also evident at the Devonport Library Associates event hosting author C K Stead. I understand more than 100 people turned out to hear this witty, erudite Aucklander.

It’s great to see that Depot Artspace will be hosting the internationally celebrated travelling exhibition Rembrandt Remastered from December 18th to February 19th. This is 50 digital reproductions of paintings by the Dutch master based on photographs, each life-sized reproduction “remastered” to reflect what the painting looked like when it was completed 400 years ago. As Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, I see the local support for these life-enriching events as evidence of a thriving arts and culture sector.

The Peninsula has nurtured many musicians including Lorde, along with budding garage bands, honing their skills. I was pleased to welcome a music industry economic report showing the sector’s $245 million contribution to the economy. Music makes a rich contribution culturally, economically, and socially, and our Government contributes $1.85 million to the New Zealand Music Commission while NZ On Air contributes about $4 million a year towards a range of music products. See: www.recordedmusic.co.nz.

It’s been a busy few months with my Ministerial responsibilities and I’m looking forward to spending more time in the ‘hood’ over the summer. I’ve just returned from an international convention on biodiversity in Mexico where I released a new action plan setting out 20 specific targets for protection of our unique native flora and fauna. New Zealand’s Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2020 details how we intend to turn the tide of species and habitat loss and counter the predator threats to our vulnerable native species. Our targets and strategy includes Predator Free 2050 committing us to ridding New Zealand of rats, stoats, and possums. Halting biodiversity decline is a massive challenge internationally and on the home front we need to join forces with others because it’s the only way we can achieve our ambitious goals. With collaboration between DOC, other Government and local body agencies, iwi, communities, private landowners, philanthropists, and business we can achieve the goal.

I’ve recently announced a stellar board to lead the new crown-owned organisation that’ll make decisions about the landscape pest controls needed to secure a long-term, toxin-free future. As the MP for North Shore I’m very encouraged to see the enthusiasm of our local groups to be predator free. In the New Year, Doc’s threatened species ambassador, Nicola Toki, will be helping pull together a coordinated strategy for us with funding and self-resetting traps so that we can achieve the dream of a predator-free Devonport Peninsula. See www.doc.govt.nz for the Action Plan.

Having presented papers at the Edinburgh Cultural Festival, Our Oceans Conference in Washington, Antarctica for Sir Ed’s heritage hut restoration, and biodiversity in Mexico over the past four months, I’m planning a relaxing staycation this summer. I intend to spend as much time as I can with extended family and catching up with friends at home in Stanley Point, getting the garden into shape, polishing up the paddleboard skills, and fingers are crossed for BBQ dinners courtesy of the son and heir. I laid the groundwork with last year’s Christmas present when I unashamedly included a voucher for a BBQ-cooking and salad making course for both Joe and partner Grant so I have high hopes of me being the kitchenhand this summer. We’re also planning on putting our new electric bikes through their paces and zipping up and down a much less congested Lake Road to sample all that’s on offer at the best beaches in the country.

My Takapuna office will be closed over the statutory break but we’ll be back early in 2017 refreshed and ready to greet the year with gusto, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help. I hope you, your family, and friends have an enjoyable festive season and a relaxing and safe summer holiday.

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