March is shaping up to be an eventful month and Grant, Joe and I are looking forward to the exciting Cricket World cup games, attending half a dozen Arts Festival events, including a rapping remix version of Othello at the Bruce Mason theatre and the first of my Business Breakfasts for the year with the Minister of Social Development, the Hon Anne Tolley on Friday 20th.

As the new Minister for Seniors, I am determined to be a strong advocate and do all that I can to ensure that the voices of older New Zealanders are heard and what better place to start the consultation than in my own home patch. North Shore

Grey Power gave me a very warm welcome and the crowd of around 300 gave me plenty of feedback on the positive ageing strategy, supporting carers, raising awareness of elder abuse, neglect and social isolation, and the bright future under this National Government, for the SuperGold Card.

It’s been a glorious summer and we’ve been enjoying the new restaurants and cafes along Takapuna Beach Reserve, which is able to accommodate everything from a quiet stroll or swim to large scale events like the State Beach Series and the Coastal Challenge.

It’s good to see the revised plans for the National Sailing Centre have now been lodged with the Auckland Council and that the new design for the proposed marine hub facility is open for public consultation. I’m firmly of the view that our community would benefit from a world class marine sports facility for sailors, kayakers and paddlers and the plans look set to improve public accessibility to the beach, along with new changing rooms, showers and toilets. By reducing the size of the yachting centre and building it under the road, it will occupy only 10% of the Reserve and with community activities using another 30% there will effectively be an extra 7000 square feet of open Reserve space for all to enjoy.

Bringing the concept for the Centre to a reality with a facility that we can all be proud of has not been straightforward. Finding the best design and site has been a 10 year process involving lengthy consultation between the Local Board, Auckland Council, the Harbour Access Trust, Yachting New Zealand and a very engaged community. It’s been a controversial project and local opinion has been divided but I hope that now with the new plans, which have taken into account concerns about the size and impact on the use of the Reserve, that there will soon be a positive outcome and the National Sailing centre can finally be launched.

Congratulations are due to the very community minded couple Jackie Kerridge and Chris Reeve who have worked tirelessly to advance their plans to build a state of the art new playground, to be located on the Gould Reserve between The Strand and the beach in Takapuna. This will be an all-inclusive play area for children, adults, senior citizens and people with disabilities and is a much needed facility for our community.

I’m looking forward to handing out the medals for the third year in a row to the keen youngsters at the Weetbix Tryathalon at Woodhill Park, Narrow Neck beach.

April is going to be a month to remember with significant ANZAC events commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of World War one. In addition to all that’s going on for us on the North Shore, as the Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage I’ll be at the opening of the National War Memorial Park in Wellington, and Sir Peter Jackson’s “Great War Exhibition”. Another highlight for those of us who enjoy the islands of the Gulf will be the new Conservation Park on Great Barrier Island that I’ll be opening as the Minister of Conservation.

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