There are some major decisions ahead for the newly formed Kawerau District Council Emergency Committee.

The Emergency Council comprises Mayor Malcolm Campbell, Deputy Mayor Faylene Tunui, and Regulatory and Services Chair Carolyn Ion.

The COVID-19 Level 4 Alert status and the subsequent declaration of a national state of emergency have put the Council’s ability to fulfil statutory obligations under pressure. However, the decisions and challenges facing Kawerau District Council are the same that are facing many throughout New Zealand.

Kawerau District Council Chief Executive Russell George said the existing network of Council chief executives has provided a good forum for discussion and potential solutions.

The Kawerau District Council is looking at options to meet the Annual Plan deadlines.

However, there are decisions yet to be considered by the Council’s Emergency Committee that had been set-up earlier this week to fast-track decision-making in this COVID-19 event. Those decisions include the timeframe for the Annual Planning process and the level of community consultation. Under the Local Government Act, if an Annual Plan does not differ significantly from its Long-Term Plan, Council can elect not to consult the community on its Annual Plan. Given the amount of stress and uncertainty facing Kawerau residents, the Council wants to balance the opportunity for residents to have input in to next year’s Annual Plan with the burden and safety restrictions of the COVID-19 Level 4 Alert status.

Another important item to be discussed in the short-term is the next rates demand. As a small district, the Kawerau District Council relies on rates payments to continue to provide services to the community. The Emergency Committee will need to consider options to assist those who were facing financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Kawerau District Council would like to remind Kawerau residents that the best option to protect themselves and their whanau is to stay home. “We appreciate it is an uncertain time and the road ahead is unchartered. But for the safety of our people, many of whom are older, please do stay home and socialise with only those in ‘your bubble’,” Mayor Malcolm Campbell said. “Kawerau people are resilient and strong and we can unite against this disease if we work together.”