AS I SEE IT : Penny Hulse – Deputy Mayor, Waitakere City Council

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?
The individual achievements of New Zealanders are embraced by the whole nation. We tap into the collective pride we have in our people who make their mark on the world – film makers, sport stars, scientists. And in that we are humble about acknowledging our own success; that rugged individual persona holds us back from trumpeting our achievements and leads us to be suspicious of those who do. Abroad however, New Zealanders have huge pride in their country’s achievements and the reputation New Zealand has for fair play, innovation, natural beauty and wild adventurous spirit.

What will the country’s next challenge be?
New Zealand enjoys reputation as fair egalitarian nation and great place to live and raise families. Our lifestyle is our greatest advertisement to the world and our challenge is to keep this opportunity available to all New Zealanders, to lead the life the rest of the world envies us for. In our major cities greater urban density will increase the potential for loss of community cohesion, so sound planning is needed to ensure our communities thrive. We need to embrace and understand the changing face of our country and acknowledge that our success as nation is based on all our people reaching their full potential.

What do we need to do to prepare for this?
We need to engage with people about their expectations, identify what is affordable in terms of taxes and rates, and as decision makers we need to understand the aspirations of all sectors of our communities. This will happen in meaningful way if there is central government leadership that really stands together with city leadership. This leadership needs to re-assert positive democracy in our community, working with individual neighbourhoods across our cities. As nation we cannot afford to have groups in society falling behind. Our young people must be well educated in order to achieve. Our future as successful competitive nation is predicated on strong, well-educated workforce. To achieve this we need broad, forward-looking and inclusive leadership. We need to step away from the old measure of success and embrace our changing New Zealand identity, take collective pride in our wide spectrum of success, and look for opportunities in our diversity.

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