It feels like Christmas is going to rush up quickly on us with some nice weather recently. It feels like summer is just around the corner. The thing I look forward to most over the summer is spending time on the beach supporting our Surf Lifesaving Clubs, at both competitions and patrols. This is where I get to spend quality time with my family as well. I hope you all get out and enjoy our beaches, parks and the natural beauty of our own special corner of New Zealand.
As your local MP, I have had a great year fully immersed in the communities that I serve. I don’t enjoy the Wellington beltway much, and although I take my role representing and advancing your interests in our capital very seriously, I feel most comfortable back home in my electorate. I want to thank and acknowledge everyone that I have worked with this year for your dedication in striving to make Rodney an even better place to live and raise our families.
When I was first elected as your representative in 2011, one of my biggest battles was to deliver the Puhoi to Warkworth Road of National Significance (RoNS) – an extremely important road for North Rodney, Whangarei and Northland. It will improve road safety, boost local and regional economic growth and significantly reduce transit times to our biggest city. I feel proud when I drive between Warkworth and Puhoi, and see the great progress being made on this road.
You can understand why I was pretty unhappy when the Labour/NZ First/Green Government announced that the next stage of the Warkworth to Wellsford project will be pushed back 10 years. Residents are no closer to knowing when the RoNS will proceed, and the Government’s decision to delay the project has applied a lot of pressure and stress to constituents who own property on the designated route.
Recently, I presented evidence to the Transport and Infrastructure Committee on the national petition to support the Warkworth to Wellsford RoNS, along with my colleagues Dr Shane Reti, MP for Whangarei, and Matt King, MP for Northland. We urged the Government to recognise that the uncertainty caused by its poor decision-making has a human toll, especially for those people whose properties will be affected by the road’s construction. I will continue to apply relentless pressure on the Government to reverse their decision and ensure funds are available under the Public Works Act to settle with property owners on the designated route. I suspect that the money for our project is being redirected into funding for the central rail link, which is likely to have major cost blowouts.
I am also very focused on using my transport forum, which is now co-chaired with One Warkworth Business Association, to work with the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Transport to seek solutions so that the Matakana link road can be restored to a four-lane road.
Wishing you all a very happy festive season with friends and family and please remember to stay vigilant, remain situationally aware and be safe on our roads during the holiday period. I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.
Mark Mitchell, National MP for Rodney