Canterbury working together

The Press reports:

Canterbury’s newest model of leadership, touted as a New Zealand first, could not have happened a year ago.

The Mayoral Forum, a group comprising Canterbury’s 10 mayors and the chair of commissioners at Environment Canterbury, is celebrating its first victory almost a year after first meeting to devise the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy.

Its digital connectivity programme, led by Timaru mayor Damon Odey, resulted in the collaboration with Spark to fast-track its rollout of 4G wireless broadband across the region.

In the past, relationships between some of Canterbury’s councils had been strained – but now forum chair Dame Margaret Bazley said all were on the same page.

“It’s probably the first time it [the forum] has ever been done in New Zealand,” she said.

“Certainly the other regional councils are looking with great interest as to how we got mayors to work together.”

The Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy, which brought together the region’s leaders to build a vision for the future, also coordinates input from business leaders and South Island iwi Ngai Tahu.

Seven programmes were outlined, with one mayor leading an initiative with a region-wide focus.

Now that the broadband rollout is secured, other initiatives on the horizon include welcoming international visitors, beginning with the first direct flights from China which arrive next week.

Also on the way are broader initiatives around transport planning and attracting migrants to the region.

Unlike Auckland’s super city and similar proposals to amalgamate in Wellington and Hawke’s Bay, the forum was conceptually looser – it encouraged the leader of each territory to look outside their own patch, and each take responsibility for one part of Canterbury’s future.

Basically they have assigned portfolios to each Mayor, so they try to get a good result for the region as a whole, not just their district.

May be a very good model for other regions.

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