Regional Councils have slightly different functions to those performed by city and district councils. We have a strong focus on the environment, and deliver a range of services in the following areas:
Flood Protection and Control
We monitor rivers during heavy rain events and provide warnings. We manage a number of defences against flooding, which include things like stopbanks, pump stations and spillways. These help us adapt to some of the more significant effects of climate change. We are also responsible for a bylaw that aims to stop people damaging those defences.
Transportation and Urban Planning
We run bus services in Tauranga, Whakatāne, Rotorua and rural areas, and also work with other groups, such as city and district councils and central government, to help develop urban areas and necessary transport networks. Good public transport and well planned travel routes help reduce the negative effects of climate change.
We help administer and co-ordinate a range of civil defence services with key partners.
Resource Regulation and Monitoring
We make decisions on resource consents to ensure people are carrying out activities in accordance with key environmental standards, and then monitor their compliance with those consents. We help monitor air quality as well as our geothermal systems. We also provide education on, and enforce, key water-related safety laws, such as wearing lifejackets or keeping to a safe speed. We maintain navigation aids so that vessels can get where they need to go.
We maintain and improve water outcomes in rivers, lakes, and streams, primarily through working with landowners on more sustainable land use. We also protect native biodiversity, biosecurity – controlling plant and animal pests – and maintain regional parks.
Democracy, Engagement and Planning
This includes working with our diverse communities to ensure their voices are heard in our work, developing plans and policies (similar to laws that set out key environmental regulations), and managing the democratic process.
Help provide technical advice and analysis, which includes publishing data and information so the public are more knowledgeableabouttheir environment.
A complex environment
The current local government landscape is particularly changeable. COVID-19 has had substantial economic and social effects, and has become central government’s most immediate focus. There is significant regulatory reform underway at the central government level, with freshwater the first priority, but other issues such as urban development following close behind.
There is legislative change underway with the Resource Management Act, and potentially even more significant change coming to the roles and responsibilities of local government in the general water space. This is driving us to evolve our relationships with tangata whenua and highlights more than ever the importance of these relationships.
Because of this, adaptation will be vital; the plan we set now is for the current point in time, but it is likely that we will need to consider annual amendments and variances, and engage in further consultation with our communities.