2020 is finally coming to an end and January can’t come soon enough.
What a year it was! It’s as if they managed to squeeze a decade’s worth of drama into just 12 unsettling months – a global pandemic, unprecedented lockdowns, economic turmoil, flooding and a postponed General Election.
While many parts of the world had an even tougher time, that doesn’t diminish the stress and uncertainty that made 2020 such a tough slog for all of us.
Despite everything, though, I’m feeling quite upbeat as we move into 2021.
The main reason for my optimism (apart from the vaccine)?
The resilience and generosity of our community here in Porirua, which was on such vivid display in 2020. I saw many families doing it way tougher than they should have to – which is why I’ve been so outspoken about poverty and housing this year. But I’ve also witnessed Porirua people from all backgrounds rally to support one another – whether it’s donating or volunteering at food banks, or stepping in to help family and neighbours with childcare.
During the lockdown, I saw first-hand the dedication of Council staff who showed up without complaint to keep the city going. Alongside nurses, police and emergency services, bus and train drivers, home care workers and teachers, they formed part of the “essential workforce”.
One positive legacy from Covid-19 could be in the way we value their work – and not just with “thank you’s”. When the crisis hit, the occupations we turned to the most are almost all among those we pay the least. That’s something we need to talk about as a country.
School prizegivings also helped me end the year on a hopeful note. Call me biased, but nowhere in New Zealand is home to a more talented and energetic bunch of youngsters than Porirua. Their values, the effortless diversity, the respect for one another, just shines through. So does their love for our community – and our planet. If elected officials like me don’t get serious about climate change, there’s a coming generation of activists and leaders in no mood to wait their turn. They get the urgency and demand action over words.
I’m also grateful for collegiality at the Council table. This is a tough time for local bodies everywhere, and some are cracking under the pressure. Here in Porirua, though, we work well as a team. We don’t agree on everything of course, but we never let policy or personality differences get in the way of our bigger purpose – to help make Porirua an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
Similarly, my elected colleagues and I owe a debt of gratitude to Council staff and contractors. From the chief executive, right through the organisation, they put in a huge effort this year. I truly hope they get some well-deserved rest over summer because we’ve got a big agenda next year too.
Lastly, allow me to convey my best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and New Year. Here’s to a successful and comparatively uneventful 2021!
24 Dec 2020