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Help near for councils, as water changes loom


Councils are screaming for financial help from central Government. The problem is, David Williams reports, they might get it sooner than they think.

Having a stagnant population isn’t all bad, Westland Mayor Bruce Smith maintains.

“No Kentucky Fried Chicken in our towns, no McDonald’s – and long may they stay away – but our growth comes from the growth in tourism numbers.”

Smith is the first-term mayor of a 360-kilometre-long stretch of the South Island’s rugged West Coast, home to 8800 people. The dynamics brought on by tourism are becoming impossible to deal with.

Take a town like Punakaiki, home to the famous Pancake Rocks. It’s got 300 ratepayers, but, Smith says, it gets about 5000 visitors a day. It needs about $3 million of work to bring its infrastructure, like drinking water and sewerage systems, up to scratch. “They can’t do it,” Smiths says of the local residents. Read more