Bay of Plenty moving in the right direction
Thursday, 24 November 2011 8:00 a.m.
The Bay of Plenty as a region is generally moving in the right direction, according to a Bay of Plenty Regional Council report, Bay of Plenty 2011: Regional Trends.
But in many areas there is still a lot of ground to make up, the Council's Strategy, Policy and Planning Committee heard this week. The internal report gives a detailed statistical portrait of the Bay of Plenty, showing the region's strengths and weaknesses and creating a benchmark to compare against in the future.Committee Chairman Raewyn Bennett said the report was an important step in the development of the Sustainable Development Framework.
"It provides the top layer of indicators of how well the region is achieving its long term goals and outcomes. The numbers tell a complex story about jobs and the economy, the environment, education, culture and heritage, transport, health and welfare, and crime and safety."
The data was drawn from a wide range of existing internal and external sources.
"The development of the Sustainable Development Framework doesn't end with this report. The next step is to finish work on an 'outcomes and indicator hierarchy'. This will be a conceptual model - but also a monitoring framework - to capture how the council's various actions and programmes work directly and indirectly towards the region's long term goals," Mrs Bennett said.
The report says that demographically the Bay of Plenty is unique, with one of the largest Māori populations in the country. The region has a high percentage of older residents and a low percentage of young, working age residents.
The region is growing by around 3000 people each year, mostly in the western districts. In the next 20 years, growth looks set to continue at the second fastest rate in the country. At the same time, there is a concern that as the overall population increases, smaller areas in the eastern districts might be left behind.The region's economy has been affected by the recession, with unemployment up, and job numbers and building consents down. While there has been a rebound in job numbers and building consents, unemployment has continued to rise and at a faster rate than the national average.
Bay of Plenty had a large increase in median household income throughout the 2000s, surpassing the national median in 2010. However, housing became less affordable in the same period.In 2006, one in five residents was living in low income households and one in ten residents were living in crowded housing. Only four regions score worse on these living conditions indicators, the report says.
There has been positive movement in education rates, but the region still lags behind the national level. The proportion of school leavers with university entrance qualifications has risen steadily but continues to lag behind the national average. While the number of adults with tertiary qualifications has risen, it is still markedly below the national average. However the time spent by under-fives in early childhood education is second only to Auckland.
The Bay's environment is generally maintaining its current state despite increasing pressure from the region's urban areas, agricultural land and developments. Most lakes, rivers and coastal areas are maintaining or declining in quality due to sedimentation and contamination. Air quality issues are isolated to Rotorua's urban area - the worst for air quality in the North Island. Soils are in decent health, with most issues arising in dairy land, and some issues with sheep/beef, deer and kiwifruit sites.
In the 10 years to 2010 criminal offences decreased, but the region remains third highest in the country for criminal offences per capita. Serious assaults per capita almost doubled in this time.
While total vehicle kilometres are rising, vehicle ownership per capita actually decreased in 2009 and 2010. Of New Zealand's 12 largest centres, Tauranga had the lowest proportion of public transport users travelling by bus at least two times per week. This is a reflection of Tauranga not having a bus service until 2001. Since its reintroduction it has seen a spectacular growth in patronage.
Most Bay of Plenty residents maintain a decent level of activity and rate their health as good or better than good. However, the region faces some serious health and welfare issues with the fourth highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the country, a smoking rate well above the national average and an alarmingly high male suicide rate, the report says.
Three in 10 Māori people in the region can speak Te Reo, the second highest rate in the country. Residents feel that Māori culture is recognised and respected in the region, with a culturally diverse arts scene and maintenance of unique characteristics of local areas.
The Bay of Plenty has grown by 44,500 people since 1996, a growth rate of 1.3 per cent per year, mostly in western districts while eastern districts had little or negative growth. The ethnic makeup of the region has changed very little, with a large Māori population, proportionally only smaller than Gisborne and Northland. The Asian population has grown significantly over the last 10 years, but still only accounts for four per cent of the population.
In the Regional Council's latest Community Outcomes survey, most Bay of Plenty residents said they had a sense of pride in their area and felt they could have an impact on making the community a better place. The Strategic Policy and Planning Committee congratulated Regional Council staff on the report, saying it would be a valuable resource in informing Council decision making.
For further media information please contact Acting Strategic Development Group Manager Garry Maloney on 0800 884 880, or Linda Thompson, Senior Communications Advisor, on direct dial 0800 884 881 ext 8149 or (021) 923 339.