15 March 2017

The Eastern Bay will face plenty of opportunities and challenges in the next 30-50 years, with changes to technology, science, population demographics, society, the economy and the environment happening thick and fast. It’s important to act now to sustain and grow the region’s people and culture, economy, environment and infrastructure.

With that in mind, the region’s councils have collaborated to develop the Eastern Bay – Beyond Today development plan. This aims to provide a clear vision of where the Eastern Bay wants to be in the next 30-50 years, and will work towards a range of outcomes. It will sit alongside Bay of Connections, the regional growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty.

The strategy, and the associated implementation plan, have been adopted by the Kawerau, Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki District Councils and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

“It’s an exciting time to be living in the Eastern Bay,” regional council chair Doug Leeder says. “There is so much potential here and we all need to ensure we maximise those opportunities to benefit all our communities, now and into the future.”

The strategy’s outcomes include: that the Eastern Bay’s kaimoana, recreational and commercial fishing, aquaculture and marine tourism thrive, that land, air, freshwater and geothermal resources sustain productivity, that the region’s safe, secure and efficiently integrated transport links support its communities and economy and that our cultural and natural heritage is known, highly valued and actively managed.

“Working in partnership across the sub-region has some huge advantages,” Ōpōtiki mayor John Forbes says. “Outcomes of this scale have benefits across the region. For example when Ōpōtiki’s aquaculture industry thrives, we all benefit. When sustainable fisheries are doing well, it is no single town that reaps the rewards, it’s all of us. Working together rather than competing against each other means we can succeed across the board and in more areas.”

Other projects under way to achieve the plan’s outcomes include a proposed container terminal in Kawerau, which could benefit the whole Eastern Bay; it will enable heavy produce to be transported to and from the Port of Tauranga via rail. Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell says it’s positive to see business and industry across the sub-district working together to improve connectivity.

Whakatāne mayor Tony Bonne says various projects under way in his district will also contribute towards a positive future. “Initiatives such as our urban stormwater upgrades, major water infrastructure upgrades for Edgecumbe and Te Teko and the Sullivan Lake water quality initiative will contribute to a sustainable future for our communities.”

The adopted strategy is the first version of Eastern Bay – Beyond Today to be developed. It will be refreshed regularly as actions are completed and as communities, the economy and the environment change.