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Politicians visit Community Whanau meeting

September 2
By David Armstrong

In an unusual coincidence, two MPs visited the September Community Whanau meeting held yesterday, one finding a gap in his diary and the other already invited to speak to the group of 20 attenders.

Labour list MP Damien O'Connor contributed several comments to discussions on national social issues, while Green Party list MP Kevin Hague spoke about the Green charter and what his party is doing to provide an alternative perspective on issues ranging from realising the value of New Zealand's environment to ways of reducing the growing gap and inequalities between rich and poor in this country.

Kevin also spoke about the need to work for the retention of MMP or some form of proportional representation electoral system, as next year's referendum on the matter approaches.

In the usual sharing of information among the whanau group, WINZ's Gavin Cook told of concerns about the rising amount of unemployment in the Motueka area, with increasing problems arising from people trying to cope financially. (The group was provided later with a URL to obtain more information around changes in household incomes, at this address.)

He said also that the Community Link initiative, described at the August meeting, is moving this month into the phase of planning the changes to the WINZ building, and next month these will be translated into actual building work, with the aim of the new entity going 'live' by Christmas. Gavin said so far six groups had made expressions of interest in taking part in the project, but more would be most welcome. (Added later: a document has been prepared to allow people and groups to register their Expression of Interest - Download it here.)

Matt Beech told of a new service started this week at St Thomas church - a place for young mums to feed and change babies, with the bonus of a coffee making machine. Ron Sharp reminded others about the "Meet the Candidates" forum on September 9th, hosted by Transition Towns, and also the "turning of the first sod" at the new community garden this Sunday.

And Motueka Online told the group how the website's visitor numbers last month passed 5000 for the first time, and that the site was being used very actively at present by people discussing the local body elections, the anti-preaching rules proposed for the Museum frontage, and the community garden.

Most others attending reminded us of the services that the organisations they represented offer, including specific programmes.

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