An opinion piece by Keith Ikin
“Last Tuesday evening, I attended the Michael Barnett seminar facilitated by our Chamber of J Commerce. It was heartening to hear a comment from the floor that the future of our community rests with our ability to ensure our young people reach their potential and make the most of their opportunities as well as attracting bright, innovative and entrepreneurial people into our regions.
We are as rich as any other region in natural resources. Our forestry, agriculture and sustainable energy resources are complemented by one of the most progressive fresh water restoration programmes in the world.
We are one of the most visited destinations in New Zealand and the future potential of tourism in our region is enormous if we get it right.
Given all of the advantages, we should be asking ourselves some hard questions. I am sure many visitors who come here ask themselves why there isn’t greater prosperity and opportunity in our community.
In my view, it’s because we are not optimising the value of our natural resources in a sustainable way for the benefit of our local economy and community.
There is a disconnect between our retail and tourist business community where we do not work together to create the best possible visitor experience and generate a greater spend locally.
In the short term, our future prosperity will depend on our ability to put our differences aside and bring all sectors of our community together to set ambitious goals for our future. If for example we set a goal for Rotorua that every single child achieved a minimum of Level 2 NCEA within the next five years, it would need families, schools and educational institutions, groups and organisations, businesses and local and central government agencies to work
together to create a community in which young people can thrive.
Too many people are hooked into welfare dependency at a young age. It is difficult to break that cycle once it begins. There are amazing things happening in our schools, in organisations and across our community but many of our kids are still disenfranchised from opportunity.
It takes a village to educate a child; there is no reason for us to accept any longer that any Rotorua child does not meet their potential.”
Keith Ikin is deputy chief executive at Waiariki Institute of Technology
Daily Post, Rotorua Bay of Plenty by Keith Ikin