Celebrating the highs, reflecting on the lows

December is the most special time of the year, especially in this role.

It’s a time when I get to spend less time stuck in the office and most of my time in the heart of our community.

While it’s undeniably one of the busiest months of the year, it’s also the most fulfilling, as I get to witness the remarkable achievements throughout our district — whether it’s young students graduating with honours and embarking on their journeys into adulthood or seasoned professionals being honoured for years of dedicated service.

I am always humbled to be a part of these milestones.

As the year draws to a close, Christmas provides us with an opportunity to reflect — not only on one’s own personal journey but consequently the journey we have all been on together.

We’ve celebrated remarkable highs, from the opening of our new library to the installation of 10 new wind turbines powering our region with clean energy. We’ve also basked in the glory of the electrifying Rugby World Cup final, showcasing the incredible accomplishments of our island nation, despite the television match official.

Yet, it would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge the challenges we’ve faced this year.

From the controversies surrounding our council to the nationwide cost-of-living crisis.

None of us will forget the water running through our streets during the state of emergency, as we begin to grapple with the effects of a changing climate.

Despite these hardships, our community has stood strong, demonstrating unwavering solidarity, and emerging even more resilient this year.

What does next year have in store for us?

The future remains uncertain, but with a new government and a resolute commitment to improve, I am excited for what opportunities next year will bring.

On a personal note, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported me this year.

Whether you’ve shown me the ropes, enjoyed a laugh, or simply shared a smile, you’ve made my year and our community all the more special.

I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events over the next month, but if not, I would like to take this moment to wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

May you enjoy these upcoming moments of joy and warmth as we step into the new year with new-found hope and a spring in our step.