Staying healthy, warm this winter

It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying one of our warmest summers in the South.

Now, as we roll forward to May and inch closer to winter, the cold frosty mornings are on their way back.

The Government’s Winter Energy Payments officially kicked in again this week.

We believe everyone deserves a warm, dry place to call home.

The Winter Energy Payment helps around 1 million people nationwide, with cheaper heating bills through the colder months.

This equates to about 25,000 Dunedin residents benefiting from the scheme, ensuring whānau stay healthy with less stress through winter.

The payments will run through until October 1.

Veterans, seniors, and people on benefits will receive the boost automatically.

Single people will get more than $80 a month, while couples and single people with children will get more than $125 per month to help with the costs of heating their home.

With the year flying by, I thought it would also be timely to acknowledge Dunedin list MP and now Cabinet minister the Honourable Rachel Brooking.

Rachel will be running for the Dunedin electorate seat this election, now that my time as the local representative is drawing to a close.

At last week’s Anzac Day dawn service, Rachel attended as the government representative and laid a wreath on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

I confess it is with mixed feelings that I hand these duties over after 12 years in this role.

It has been a real privilege to represent the people of Dunedin in Parliament.

Having said that, it is a real joy to know my replacement is someone so widely known and respected in the Dunedin community.

Rachel is an environment and local government expert.

She has 20 years’ experience as a resource management and local government lawyer.

She understands business, the community, the environment, and good governance.

I know I’m leaving Dunedin in safe hands with her appointment.

Her capacity and reputation have been acknowledged as Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced her as a minister outside of Cabinet last month, less than three years into her role as an MP.

My job is not done however, with still five months left to serve until October’s election.

I look forward to using these last five months as a chance to connect with people in the Dunedin community and with more time in the region, I will be advocating strongly for my constituents.

It has been a privilege to serve the Dunedin community since 2011, and something I look forward to continuing right up to election night on October 14.