Leadership is one of the building blocks of a strong prevention system, it plays a key enabling role in redesigning our systems to benefit the health and wellbeing of our people and planet. At Healthy Families Hutt Valley we value and often talk about the importance of leadership. Leadership is happening everywhere across Te Awa Kairangi and it’s important that we take  the time to acknowledge and celebrate our leaders that are creating impact for us locally.

Local Government has many levers that can postively influence the social and physical environments that we live, learn, work and play in. The decisions our Councils make are wide reaching and long lasting, impacting generations of people. So when our local Councillors use their power, reach and influence to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our people, we all benefit.

Reimagining our transport system to make it easier and safer to choose active modes of transport has been a hot topic in the media and across Council chambers throughout Aotearoa recently. Councils are having to balance changes in housing development regulations, walking and cycling investment and new ways of working like Innovating Streets for People projects alongside the voices from businesses and residents (the people that elect them) about what they want for their street and neighbourhood.

So when our Councillors take a stand and publically lead the conversation on the systems change we all need to be able to thrive, we should acknowledge and celebrate their leadership.

Hutt City Councillor Simon Edwards sits on the Project Control Group for Lower Hutt’s Innovating Streets for People projects. He has spent hours listening to the views of road users, businesses and residents in workshops and pop-up events.  He has done a great job of harnessing the insights and evidence from the project to help bring people on a journey towards more equitable use of our streets and spaces. “With our climate emergency and 56% of Hutt City’s emissions coming from transport, cycle lanes and shared pathways need to play more of a role in our future mobility. All the surveys show a major reason for reluctance to cycle is that people (especially school children and their parents) don’t feel safe on our roads. If we can’t get this right on a big wide street like Knights Road, we’re in trouble and the health and welbeing of our people and planet will suffer.”

Councillor Brady Dyer is the Chair of Hutt City Council’s Transport Committee. He is leading by walking (well riding) the talk, demonstrating to his voters (and followers) how he and his family are breaking the cycle of car dependence. “Not only is cycling fun, it also removes one more car from the road, making room for those that need a vehicle to get around.”

Across local print media and social media, Cllr Dyer is shaping the narrative for change,  “The reality is our city is changing, quicker than ever before. If we don’t enable a safe way for active transport users to get to, from or around our city, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure in the future.”

We acknowledge the leadership and efforts of our Councillors, having trusted voices lead the way is laying strong foundations for a better future.