Bronda Smith is currently Finance Consultant at Carterton District Council, having previously worked in a whole range of roles and councils. Bronda recently took up the opportunity for a belated trip to a number of New South Wales councils as part of an Overseas Manager Exchange she won in 2019. She reports back on community connection, community transformation, and climate change planning across the ditch.

"I wasn’t going to let a little COVID-19 stop me from going on my Taituarā Overseas Manager Exchange to New South Wales. I might have been a few years late, but I got there."

"Jenny Gleeson from North Sydney Council was hosting me, so my trip had a very urban feel. I went over with three things to look at: community connection, community transformation, and climate change planning. All things that are topical in New Zealand."

"North Sydney Council showed me around the community centres that bring the community together. The North Sydney Community Centre was a hive of activity. Fifty kids at the play group along with their carers, a Pilates group, a painting group, and a group learning Spanish – community connection in action. Something to bring to New Zealand that’s for sure. Then off to the Coal Loader, a repurposed piece of infrastructure to show urban sustainability."

"Randwick City Council’s visit was on National Sorry Day and I got to watch the Koojay Corroboree, which celebrates Aboriginal ceremony tradition and culture. A very moving and heartfelt ceremony."

"At City of Sydney, I was hosted by Kate Read, the head of the Resilient Sydney team. This is an initiative called the 100 Resilient Cities Network. The data being collected on behalf of the 33 councils is outstanding. I was amazed at the work done on five new builds and what they could do to make sure they were still appropriate in 2070. Let’s make this happen in New Zealand. It’s a game changer."

"And lastly, I visited Waverley Council. They are one of only a handful that still run Precinct Committees. I love that the Council connection to help facilitate communities was so strong in this process."

"And then the conference and the awards dinner. I loved being there to help celebrate the amazing work being done in local government. There were over 123 entries and too many guests to fit into the conference room, so a second room with a second host was added at the last minute."

"I came away with renewed energy and commitment that local government’s purpose is a worthy one. We do it for all the right reasons and I love being a part of it. Thanks Taituarā for selecting me to go. An Overseas Manager Exchange is well worth it if you are thinking of applying!"