As New Zealand's West Coast wrestles with various environmental and political challenges, we take a closer look at these issues with the help of Katie Milne, a prominent voice from the region.
Her insights, shared during a recent podcast with REX host Dominic George, offer an enlightening perspective on the region's intriguing political landscape, environmental sensitivity, and the resilience of its communities.
While mining has long been a cornerstone of the West Coast's economy, its environmental impact is a matter of heated debate. Milne argued that responsible mining, backed by robust regulation, could both bolster the economy and protect the environment.
"Everyone's got very strong opinions... we've got to be super careful about how we do it," she said.
Milne emphasised the need for responsible practices that not only safeguard the environment but also add value to it.
"Mining has been very careful about how it replants and regenerates an area after it's been there... it's in their interest to keep making it be done in a way that everyone's accepting of."
She also addressed the troubling trend of young people leaving the region, impacting its economic security. She believes that high-paying, skilled jobs in sectors like mining could help retain and attract the younger population.
"These primary, sort of, productive areas... There's a range of skills that are needed and there's geology and all that of course.
"There are high-paying jobs, they're not low-paying jobs like we have with poor old tourism" she pointed out.
While technological advances have brought us closer, Milne underscored the persistent role of geography in daily life. The vulnerability of the region's transport infrastructure, often affected by natural disasters, highlights the need for better planning and resilience.
"The world is now just in time delivery... it only takes a little bit of help from nature and suddenly you're in trouble," Milne warned.
However, she was quick to laud the resilience of local communities who "know what they can get on with" in times of crisis.
As the region grapples with the demands of a changing world, Milne's insights underline the resilience and resourcefulness of its people. It's a testament to the enduring spirit of the West Coast, a place of hardy people, rugged beauty, and untapped potential.
Listen to the full chat between Katie Milne and Dominic George above.