VICTORIA SPENCECoastal Panel - South-East Coast Where do you live?I split my residence between Opoutere and Auckland. Tell us a bit about yourself:I am married with three children. I have a law and an English degree, and my career has seen me enjoy a range of jobs including hosting a radio show for BFM and later George FM for eight years playing old soul, funk and disco. I have also been a child chaperone on television sets and have worked in public relations. My most recent incarnation was as a high school librarian. I’m a committee member of the Opoutere Ratepayers Association and have previously been the chairperson. Why did you join the Coastal Panel for the South-East Coast?I felt it was important that Opoutere was represented on the panel as it is quite different to other coastal communities, given coastal development is low, we have no houses on the beach front, and most residents are involved with caring for the environment in some way. Opoutere is distinctly non-urban and its undisturbed areas of natural and cultural significance are precious and need protection Many residents are drawn to Opoutere for the environment and how wild and undeveloped it is, and we are very focused on protecting that very aspect that attracts us all to be here. Being involved in the panel is a way to make sure we are represented. I’ve never been involved with a process like this before, so it’s very interesting. As representatives of the community who live in these coastal environments, we see the totality of it and how one small change leads to another. What did you take away from the recent Coastal Panel site visit to the south east coast?It was fantastic to see the level of passion and knowledge the people on the panel are bringing to this project. Members include those who have been watching the environment for decades and people who are specialists in their field giving up their time to come on the panel. Every kind of wisdom and knowledge is included on the panel, from qualified to people who have a grassroots awareness of the environment and a deep sense of connection and desire to protect it. A genuine sense of commitment and love for the environment comes through from all involved. It will be very interesting to see how that is translated by the council. Where is your favourite spot on the Coromandel coast? Opoutere of course! On top of the maunga rua wahine summit looking down over the estuary. What are the areas of concern you want to see addressed through the SMP project?From a ratepayer association point-of-view, we are concerned with keeping the environment as it’s meant to be with human disturbance of the dunes as low as possible to give us the best protection against sea level rise. What struck me on the site visits is that where you have human impact, there is more disturbance of coastal processes. We need to make sure human activity is kept to a minimum and is in harmony with the natural processes of the coast.