Leonie Freeman: Meri Kirihimete

What. A. Year.

I’m not sure what happened to the rest of 2021, but here we are, on the short downward slope towards Christmas and a summer break that looks unlike anything we’ve seen before.

To wrap up the year, I thought I’d share my highs and lows:

HIGH: I came through the other side of cancer treatment and got to witness my extraordinary team stepping up, taking ownership and filling my shoes in my absence. They’ve made me extremely proud.

LOW: The Government’s quick-fire legislation mandating rent relief across commercial leases – never before have I seen such a lack of consultation with the industry on such a key issue.

HIGH: Being able to finally deliver the Property Council New Zealand Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards for 2021 after two postponements and a digital pivot – despite the necessary social distance it was fantastic to see so many deserving projects and talented people recognized and celebrated.

LOW: Being part of one of the world’s longest lockdowns was certainly not on my to-do list (nor anyone else’s I suspect!). It’s hard to explain to the rest of the country just how isolating and unsettling this period has been for Aucklanders. Like many, I look forward to embracing our newly found freedom by reconnecting with family and friends and can only hope that this is the last time such stringent measures are needed.

HIGH: I am beyond proud of the Property Council team this year, not only for the previously mentioned holding of the reins while I was away, but also for levelling up across all areas of the business. 

This year we welcomed new membership software, an entirely new membership and governance structure featuring seven refreshed committees and a new election process, a new brand, website, and sub-brand for each of our national events.

We also delivered a stream of webinars, allowing members across the country easy access to a huge amount of valuable content while also maintaining our in-person events and adapting to the challenges of face-to-face gatherings through alert level changes and protection framework transitions.

Our membership team worked hard to retain 85% of our membership through the change in structure while growing our community by a further 65 member companies to take our total membership numbers to 555.

Meanwhile, the heart of our business – our advocacy team – had a stunning year with the addition of Denise Lee to the team further strengthening our relationship with central government, as well as our industry leadership capability. We released the Property Impact Report, underscoring the importance of property to the New Zealand economy and the recent Industry Operational Guidelines for Determining a Fair Proportion of Rent, filling the space left by the Government. We clocked up over 300 external stakeholder meetings, 24 of which were with cabinet ministers, and we wrote official submissions on 30 different topics.

And that’s just a start.

For all its highs and lows, 2021 has been an infinite success for Property Council. We’ve proved our resilience and commitment and, above all, have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with, advocating for and celebrating our members.

From 5:00pm on Wednesday 22 December we will be closing our Auckland office to give our team a well-deserved break but will be back ready to hit the ground running from 9:00am on Monday 10 January 2022.

On behalf of the PCNZ team, thank you for your engagement, your time, and your overwhelming support this year. I wish you all a special Christmas and New Year and I look forward to being able to catch up with many of you in person next year at the Regional Property People Awards events in February and March.

There’s simply nowhere else I’d rather be, no industry I’d rather represent, and no community of people I’d rather be around than this.

Ngā mihi nui.

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