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There’s no place like home

Next week we will welcome another 60 citizens, who have chosen to call our beautiful district, and New Zealand, their home.  

Waikato is the heart of New Zealand’s golden triangle. It has amazing opportunities for economic growth and is a place where people and families can thrive. 

Did you know that Council owns and maintains 229 hectares of sports and recreation areas? That’s around 229 rugby fields! The size of our district is more than 400,000 hectares with 1,289 hectares of natural reserves. We have 6 libraries with more than 85,000 books, 60 playgrounds for youngsters to enjoy, and 42 community centres and town halls to help bring our communities together.  

Council’s vision is to create liveable, thriving, and connected communities. A lot of growth has come to our district and your communities over the past ten years. We have changed so much in such a short amount of time, and it doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon!  

Council’s role is to maximise these opportunities for development and growth, whilst protecting and enhancing our rural values, ways of life, and business sustainability. Not always an easy balance to achieve. 

You would have seen in our recently adopted annual plan that our district is now home to almost 89,000 people. As a comparison, ten years ago the population was 58,459

Growth, both Council planned and unplanned, provides great opportunities, like employment. However, it can also potentially change our communities in ways we didn’t anticipate. As your mayor, Council and I will always have your needs at the forefront of our thinking, planning, and decision making. Always considering the best outcomes possible from the budget, resources, and finances available. 

As a Council we are always keen to hear from you and we regularly invite you to help us shape decisions that impact on our communities. Right now, we’re consulting on our proposed Freedom Camping Bylaw. The Proposed Bylaw gives self-contained freedom campers the right to stay in our district, while also protecting the environmental, social, cultural and economic values of our communities. Again, it’s about striking the right balance. 

Proposed changes include increasing the number of nights self-contained freedom campers can stay in one area, and changes to freedom camping areas in Ngaaruawaahia, Port Waikato, Raglan and Te Kauwhata. 

We know our communities have a lot of interest in freedom camping, particularly in the areas of Raglan, Ngaaruawaahia and Port Waikato, so we encourage you to have your say. Consultation closes at 5pm on Monday 14 August.  

We are also asking you for your feedback on our Community Facilities Strategy. This is part of our early engagement to help Council staff form a future picture for our community facilities. This includes things like our sports fields, pools, libraries, and halls, which we know are all important facilities frequently used by our communities. Let us know your ideas of how we can keep improving these things to add value to you and your community. Consultation closes on Sunday 13 August.  

Another area where we are asking for feedback is around our Connectivity Strategy. This will provide strategic direction for the development of trails over the next five years. Walking, cycling and horse riding can benefit a person’s overall well-being, and can provide opportunities to explore and play in our beautiful district. We want to know what type of trails you use most, how often you use them and what’s important to you. Consultation closes on Sunday 13 August.  

More information on these strategies can be found here

To hear more about what Council is doing, keep an eye on our website or Facebook page. You can also tune in to hear my fortnightly interview on FreeFM on Wednesday morning. 

I look forward to officially welcoming our new citizens next week. I am so thrilled you have chosen the Waikato district as your home! I encourage you to get involved and have your say about the things that matter to you.  

Ngaa mihi nui and warmest regards,  

Mayor Jacqui Church