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Jamie Strange
Jamie Strange

By Jamie Strange, Labour List MP

Growth continues to take place in the Waikato region. Here I will focus on three key areas: transport, education and the Provincial Growth Fund.

Growth continues to take place in the Waikato region. Here I will focus on three key areas: transport, education and the Provincial Growth Fund.

Passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland, due to begin in July next year, is going full steam ahead. Yesterday, the NZTA approved funding for construction of this rail service. It includes construction and operation with funding of $92.37 million, made up of $79.80 million from the Transport Agency and $12.57 million from local authorities.

Two key components of this rail service will be the ability to be productive while travelling, and having certainty of arrival time.

Alongside this, the Ministry of Transport is undertaking a business case to explore rapid rail (around one-hour journey) between Hamilton and Auckland. This business case will be completed in April 2020.

Rototuna Junior and Senior High Schools will receive a combined $16 million expansion for 500 extra students across the two schools, while 30 other Waikato schools will receive 79 classrooms. This Government investment totals $42 million, and includes three kura, who will receive 12 new classrooms.

The Waikato regional growth plan is part of the wider National Education Growth Plan which forecasts that an additional 100,000 new student places are needed across the country by 2030. This plan was supported by $1.2 billion in the recent Wellbeing Budget.

Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins recently approved Hamilton Christian School’s application to enter into negotiations with the Ministry of Education, as they look to become state integrated. This would significantly reduce the fees, making it accessible to more families.

Futureproof have combined with the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor team, in order to collaboratively plan the future growth in our region. The Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan maps development between Cambridge/Te Awamutu in the south and Pukekohe in the north. This corridor is the busiest in New Zealand and will be a key economic growth area over the coming years.

As providing a range of transport options is vital for a growing region, the Hamilton City Council is undertaking work to explore the potential of a Hamilton metro rail network linking Hamilton with Ngaruawahia/Huntly, Morrinsville, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, and Hamilton Airport. Tracks are already in place for the majority of this area, and a feasibility study will explore what it would take to have passenger rail service this area.

Good progress continues on the completion of the Waikato Expressway. It’s important we have a balanced transport network, combining road and rail in the most efficient and accessible manner.

Work has begun on the completion of the Hamilton Ring Road and a bridge across the Waikato River near Hamilton Gardens. This will unlock the 8,500-house Peacocke development through $180 million from the Government’s 10-year interest-free loan and $110 million of NZTA subsidies.

Three successful Waikato-based Provincial Growth Fund applications were recently announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Smart Waikato’s Secondary School Employer Partnership has received $449,000. This programme connects students with local businesses, providing a real-world context to their education.

Te Waka, Waikato’s economic development agency, has received $400,000 to ensure it has sufficient capacity and access to resources and systems, for promoting economic growth in our region.

Paeroa has been granted $700,000 for their Historical Maritime Park Marine development project, including the construction of pontoons and a wharf.

The Waikato region continues to play a key role in New Zealand’s economy. I’m proud of who we are as a region.

Jamie Strange, Labour List MP based in Hamilton

jamie.strange@parliament.govt.nz  www.facebook.com/jamiestrangemp

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Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this column, ViewPoint are the personal opinions of the writer, and do not reflect the views of NewsViews nor does it ascribe to these in any manner. NewsViews and/or persons associated with it, also do not assume any responsibility or liability, if any, arising out of the views expressed here by the writer. ViewPoint is ‘by invitation’ only opinion column.

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One thought on “Opinion: Waikato plays key role in NZ economy, says Jamie Strange”

  1. When does someone start to acknowledge that we cannot simply continue growing in a finite world and instead of touting more and more growth, begins to tackle the even harder question of how we thrive without it. Honestly, I am beginning to despair of all politicians.

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