With the recent formation of our new government we are, yet again, faced with the opportunity of central government funding and resources that we need to be ready to grab and leverage off. How are we placed and positioned to respond? If we aren’t prepared, could it be another chance that floats passed our mighty region that we fail to embrace and harness; missing our stepping stones to excellence and continued aspiration and global outperformance?
There’s a minimum of $1 billion up for grabs for the regions. Yes, a one followed by nine zeros is being allocated to the regions, every year. How do we get our share? What is or should be our share? Waiting and hoping some will come our way is not an option.
Currently we are faced with the risk of losing opportunities such as the Waikeria Prison expansion, the medical school, Southern Links, rural GP’s. Meanwhile, there’s talk of increasing Hamilton City’s rates by 16.5% pa to fund growth – is that aspirational?
Yes, we might get $25 million for our regional theatre; $25M for regional rail; $25M for regional facilities; $25M for.... But as a region and significant contributor to New Zealand Inc. how do we leverage opportunity? As a region do we have a clear aspirational view of opportunity, or a clear view of what is needed, or are we reactive? While it is important for each area within the region to look after its community and local flavour, it is absolutely essential to reduce our fragmentation. The need to come together and be organised as one and singing a similar song, particularly in the sub-region, has never been more necessary.
Imagine if $25 million were added to the Peacocke bridge to make a statement to all in the Waikato, New Zealand and beyond that we are aspirational; that we are mighty. Imagine if $200 million p.a. were focused on the mighty Waikato. Mighty for our contribution to NZ Inc. Mighty in high performance sport, agriculture, manufacturing, bloodstock. Mighty place to live, work and play. Mighty in our vision and ability to make it happen.
Imagine if the bridge on State Highway One crossing the mighty Waikato River was a true entrance to Hamilton rather than an inconvenient river-crossing of the serpentine motorway making its way through our region. Imagine if the Cambridge bypass was a thing of inspiration rather than “just a bypass”. Imagine if our landscapes and natural heritage were something we revered and were inspired by. What is our inspiration for Te Kauwhata, Tirau, Kawhia, Cambridge, Morrinsville, Matamata, Hamilton or Huntly?
We have the opportunity to fund our aspirations if only we are united, focused and inspirational.
There is hope with the Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency on its way. However, we can’t sit back and think this is our only golden ticket. Agenda Waikato, the recently formed independent business-led think tank, has commissioned a large research project that aims to pull all the data in the region to one pot under the categories Live, Work, Play. The data will be regularly updated so it is consistent, usable by all, and relevant. Gaps and opportunities will be identified. This project is showing collaboration and is another way to bring the region together. Imagine what can be achieved with aspiration and inspiration supported by evidence.
Mighty Waikato. Imagine and execute. Let’s get our share and make it count.
Chairman of Agenda Waikato
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