Mayor's Column for July 2017

Wednesday, 05 July 2017
Welcome to this month’s column.

Firstly can I congratulate “Legendary Te Kuiti” on the fantastic day last month with the opening of the Meads Brothers Gallery, and the unveiling of the Sir Colin Meads statue. This was a brilliant day, and I have had incredible feedback nationally about this tribute. Everywhere I go around the country people are talking about this event, and the media coverage has been huge.

A steady stream of visitors has been visiting both the statue and exhibition, and reports have been very complementary about the quality of both. A big thank you to all of you who attended the opening, and supported this project financially, we have been blown away with the fantastic support. I must also mention a big thank you to the group of volunteers who are manning the exhibition each day to welcome visitors and guide them through the exhibition.

Youth Events

I recently held a meeting of the “Waitomo Youth Advisory” committee which I Chair, that was set up in 2011 at the start of the Waitomo Social Sector Trials, and continues to operate even though the Trials finished last December. This group is made up of representations of Govt agencies (MSD, Police, Justice, Education, and Health) along with local community members. The role of this committee is to continue to work with Govt agencies to make sure they are delivering what they say they will, and look at innovative ways to support our variety of youth programs, as well as support Hilary Karaitiana and the “No 12” youth hub deliver her many programs that are very beneficial, and highly valued by our young people.

We are, I believe very fortunate to have large numbers of our wider community involved in offering great opportunities for our young people who live here. Sporting activities take place most afternoons, largely run by volunteers. A new youth council has had its first meeting last week, and we are working with these young people to lead a youth focus to input into our next Long Term Plan, with some specific focus on a young person’s view on their needs for a vibrant community, including such topics as youth events, and recreational needs.

There are many organisations offering youth further education programs locally, such as Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust, Wintec, and Te Wananga O Aotearoa. The University of Waikato daily bus offers the opportunity of University studies in Hamilton, and currently has up to 35 local students from Waitomo and Otorohanga districts using this service. No 12 is helping young people gain their learner drivers licence, and also delivers, alongside the Te Kuiti Community House, a combined Waitomo/ Otorohanga driver training program aimed at attaining restricted drivers licences. This is a very successful program, supported by NZTA and both councils, and as we all know, a restricted driver licence is a prerequisite to getting jobs in rural areas. Service clubs such as Rotary and Lions are also involved in supporting youth in our districts.

I note recent reports of outstanding sporting achievements by young athletes in our district, and I congratulate these young people. Sport Waikato is a key ingredient in delivering opportunities for our youth, as well as our wider community, and WDC is committed to supporting Dede Downs and her team who do make a huge difference in our community.

These are just a few of the initiatives that we work with to help our young people to get ahead. There will always be more we could do, and my door is always open to suggestions, so if there is something that anyone thinks may be a worthwhile service or project, don’t hesitate to contact myself or other community leaders with your ideas.