Mak­ing it easy for Waikato to grow

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - VAUGHAN PAYNE

Opin­ion: Born and raised in Opotiki I grew up lov­ing the ben­e­fits of a tight-knit com­mu­nity with a beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment. Small was good.

When I re­turned there after time away and took up the role of chief ex­ec­u­tive at Opotiki Dis­trict Coun­cil, I saw first-hand the value of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ap­proach­ing things on a larger scale through cross-boundary col­lab­o­ra­tion. Think­ing big­ger had ben­e­fits.

That broader ap­proach is also cru­cial in my cur­rent job at Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil, which has a key role manag­ing re­sources such as fresh wa­ter, land, coasts, and flood pro­tec­tion schemes.

Work­ing closely with lo­cal coun­cils, iwi and stake­hold­ers, we strive to boost our fan­tas­tic heart­land re­gion even fur­ther to en­sure we get the best re­sults for our en­vi­ron­ment, econ­omy and com­mu­ni­ties. It’s a process we call ‘‘place shap­ing’’.

Waikato peo­ple are clearly pas­sion­ate about our unique lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Our col­lec­tive iden­tity, as seen in the names of many of the places we live, are tied to key nat­u­ral fea­tures, such as our pre­cious Waikato rivers and moun­tains.

There’s col­lec­tive pride in our agri­cul­tural and busi­ness suc­cesses. Warm, wel­com­ing peo­ple and high qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture sup­port the ease of do­ing busi­ness here.

And, at a lo­cal level, I see com­mu­ni­ties - with a strong sense of them­selves and love of where they live - look­ing to de­velop.

But in some ar­eas, such as over­all eco­nomic per­for­mance and pro­tect­ing our wa­ter­ways, we can do bet­ter. We want the re­gion to op­er­ate sus­tain­ably on all fronts. Our econ­omy and com­mu­ni­ties rely on a healthy en­vi­ron­ment.

That’s where – work­ing handin-glove with oth­ers – the re­gional coun­cil is play­ing a key role.

For ex­am­ple, we’ve led de­vel­op­ment of the Waikato Story, help­ing us all to bet­ter ar­tic­u­late our value propo­si­tion, both within the re­gion and to those out­side it.

We’re sup­port­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of Waikato’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy, ini­ti­ated through the Waikato May­oral Fo­rum, and pro­vided sup­port for de­vel­op­ment of the nearly fi­nalised Waikato Plan to guide the re­gion’s fu­ture. We’re also start­ing to build up a re­gional de­vel­op­ment fund.

The three Cs - col­lab­o­ra­tion, co-op­er­a­tion and co-or­di­na­tion – are es­sen­tial in all this. They’ve al­ready pro­duced very tan­gi­ble re­gion wide re­sults such as: $2 bil­lion for the Waikato Ex­press­way; $215 mil­lion of Crown fund­ing for land trans­port ini­tia­tives; and $81 mil­lion to pro­tect Lake Taupo.

Soon we’ll see the de­tail of ex­ten­sive co-op­er­a­tive work to fur­ther pro­tect the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers as the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora pro­ject comes to a head.

Vaughan Payne is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil.

Vaughan Payne

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