Learning to serve the community
The continues its local government election coverage. This week Matamata Ward candidate Brian Hunter discusses the positives on being part of a small community.
I’ve often referred to my past term on Matamata-Piako District Council as an apprenticeship and it was certainly all of that. I have learned so much and still have much more to learn.
One of the first lessons involved careful stewarding of the public purse; spending ratepayers’ money in a fair and equitable way across the district and knowing that it is impossible to please everyone.
The council has taken pride in keeping rates down as far as possible while working hard to provide facilities that meet needs as far as possible and get best value for money.
We know Matamata is growing – around a 1000 net population gain between the last two censuses. We also know that we have an ageing population and that we need to look to those future needs.
We need to attract and keep young families in Matamata and this is where the best facilities – educational sporting and cultural – that we, the community, can provide is pivotal in doing so.
It was a job opportunity that brought me, with my wife Sandra and three young sons to Matamata 40 years ago; this fulfilling a long-held desire to leave the city and raise our family in a small rural town with all the lifestyle advantages that this had to offer.
It is the best decision we ever made and I want other young families to have that same opportunity; for this, we need to ensure that there are job opportunities and housing for them. We need businesses and industry to continue seeing Matamata as an attractive location to set up shop, to see the potential in setting down roots in this progressive area.
We will need to ensure there is plenty of land and services to ‘seed and grow’ such businesses and, as far as possible, to smooth the way forward for development.
And, of course, the need for land for building new homes is ongoing; with new residential developments goes the need for related services – water, sewage, footpaths and roads etc. Again, we need to ensure that this process is as obstacle-free as realistically possible for developers.
Matamata continues to grow as a destination for both domestic and overseas tourists – principally thanks to the Hobbiton movie location site - and I congratulate the individuals and organisations that have worked so hard to maximise this and which continue to explore other avenues of attracting people to our town.
As a district, we have much to offer visitors with our three towns offering diverse opportunities for recreation and relaxation.
We talk about ‘serving’ on the council and to serve the community is an absolute privilege.
Matamata-Piako councillor Brian Hunter