Learn­ing to serve the com­mu­nity

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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.

SUP­PLIED

Mata­mata-Pi­ako coun­cil­lor Brian Hunter

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