Can tourism re­place dairy?

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - MIKE BAIN

Tourism and the de­vel­op­ment of an in­dus­trial precinct stand as two eco­nomic driv­ers which could help pro­vide new jobs and growth in Mata­mata.

It’s part of a plan Mata­mataPi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil, led by mayor Jan Barnes, is keen to pur­sue and it re­mains ea­ger to dis­cuss op­tions to bring de­vel­op­ment which in­creases em­ploy­ment and eco­nomic growth.

Re­gion­ally the Mata­mata- Pi­ako re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant pro­ducer con­tribut­ing 0.8 per cent of the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct mainly through dairy and meat pro­duc­tion.

But Barnes is aware the dis­trict’s pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing and with it the need to look for eco­nomic driv­ers other than the pri­mary in­dus­try to pro­vide jobs for her peo­ple.

It comes as the coun­cil’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment work­ing party iden­ti­fied the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the dairy in­dus­try.

Coun­cil wanted to en­sure sta­bil­ity for fu­ture in­vest­ment, pro­vide cer­tainty and clar­ity for de­ci­sion mak­ing, re­main proac­tive and ready to re­spond to in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘‘There are a dozen ob­jec­tives un­der­way and when the new coun­cil is brought up to speed, we will look to progress those eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives,’’ said Barnes.

Those ini­tia­tives in­clude tourism, in­dus­trial land avail­abil­ity and in­fras­truc­tural and com- mu­ni­ca­tion needs. The rail trail ex­ten­sion from Te Aroha to Mata­mata, even­tu­ally link­ing the Te Awa Trail to Hamil­ton, could be a bonus.

Re­main­ing es­sen­tial is the sup­port of the three ma­jor towns’ (Mor­rinsville, Te Aroha and Mata­mata) mu­se­ums and the Wal­lace Art Gallery, cou­pled with fi­nan­cial sup­port for re­gional pro­mo­tion through Tourism Waikato and the i-SITE net­work.

In or­der to at­tract in­dus­try cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment, a review of the coun­cil’s de­vel­op­ment strat­egy for its three towns is un­der­way and a pro­posed ex­ten­sion to land zoned in­dus­trial is open for pub­lic com­ment.

De­vel­op­ment and ex­ten­sion of in­fra­struc­ture is part of a study to de­ter­mine whether Wa­haroa could be­come an in­dus­trial cen­tre. Barnes said it could in­volve sim­i­lar work on past projects, where the coun­cil worked with busi­ness to de­velop water and waste­water schemes for Mor­rinsville and Te Aroha.

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