Hob­biton im­presses deputy PM

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

Paula Ben­nett found her­self in a bit of a hole. A Hob­bit hole. A visit to the Hob­biton Movie Set and the Mata­mata Po­lice Sta­tion were two items on her agenda as part of a tour of the Waikato elec­torate.

The deputy prime min­is­ter, who is also the min­is­ter of po­lice and tourism, toured the elec­torate with MP Lind­say Tisch last Thurs­day.

It also gave her a chance to meet Na­tional’s can­di­date for the elec­torate, Tim van de Molen who will con­test the Waikato seat when Tisch re­tires from pol­i­tics.

Ben­nett, Tisch and van de Molen were shown around the movie set by its gen­eral man­ager Rus­sell Alexander.

Ben­nett has been the tourism min­is­ter since De­cem­ber and it was her first visit to Hob­biton.

‘‘I am ab­so­lutely im­pressed and amazed. Just the level of de­tail and ex­pe­ri­ence we are giv­ing to our vis­i­tors.’’

It is pre­dicted Hob­biton has the po­ten­tial to con­tinue be­ing a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion for an­other 50 years.

Hamil­ton and Waikato Tour­sim Chief Ex­ec­u­tive says the movie set’s longevity de­pended on how well Mata­mata em­braced the op­por­tu­nity, as the gate­way to the at­trac­tion.

Ben­nett says she is con­fi­dent Mata­mata is al­ready tak­ing ad­van­tage of that growth, with min­i­mal in­put from cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

‘‘I am very im­pressed with Mata­mata. They shouldn’t rely on cen­tral gov­ern­ment. From what I can see busi­ness is boom­ing, they have taken ad­van­tage of the in­flux of vis­i­tors and good on them.

‘‘That’s ex­actly what we want to see, busi­nesses thriv­ing, peo­ple be­ing em­ployed.’’

Along with learn­ing about tourism, she was ex­cited to meet the po­lice and see what ini­tia­tives staff had to sup­port the com­mu­nity. How­ever the me­dia was not in­vited to visit the Mata­mata Po­lice sta­tion with her.

‘‘They have great ini­tia­tives on work­ing with young peo­ple. There are new ini­tia­tives there that I am ex­cited to hear about.’’

She says the roll out of ad­di­tional po­lice staff would make a dif­fer­ence.

‘‘I am thrilled we have an­nounced an­other 1100 po­lice staff to all dis­tricts in New Zealand.

‘‘The com­mis­sioner is yet to make an an­nounce­ment as to where they will be sta­tioned.’’

SUP­PLIED

Lind­say Tisch, deputy PM Paula Ben­nett, Hob­biton man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rus­sell Alexander and Tim van de Molen.

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