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