‘A great place to live’
South Waikato District Council Mayor Neil Sinclair said the 2013 Census results are disheartening.
‘‘I’m disappointed that we lost 21⁄ per cent but I recog
2 nise that it is a thing that has happened with all rural towns. Kawerau dropped 8 per cent and Wairoa 7 per cent.’’
Population figures from the 2013 Census released by Statistics New Zealand reveal smaller centres, including Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Waitomo, are experiencing an ongoing exodus.
Since the last census in 2006, to date it showed South Waikato’s population drop by 573 people.
Mr Sinclair said council can’t boost population numbers on its own.
‘‘People of South Waikato have to positively promote the district telling people it is a good place to live.
‘‘I as mayor say this is a great place to live.
‘‘We need every resident and ratepayer to step up and be part of our promotion.’’
Overall, the Waikato region had the country’s third-fastest expansion of 6 per cent – up 22,815 to 403,638 – behind Auckland (up 8.5 per cent to more than 1.4 million) and Nelson (up 8.3 per cent to 46,437).
The country’s total population grew by 214,101 to 4,242,048 since 2006.
However, the director of Waikato University’s national institute of demographic and economic analysis, Professor Natalie Jackson, said 75 per cent of that growth occurred in Auckland and 11 other cities – and that would cost rural New Zealand.
‘‘At a national level, everybody is lauding all of the growth in Auckland but the rest of the country has got to deal with it,’’ said Prof Jackson.
She said the growth in the Waikato region was ‘‘quite magnificent’’ but three of the district councils in its boundaries had experienced a decline.
Hauraki was down 0.3 per cent, South Waikato down 2.5 per cent and Waitomo dropped 5.6 per cent.
Thames-Coromandel, with a growth of 0.9 per cent, showed a decline in eight of its 12 monitored areas while 10 out of South Waikato’s 16 area units showed a reduced population.
‘‘The district councils have got to deal with these areas that are not growing and it’s all lumped on to them as if somehow it is their fault,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s not gloom and doom as much as realisation, and this is to me confirmation of the reality of regional decline and that trend continuing.’’
The declining population is a major reason behind the council’s drive for more jobs and better promotion, however, Mr Sinclair said it would be more effective coming from the top. ‘‘We would love to see government have a regional encouragement policy so that the rural drift to large urban centres is halted.’’