‘A great place to live’

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By PET­RICE TARRANT

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.’’

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