It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day

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As we start a new year and a new decade, I found myself reflecting on the last 12 months and thinking about what motivates me to get out of bed in the morning.

Naturally, my family was the first thing that came to mind. Surf ski paddling has been a passion of mine for more than 40 years and I enjoy the tranquility of my evening training sessions on the Waikato River.

More recently, I was honoured to be invited to join the Haeata Waka Ama team, which recently medalled in the 2020 National Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro.

But when I’m not paddling my own waka, I am motivated and inspired each day by the opportunity my team and I have to help the Waikato region thrive.

Improving the wellbeing and prosperity of Waikato communities is at the heart of what we do.

It’s a big job. But our responsibilities essentially boil down to delivering on three key priorities for our region – building infrastructure, growing capability and attracting investment.

We didn’t just pluck these priorities out of thin air. Instead, they represent what more than 250 of the region’s business, iwi and community leaders believe is essential for Waikato to thrive.

These three themes capture the essence of the Waikato 2018-2022 Regional Economic Growth Programme, which we launched in November 2018. Since then, Te Waka has been working hard to ensure all the talking and planning translates into action and gets results. So we’re sharpening our aim.

Let’s talk infrastructure. We need a strong platform of infrastructure to support our region’s growth. That means making sure Waikato is well-connected to the rest of the country and the world by road, air, rail and sea.

Te Waka is playing a leadership role, talking with key Government officials, promoting Waikato’s infrastructure needs, and providing a voice for the region on the project team for major projects, such as the Hamilton-Waikato Metro Spatial Plan.

Securing land for business and housing development is also a priority. Te Waka is connecting businesses with the right people at local councils to help break down any barriers to business development and growth in our region.

We’re also tackling the issue of housing availability and affordability.

The Waikato Region Housing Initiative – 2018 Housing Stocktake showed that the Waikato needs 51,000 more houses in the next 25 years. We already have a shortfall of 7500, with 4500 of those in Hamilton alone.

Te Waka is part of the working group driving the Regional Housing Initiative, which is charged with finding solutions to address the issue.

Housing solutions, like that proposed at Te Awa Lakes, will play a significant role in helping Hamilton address its housing needs, in terms of both supply and affordability. Te Waka helps ensure these solutions are sustainable and contribute to improving the well-being of our
communities.

A thriving economy also relies on strong and consistent energy, fibre and telecommunications networks. This is where the Digital 2025 Waikato Strategy comes into play because it’s all about creating a digitally well-connected region. Te Waka funds Waikato’s tech sector lead, CultivateIT, to deliver on this strategy.

To this end, we’re talking with councils and key players in our local electricity and telecommunications industries to make sure we have the infrastructure and capacity to support our region’s growth.

The nature of Te Waka’s business means we do a lot of talking, relationship building and planning. Our job is to lead, connect and enable. Rest assured, we are taking action and we are getting results. I am committed to keeping you up-to-date on our progress.

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Michael Bassett-Foss