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Published: 2015-06-15 00:00:00

Issued by the Waikato Mayoral Forum, which the regional council chair is part of
A high class team of Waikato business and political leaders has been appointed to oversee the implementation of a ground-breaking economic development strategy prepared under the auspices of the Waikato Mayoral Forum.

The governance group for Waikato Means Business includes Stainless Design chairman John Cook (chair), Federation of Maori Authorities chair Traci Houpapa, Waikato Tainui CEO Parekawhia McLean (deputy chair), and Hamilton and Waikato Tourism director Don Scarlet, who all helped develop the plan. They have been joined on the project’s governance group for the implementation phase by Wintec CEO Mark Flowers, Fonterra director Michael Spaans, Gallagher corporate services executive Margaret Comer and Enterprise Great Lake Taupo board member Tom Findlay.

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker and Waikato Regional Council policy and strategy committee chair Bob Simcock are the other members.

The new group was discussed at today’s mayoral forum meeting in Hamilton.

“This is a great team of leaders to take us through the next phase of implementing this important strategy,” said forum chair Allan Sanson, the mayor of Waikato district.

The first meeting of the newly constituted governance group is due next month. It will be briefed on implementation actions already underway and consider some potential high level actions for the next phase of work.

The implementation plan for the strategy has identified seven actions:

  • Developing the Ruakura Hub inland port
  • Completing the Waikato Expressway
  • Creating a new Waikato Plan for the region
  • Undertaking a study of constraints on growth and future investment opportunities
  • Improving the supply of and demand for skilled labour
  • Reducing local government red tape for business
  • Creating a better Waikato marketing “story” to help facilitate growth

The Ruakura Hub proposal is under ongoing development, while funding for the entire expressway has now been confirmed by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The development of a Waikato Spatial Plan, a 30 year vision for the region, is being carried out under the guidance of a joint committee made up of representatives of councils from across the Waikato, with private sector input.

A number of workshops have been held across the Waikato to take in views on the story the region should tell about itself for marketing purposes. The story’s development, being paid for by the regional council, is expected to be completed mid-year.

A strategy looking at the supply of and demand for labour has been completed by a public and private sector steering group and details are expected to be announced shortly.

A number of councils have begun working together on how they can reduce red tape for business wanting to set up or expand in the Waikato.

The forum is also awaiting the outcome of an approach to central Government for support in the development of a detailed study on how to further drive growth in the region. Such studies have been undertaken in a number of other North Island regions in recent years.

The current implementation plan work is being funded by existing private and public sector commitments. Recently, Waikato Regional Council gave approval in principle to funding $350,000 a year for the next ten years for the implementation of Waikato Means Business. The council’s funding plan is subject to sign off at the end of June.

Mr Sanson said the developments were a strong sign of the collaborative approach being taken by a range of parties to boosting the Waikato region’s prosperity.

“It’s essential that we maintain our co-operation and make progress across a range of fronts to make our region as successful as it can be.”

Meanwhile, the forum was briefed on a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment proposal to work with councils to help them standardize local council building consenting processes. There was potential for Waikato councils to be involved in a programme to look at this with a view to increasing efficiency and cutting costs, the forum heard.

“There is a general need to reduce costs and consenting decision times, and to increase standardisation, for the benefit of all. So participation in this programme, once details are finalised, could be worthwhile,” said South Waikato District Council CEO Craig Hobbs, from the forum’s regulatory, bylaws and policy workstream.

Information on the implementation plan and the forum’s work is available at