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Quality of life in Waikato overall positive, but dropping: report

Published: 27/06/2019

While Waikato people rate their overall quality of life positively, the numbers have continued to drop over the past decade, says a Waikato Regional Council report released today.

The Waikato Progress Indicators – Tupuranga Waikato (WPI) report is part of an annual council series which takes the region’s pulse across a wide variety of issues.

WPI measures 32 key environmental, social and economic indicators which are regularly updated and analysed to identify changes and trends over time.

During today’s meeting, councillors heard that, compared to the New Zealand average, Waikato has a relatively high percentage of te reo Māori speakers, a high level of social connectedness, and above-average levels of community engagement, life satisfaction, community pride and employment.

However, the Waikato is behind the national average on a range of economic, social and environmental wellbeing indicators, including crime, cultural respect, road safety, voter turnout, GDP, recycling and educational attainment.

“The results of the WPI programme provide a robust basis for discussing regional challenges and opportunities and identifying priorities for closer collaboration and partnerships,” said council chair Alan Livingston.

“It also provides an evidence base for us to work with the Government on its wellbeing agenda.”

Over the past 10 years in the Waikato air quality has improved, average incomes are higher, educational attainment has improved and there’s been an increase in building activity.

Despite a horror couple of years on our region’s roads, road safety – measured as the social cost of road injury crashes – has improved over the past decade.

However, there were some locally concerning trends, councillors heard.

While people rate their life satisfaction positive on the whole, the drop compared with 10 years ago is mainly due to poor health, less physical activity, financial issues, and a lessening feeling of pride about the look and feel of their local area.

“There is some work we already have underway which has the potential to turn things around. For example our environmental and planning work to improve fresh water quality, catchments and harbours, the push to active modes of transport to enhance physical activity, as well as working together with our iwi partners, government and our communities to enhance community wellbeing,” he said.

The report also found that while older people rate their life more positively, respondents under 25 are more likely to say they felt unsafe to walk alone in their neighbourhood after dark. They are also less likely to feel a sense of community with others in their neighbourhood, and less likely to feel pride in the way their town looks.

“What I do find really disappointing from the results is that fewer people can see the benefits of having people with different lifestyles and cultures where they live. That’s something we all have to work together to change,” Cr Livingston said.

To read the full report, visit waikatoregion.govt.nz/wpi.