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Wairarapa economic strategy benefits whole region

Today’s release of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy should be a turning point in the fortunes of Wairarapa, which has all the ingredients for strong growth and future economic success says Greater Wellington Regional Councillor and Wellington Regional Strategy Committee Deputy Chair Roger Blakeley.

“But positive impact of the strategy won’t be confined to Wairarapa. The region’s integration into the greater Wellington economy means that benefits for one part of the region have a positive impact elsewhere.”

Cr Blakeley says that having funded and been closely involved in the development of the strategy, Greater Wellington is keen to work with Wairarapa councils and the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency to turn its proposals into reality.

He says the regional council is fully behind the strategy’s sector-based approach to building regional prosperity through focusing on developing key tourism, added-value food production and knowledge intensive industries.

“From an economic development perspective, this is a win-win for the region. For example, activities such as intensive forestry in Wairarapa will lead to higher volumes of logs flowing through to Wellington’s CentrePort. Value added products – a key focus of the strategy – will complement the high volume commodity business, perhaps with further value being added in the capital en route to export markets.”

Development of tourism opportunities in Wairarapa such as the Five Towns cycle trail will link to broader regional initiatives such as the Rimutaka Cycle Trail. Initiatives such as these will provide a seamless experience for tourists, and strong opportunities for associated business development in areas such as food, accommodation and other attractions.

“While the prosperity generated by the strategy will strongly benefit Wairarapa it will also flow into the broader region.”

Though the prime focus of the strategy is economic development it also addresses the related matter of maintaining a healthy, sustainable environment.

“We strongly support the strategy’s focus on using forestry to stabilise farmland and protect water courses. We’re looking towards working with the One Billion Trees programme to kick start further investment,” says Cr Blakeley.

“We have a role to play in the environmental implications of intensive forestry through our long history of providing land management services to local farmers looking to balance their commercial and economic interests, and we expect this to grow as forestry becomes even more established in Wairarapa.

“The same applies to water quality and availability in Wairarapa. We have long been investigating storage options for the region, an issue that is central to regional horticulture and arable farming, as well as urban use. Settling the issue of the availability of water to power regional economic development will be essential and require community consensus.”

“Of one thing I am absolutely certain. This strategy is not about words on paper, it’s about establishing the right platform for action grounded in a clear understanding of the potential of the region. Now is the time to build the case for funding the many initiatives in the strategy and approach potential funders such as the Provincial Growth Fund and the private sector for support to make things happen for the whole region,” says Cr Blakeley.

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