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Mayors Commit To A Greater Regional Approach

Manawatū-Whanganui Mayors and Chief Executives are taking a regional approach to challenges and opportunities facing the area.

All Mayors, most Deputy Mayors and Chief Executives across the Horizons region spent two days discussing and workshopping a range of topics.

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said it was heartening to see all seven districts agreeing to step-up the cooperation already underway and work even closer together.

“A good example is around the Accelerate25 Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan opportunities where Ruapehu has been leading regional tourism development with the goal of lifting visitor expenditure to $400m per year by 2028,” he said.

“The benefits of working together with a regional outlook can be seen in the success of the Sky Waka gondola on Mt Ruapehu which would not have got off the ground without this approach.

This was clearly acknowledged by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones when he announced government’s $10m contribution toward the project from the Provincial Growth Fund.”

Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson said it was great to hear what other councils are doing in the region.

“While we are all working to improve the lives of our communities in our districts and cities, as a region we have recognised we can do better working together.”

Palmerston North May Grant Smith said the region has performed well in recent years.

“Over the period December 2017 to December 2019, the regional economy grew by 6.1% versus 5.5% for New Zealand. Additionally our regional population has increased by 1.4% over the past year. This growth brings many positives, but also issues for our communities. As a region we know we will be stronger confronting these together,” he said.

The group workshopped the top priorities they would focus on as a collective for the next 12 months, deciding on a final five. These included:

· Sharing data and ensuring the region’s wellbeing is being captured accurately

· Reviewing the Accelerate25 Strategy

· Identifying and mitigating the effects of climate change

· Creating a regional spatial plan

· Developing an identity as a strong economic and tourism destination.

Manawatū Mayor Helen Worboys said there was also a clear commitment regionally to improve iwi partnerships.

“We are all aware that we can better enhance our partnerships with tangata whenua and we recognised this needs to be done at a local level.”

All Mayors signed an agreement called the Makoura Agreement demonstrating the commitment to the way forward.

The priorities will be a standing item on the regional chief executive meeting, which is held quarterly.

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