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Community Transport Providers Share $200k Fund

Eighteen community transport providers across Waikato gained a share of $209,500 from the latest round of the Waikato Regional Council Community Transport Grant fund.

Now in its second year, the fund supports community organisations that help Waikato residents with transport needs which aren’t met by the public transport network, generally in rural and remote areas or where specialised support is needed. When people need to reach hospital appointments, social services, marae and other critical amenities, these organisations are often the only means they have.

This year’s recipients support various communities across the region including Thames-Coromandel, Waihi, Paeroa, Matamata-Piako, Waipā, Ōtorohanga, Te Kūiti, Tokoroa, Raglan, Hamilton, Taupiri, Ngāruawāhia, Huntly, Te Kauwhata and beyond. The providers generally rely on volunteers, donations and community goodwill, which they use to provide significant benefits like access to healthcare, education and social opportunities when cost or distance prove too much.

The fund supports operational but not capital expenditure costs and recognises the significant ongoing community investment in the services. Last year, the 14 organisations that received funding collectively travelled 857,900 kilometres making 23,662 one-way trips, including 1,087 trips for wheelchair users in accessible vehicles. This effort is in no small part thanks to volunteer drivers who donated 52,019 hours of their time.

Waikato Regional Council’s community transport lead, Amantha Bowen, says the funding supports some important and impressive work: “If you look at the number of volunteer hours that go into these services, you can see that these organisations are working really hard on a shoestring budget. We love being able to support them to keep supporting their communities.”

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She says the selection panel recognised the significant value that volunteers produce and how important they are for keeping costs down, which in turn keeps the services sustainable. Income from this year’s fund made up almost 16 per cent of the 18 recipients’ total estimated operating budget for the year, which was just over $1,323,000.

The council’s 2024–2034 Long Term Plan includes a proposal to increase the fund to $300,000 per year, which is around 50 cents more per rating unit (household). Waikato Regional Councillor and Chair of Regional Transport Committee, Mich’eal Downard, says the committee unanimously recommended the increase based on the impressive work last year’s recipients produced and the way it complements the region’s public transport network.

Bowen encourages any organisations that are interested in applying for funding to contact the regional council for advice. The application does involve producing evidence of finances, but transport staff can assist and advise whether the fund suits an organisation’s work. If not, they may have other ways to help out.

Anyone who needs to find out about Waikato community transport services in their area should visit the community transport website:

The full list of recipients is as follows:

4H Community Trust Board

Cambridge Community House Trust

Coromandel Community Services Trust

Coromandel Independent Living Trust

Friends of Morrinsville Community Charitable Trust

Matamata Community Health Shuttle Trust

Ngā Watene Māori O Te Rohe Potae Regional Association

North Waikato Transport Trust

Paeroa Community Support Trust

Raglan District Community Vehicle Trust

Tairua Care and Friendship Club

Te Aroha Community Support Inc

Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust

The Ngāti Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust

The Order of St John Central Region Trust Board

The Order of St John Northern Region Trust Board

The Te Kauwhata & Districts Information & Support Centre

Waikato/Bay of Plenty Division Cancer Society of New Zealand

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