Last week the Minister of Education, Hon. Hekia Parata, announced the intention to build two new schools in the North-East suburbs of Hamilton.
This will come as good news to many residents that have been advocating for new schools, especially in the provision of Years 7-13 educational opportunities. I would like to thank all those involved in the process and who have advocated strongly for these schools. In particular to the North-East Schools Action Group (NESAG) that has been so supportive of these schools.
The Minister’s announced proposals for a new primary school to open in 2015 and aiming for the Years 7-13 school to open in 2016. These are tight deadlines as consultation needs to be undertaken with the community under the relevant legislation and then once the decisions are finalised, construction to commence and be completed.
In coming to the conclusion to build the news schools there are two main factors the government has to take in to account. First, the number of students in the relevant area and secondly the impact on the wider schooling network.
The first issue as to the number of students in the area has been the major issue for the provision of Year’s 7-13 education. The Years 7-13 school would be a large school and so needs a big co-hort to proceed. The growth the North-East of Hamilton has enabled the Ministry to now propose these schools, previously, we have not had sufficient numbers for the Years 7-13 secondary school.
At the primary school level the student number increase has been phenomenal. Currently there are approximately 1900 primary school age students in North-East Hamilton, but that number is projected to grow to around 2500 students by 2016.
The progress towards these announcements has been a step by step process. A critical step was in 2010 when the newly elected National Government purchased the land for the new secondary school. This was the first concrete step in providing for this school. Several reports later we now celebrate the second major step the Minister’s announcement of the opening of the consultation periods. This recent announcement is the crucial step in the process and we are very lucky to have such an announcement in such difficult times.
Some of our political opponents have argued the secondary school has been delayed when that is not the case. The previous Labour government knew of the need around the delivery of Years 7-13 and did nothing when they had the chance to do so. The National Government on the other hand had purchased the land and now recently secured the all-important Ministerial approval to proceed with consultation.
The decisions taken last week depend heavily on the number of students in the area and although primary school provision is easily achieved, the secondary provision has been harder to achieve the required numbers of students. There has to been no such delay and we have worked hard to achieve these decisions made recently and they represent a big achievement for all involved.
The consultation period is an important time for the community to be involved. For the primary school this involves issues such as location of the school and this will take place over the next few months.
The Year’s 7-13 consultation this is more detailed and will take place between August– September this year. Parents should aim to be involved in this consultation and the first issue will be, the type of school, namely, the type of provision for Years 7-13. This could be done in a variety of ways such as: a full Year 7-13 school; an intermediate-secondary school or a middle-senior school scenario.
Secondly, the individual years with which the school commences. There are a number of options including: Year 7; Years 7 and 8; Years 7 to 9; and so forth. Thirdly, the actual zone of the school, this is about which areas are to be considered in or out of zone.
We encourage parents and members of the community to actively involved in this consultation later in the year. The announcements last week are the most important step in building of these new schools, now it’s up to the public to consider how it wishes for these schools to be delivered.
Hamilton is experiencing good growth at this time. We have cranes over our central city, expanded housing developments in the North-East and growing commercial construction in the Te Rapa North area. Overall, the growth looks good and will continue in the future.
There are some key contributors to this growth. First, is our location. Hamilton is the largest city that is close to Auckland. Auckland will be a large city in New Zealand terms in a very short period of time. It will dwarf the rest of the country on a population and economic basis. This is good news for Hamilton, however it does raise some challenges, namely the expansion of Auckland will create a dilemma in the population distribution in New Zealand. It also creates social and infrastructural issues for a Government.
The growth of the Pacific Rim countries will also make Auckland a world class city with world class property prices. Hamilton will indirectly benefit from this as well, but we will also face similar challenges.
Secondly, the infrastructural investment in our city has been crucial to its growth. The investment this Government has made in the Waikato Expressway, the internal Ring Route Road, the hospital development and the ultra-fast fibre roll out has all helped and in this way, Hamilton is able to take advantage of its proximity to Auckland and prosper.
The next question will be how do we further enhance our growth prospects and also deliver some solutions for the issues New Zealand faces with the growth of Auckland. There will be continued business and residential growth between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. This will relieve some pressure from Auckland. The golden triangle will eventually be connected by a series of businesses and residential centres. These are exciting times for Hamilton and this part of New Zealand. We are in the right place at the right time.
A happy New year to everybody and hope you had a good summer vacation. To all those that worked through the summer hopefully you can get some time out at some stage.
Last year was a difficult year in many ways. The world economy was still delicately placed with Europe in trouble, America struggling and some of the gloss coming off Australia and Asia. For the Government this meant a time of careful management of Crown finances while trying to maintain the social services we have become accustomed to providing in New Zealand. It is also a time to invest in our people and infrastructure for future generations.
This year will be equally challenging. This world recession has been different from others in the past in two ways. First, there have been stubbornly higher unemployment rates around the world especially in places like Spain. Secondly, the normal growth patterns that follow a recession have been replaced with situations of fluctuating growth and recession. This makes the economic planning and management difficult for any Government.
Despite these challenges we have continued to grow the New Zealand economy and rebuild Christchurch. We have increased social spending in areas like health and education while at the same time trying to drive efficiencies throughout Government.
2013 will pose similar challenges and we will be seeking to achieve further efficiencies in Government to meet these challenges. In saying this we are also mindful of the need to further develop the skills and resources of New Zealanders. Education will be crucial to these endeavours and also building a healthier and more active population is important. This is crucial as we seek to get more people into employment and so enhance their personal and career prospects. These changes are not always easy and we appreciate the communities’ patience as we move through these reforms.
The Government also needs to continue its strong infrastructural investment. The re-build of Christchurch will be a huge part of this but also the many other building projects such as the Hospital Campus in Hamilton. The construction of the Ultra-Fast Fibre Network through Hamilton is also welcomed. As to is the completion of the Ngaruawahia section of the Waikato Expressway due for the middle of this year and the commencement of the Cambridge-Tamahere section of this project later in the year.
Overall, we face another challenging year and that is the way of the world at this stage. But New Zealanders have risen to that challenge in 2012 and we are sure to do so again in 2013. Thank you and best wishes for the New Year.
On Saturday the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway will be opened. This is the first section of the Waikato Expressway to be completed under the National Government. The Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway is an important link opening further potential for Hamilton and the wider Waikato region for economic development.
The Waikato Expressway is the crucial link in the future economic growth of Hamilton and our region. With a fast growing Auckland City on our doorstep it means that we can take full advantage of this growth, this way we can build a stronger Hamilton
The Te Rapa section of the Waikato expressway extends from the north-west corner of Hamilton all the way to Horotiu where it connects to the future Ngaruawahia section of the Expressway. Forty per cent of the current traffic that travels on State Highway 1 is expected to use this section of the expressway. The Te Rapa section of the expressway was completed six months ahead of schedule and was below the estimated budget of $194 million.
The Te Rapa section will be open on Saturday the 1st of December for the public to celebrate. The timetable is planned for a Sports Waikato fun run/walk from 8.00am till 10.00am with formal opening celebrations taking place from 11.00am till 12 noon. The Prime Minister and the Honourable Gerry Brownlee the Minister of Transport will be there to cut the ribbon.
The opening of this section will provide a better network for transport between Hamilton and Auckland. The completion of the Waikato Expressway will provide 102KM of a four lane highway from the Bombay hills to just south of Cambridge which is being built in eleven sections. Next to open will be the Ngaruawahia section which is due to be completed in the New Year.
Following this the major sections left to be completed will be the Hamilton, Huntly and Cambridge bypass. The Cambridge bypass is due to start next year, the Hamilton and Huntly bypasses are due to be contracted in 2015.
This infrastructural investment by the National Government is a tremendous economic boost to our region but its real affect will be felt for many years in the future as it will be the key to building a prosperous and growing Hamilton City going forward.