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Our Anzac commemorations started early this year with Minister of Veterans’ Affairs David Bennett visiting Waimakariri last Thursday.

The Minister met with members of our combined RSAs with a presentation by Rangiora High School student Ruby Spark based on the memoirs of her great-grandfather who served in the Great War. Our veterans enjoyed an informative session with the Minister.

Anzac Day gave us the opportunity to appreciate all our veterans who have served, including those currently serving in our armed forces. We honoured them at commemoration events all over the Waimak.  On Monday I spoke at the Anzac service in Ohoka and on Tuesday it was a humbling experience for my wife and I to attend and lay wreathes at the commemoration services at Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Tuahiwi.  It was great to see such a large turnout of both young and old residents.

I am looking forward to a range of conversations I will be having with residents at my Keeping Connected Evening Meetings next month. With such positive feedback on my meetings last year, I’m running them again around the Waimak. All meetings run from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. Rangiora Town Hall: 1 May; Kaiapoi Library: 8 May; Woodend Community Centre: 15 May; Oxford Town Hall: 16 May; West Eyreton School: 17 May; Belfast Rugby Club: 18 May; Swannanoa Community Hall: 22 May; Cust Community Hall: 29 May. There's no need to RSVP - just turn up and join in the discussions.

Exciting news for our commuters came with the recommendation by the Christchurch Urban Development Strategy Implementation Committee (UDSIC) to the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) to proceed with adding a third southbound lane over the Waimak Bridge, subject to conditions. In the short time I ran my petition in support of the third lane southbound, we saw a huge level of support. The final petition, which had just over 1000 signatures, shows how many people in our community wanted the Waimak voice to be heard.

I presented the petition to the UDSIC at the start of April and told them that decisions made in Christchurch impact Waimakariri.  I know many of you are frustrated by congestion and unreliable travel times into Christchurch in the mornings – a third lane southbound, as part of an integrated traffic solution, will ease traffic flow issues and address the current bottleneck.

Now we wait while NZTA reviews the recommendations.

I just want to finish by acknowledging the great work of Cat Care North Canterbury. I officially opened their new purpose-built cat accommodation unit recently and was impressed by their level of commitment in vaccinating, desexing and microchipping rescue cats, as well as providing for their care. I have signed up to the Kitten Coffee Club and I challenge others to do the same. By foregoing as little as one cup of coffee a month, you too can help support the incredible work they do as North Canterbury’s only registered cat rescue operation.

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