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The growth of Waimakariri electorate was very much the focus of my recent Keeping Connected Evening Meetings.

These pop-up meetings to make me more accessible took place from June 20 to July 14 in Swannanoa, Woodend, Rangiora, Cust, Kaiapoi, Oxford, West Eyreton and Belfast. A range of issues that were raised in a survey that went out to homes before the meetings were echoed in the discussions during the evening meetings. Among these were the challenges of an electorate that has positive growth, including congestion, reliable travel times, protecting our great landscapes, access to healthcare and the issues caused by urban development in rural areas.

I was impressed by people taking time out at night to attend and the liveliness of the discussions. With a lot of growth, we are having growing pains and that’s the reason I make sure I get out in the electorate. It’s about keeping connected either through my night meetings, my caravan clinics, my two offices or just living and working in the electorate with my family.

Business people in the electorate enjoyed engaging with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon Bill English last week at a well-attended meeting in the Rangiora Town Hall. I’m always impressed at how senior cabinet ministers make themselves accessible. People were very complimentary about the time the Minister took during the question and answer session, and meeting them individually afterwards. Our businesses are behind the success of our vibrant town centres and growth, and I am always looking at ways to support them.

A business visit to Daiken, a large employer in North Canterbury, followed the meeting.

On Friday, I was honoured to present the prestigious Arctic Star to the widow of the late William Robert Regan of the British Marines at the Kaiapoi Club. Winston Churchill named it the “worst journey in the world” and the bitter conditions faced by those who served on the Arctic convoys are unimaginable by today’s standards.  It was a privilege to be a part of this ceremony.

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