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Mayor David Ayers and Mayoress Marilyn Ayers, Anne Norman Director James Pascoe Group, Michael Power Chief Operating Officer and Director of Farmers, Owners of the building Tim Freer and Arch Still of Mandeville Properties, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentleman, excited shoppers!

Good morning, it’s great to be here and thank you for the opportunity to speak at this important milestone event for our community.

As we have now officially entered Spring and the new growth is starting to bloom, it is fitting that that we celebrate the official opening of this fantastic new Farmers store.

This is an exciting day. The opening of our new Farmers’ building has come to symbolise for us a celebration of how far we have come as a community. We have looked forward to this day as the climax of a time of openings and new beginnings. It has been a time of exciting growth and progress for our district. We’ve shared some important milestones that began with the reopening of our Oxford Town Hall, the reopening of the Rangiora Town Hall, the new Ashley Bridge on Cones Road, the opening of the Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre, as well as Enterprise North Canterbury’s new flagship building, Conway Lane behind us and, of course, our new Rangiora health hub.

This time is reflective of the optimism and returning confidence of our retailers. We’ve seen this optimism gather momentum. We should be proud not only with the progress of our town centres but how our town centres have retained their distinctive characters.

As the local MP, I meet with a range of people in my role - from business people to community groups or just people I talk to on the street - who are upbeat that Waimakariri is heading in the right direction and is on track.

Waimakariri is moving ahead and open for business.

Over the years since the building closed I know the Prime Minister has visited on a couple of occasions and most recently in March. In fact we were here the day the escalators arrived – and aren’t they fantastic; a first for Rangiora. We also had Minister Gerry Brownlee visit on a number of occasions and I know he has maintained a keen interest in the progress of this important building.

As have the Council, and I pay tribute to Mayor David Ayers, CEO Jim Palmer and the Waimakariri District Council. I know they have put a huge amount of work in to help this important anchor project for Rangiora and North Canterbury return.

A huge thank you to James Pascoe Group. To Anne Norman and Michael Power – thank you for being here today and for showing your commitment to Rangiora, Waimakariri and North Canterbury by returning your stores to our community. I would also like to acknowledge all your staff who, from what we can see today, have been working hard to make sure the stores are ready for today’s opening.

Waimakariri is a great place for families. Today’s opening of our new Farmers’ building kicks off our Farmers Rangiora Festival to celebrate our new-look town centre. Having a young family, the festival is another great example of Waimakariri being a great place for families. I look forward to catching up with you either shopping today or at the festival over the weekend.

I know my wife Victoria is keen for me to finish talking now so the building can be opened so she can take advantage of what Farmers has to offer for our young children, Emily and James.

Once again, my congratulations to all who have helped make this happen. It’s a great day for our community and it’s a time to celebrate.

Waimakariri is moving ahead and open for business.

Thank you.

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