Despite the recent wintry snap, spring is officially here. It’s uplifting to see the new growth coming into bloom and my daughter and I had a wonderful day at the season opening last week of Wee Dram Farm Park in Fernside.
The first day of spring was a fitting time for Waimakariri to celebrate the opening of our new Farmers’ building. Speaking at the opening, I reflected on how our new Farmers has come to symbolise a celebration of how far we have come as a community. It was encouraging to host so many visitors to our regenerated town centre during the Farmers’ Rangiora Festival, with people travelling from all over Canterbury to be part of the celebrations. As a proud sponsor of the festival, I enjoyed taking time with my family to join the celebrations and to meet with you. The festival was another great example of Waimakariri being a great place to raise a family.
Recent weeks have highlighted just how well we are doing, not only as a destination of choice but also as a centre for business. The number of dynamic businesses featured at Enterprise North Canterbury’s Business Awards in Ohoka was impressive and showcased the strength of our business community. As a supporter of our local businesses, I always enjoy opportunities to chat to our business people, who make a valuable contribution to our local economy. Recently, I joined the Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Jo Goodhew, to visit an Eyreton nursery that has become a major supplier of forest and shelter tree-stock to the New Zealand market.
With the Waimak continuing to grow, our school rolls are reflecting the number of new families arriving in our community. In the space of one week recently, I attended the sod-turning for Kaiapoi North School’s $5.54 million redevelopment and celebrated an extra $6.6 million investment into Kaiapoi High School’s redevelopment project, on top of the $15 million already announced, which will future-proof modern learning spaces for our growing number of students. All around the electorate, our schools are benefiting from Government funding for increased learning spaces.
It’s great to see our youth achieving their potential and, at the start of the month, I enjoyed attending the formal parade of the newly established No 88 Squadron Training Corp, which has recently been recognised by the Minister of Defence. This youth training programme is based at our very own Rangiora airfield and is part of the Air Training Corps.
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. Chatting to our seniors in Kaiapoi at the Darnley Club’s AGM, there was certainly a spring in the step of many of those there, with lots of laughter at the afternoon tea.