Despite Waipā being in a better post Covid-19 recovery position than many New Zealand regions, efforts must continue to help those impacted by the social and economic fallout.
That was one of several messages delivered by Waipā District Mayor Jim Mylchreest when he spoke to over 120 guests attending the November 25 Friends of Council event at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre. He said continued growth, largely on the back of the agricultural sector and lower than anticipated unemployment put Waipā in a good position as the country moves to recover from the pandemic.
Covid-19 resulted in $30 million of $130 million earmarked in this year’s capital works programme being deferred because of interrupted contracts and additional costs, he said, and there would be a need for extensive long-term planning as a result.
Problem areas continue to be housing affordability and a struggling events sector, with businesses continuing to feel the pressure to keep going while keeping costs down. Positives can be seen in terms of commercial activity and the building industry, he said, with building consents back to pre-Covid-19 levels.
Mr Mylchreest said the central government’s decision to ‘go hard and go early’ when the pandemic hit New Zealand had been an advantage to all, “whatever their political persuasion”.
“We were able to do things faster. I take my hat off to the way local government co-operated with other local authorities and iwi to identify people in need and attend to those needs as soon as possible. I think they did extremely well.”
He said he hoped that with a Covid-19 vaccine in the wing, New Zealand’s recovery, both economic and social, might be quicker than anticipated.
“Yes, we are doing well in some areas, but there are people out there hurting and we need to continue to look after them.”