Business Central April 2021

36 | “We’re seeing significant development in Morrinsville because people can acquire a section or a home there at a much lower rate than in Cambridge or Hamilton...” Don McLeod Matamata-Piako District Council REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT District goes from strength to strength Main street Morrinsville - bursting at the seams. I n the shadow of the Kaimai Range Moun- tains, the district of Matamata-Piako en- compasses 175,000 hectares in the central Waikato and is well known for dairy farming and the thoroughbred racing industry. With a total population of 35,000 people in the region, 56% live in one of the three main towns — Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha. Just over 30 minutes to the beach, 90 minutes to Auckland and a few hours from the ski fields, the district presents an attractive place to live, work and play. There is all the benefits of living in a small town including safe communities, free parking and no traffic lights, while close enough to Hamilton and Tauranga to enjoy city life. While dairy, drystock, poultry and a growing goat industry dominate the agricultural industry, there are large areas of horticulture attracted by Matamata’s sandy loam soils. The dominance of agriculture in the region also means a significant food processing industry. Two Fonterra factories, Open Country Dairy, Tatua Dairy, Silverfern Farm’s most modern plant, Wallace Corporation — processing skin and by-products — and Greenlea Meats tend to attract workers with young families into the district. Matamata Piako District Council Chief Executive Don McLeod says there is significant growth in the townships of Matamata and Morrinsville, which have a slightly older demo- graphic than the national average. “We’re seeing significant development in Morrinsville because people can acquire a section or a home there at a much lower rate than in Cambridge or Hamilton. We’re also seeing quite a significant surge in retirement villages being built in Matamata.” Don points to the halo effect resulting from Aucklanders cashing up and choosing to live in the district, attracted by lifestyle, quality services and cheaper properties. “The towns of Matamata and Morrinsiville are seeing quite significant housing develop - ment, which does put pressure on developing our infrastructure to keep pace, but we’re working to a plan.” While the increase in population brings with it diversity and vibrancy, the district is not without its own dynamic features including the Hauraki Rail Trail which embraces a scenic 197km from Kaiaua across to Thames and then down to Matamata. A Grade One cycle trail suitable for riders of all ages, fitness and abilities, the trail can be completed over five days. At the foot of the mountain is the Mokena Geyser. The only natural hot soda water gey- ser in the world, the waters feed the Te Aroha Mineral Spas in the picturesque and historic Te Aroha domain. “Te Aroha is rediscovering its routes as a very attractive spa domain with large num- bers of visitors enjoying the mineral waters in the spa complex, which the Council hopes to expand on.” And of course, there is Hobbiton in Matama - ta. While visitor numbers have been impacted by the lack of overseas tourists, it remains a favourite by the many local visitors to the district. “While Covid has impacted on major tour- ism operators who relied upon large propor- tions of people from overseas, the district has fared better than many because of it high percentage of essential workers,” says Don. T T Richard Loader