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Township upgrades full steam ahead

Wednesday 6 July, 2022

A two-wahine team within Council is making a difference to Tairāwhiti one township at a time.

Council’s northern and southern area liaison officers Lillian Ward and Jasmine Leach have a budget of between $250,000 to $350,000 for each of the 13 rural township upgrades in our rohe.

Ms Ward and Ms Leach both grew up in Tairāwhiti and live in Tokomaru Bay and Whangara respectively.

They know what’s important to our rural townships and how hard it can be to get heard above the city’s voices.

Ms Ward says the $350k budget for each township is for short-term aspirations only.

“We understand that not everything can be done within this amount. So in the background, funding is continually being sought for the medium to long-term goals and aspirations of communities.”

For the next five years, two rural townships a year will be upgraded.

These townships span from the upper East Coast to the southern and western parts of our district.

Already underway are Te Araroa, Tiniroto and Tikitiki, which will be upgraded by October this year – a bit later than planned due to contractor availability after the unexpected weather events in March and April 2022.

Wharekahika has been completed with only some additional equipment to be installed later this year.

This wahine duo have lived in towships long-term and know the best way to connect, they’ve been praised by councillors and the wider community for their approach to working within each township.

The duo have a clear path and focus to their roles, and the first thing they do is liaise with, and listen to, each community.

Ms Ward says they always use a community-led development approach.

For example the majority of Tikitiki’s budget will go on footpaths because that’s what the community want.

“Communities identify what they want to be done in their township upgrade, we price everything up and then the community decides what is a priority with the funds available.

“Anything we cannot cover with the available funds then becomes medium and long-term goals and aspirations that our funding team will apply for funding to cover.”

Ms Ward says this creates a sense of ownership and pride within each township.

Ms Leach says they also advise and help secure the extra funding for them.

“We’ll fill out the Creative Communities application form and help get them started so they can fund their own projects that involve tamariki/rangatahi and hapori art design and artwork.”

“We identify what each township needs and broker relationships. It just makes sense,” says Ms Leach.

As well as township upgrades, speed calming measures are also looked at as many of these small towns are on State Highway 35.

For a list of what’s coming up in our townships the report from the Regional Transport Committee details these plans.

ENDS

Lillian Ward and Jasmine Leach