Waihi Community Forum to help affected residents

In March 2012, Newmont Waihi Gold released a Property and Community Investment Policy (PCIP). Based on feedback from groups and individuals within the community, the main objective of the PCIP is to maintain the property market following NWG's August 2011 announcement of its intention to mine under residential property in Waihi East.

One of the key components of the PCIP, in terms of governance, is the Waihi Community Forum. Responsible for administering parts of the policy, the forum is an independent voice for the local community and will ensure greater transparency in NWG's decision making. Its newly launched website is a place where residents can receive independent updates and information and provide feedback on mining related issues.

The forum has been really busy over the last few weeks, is now actively up and running, and has the support of Hauraki District Council and Newmont Waihi Gold.

"We are representing the residents of Waihi in general and the Golden Link Project Area (GLPA) and Martha Top-Up areas in particular. We have been entrusted with a huge responsibility to the community and we are all working for a positive outcome," interim spokesperson Michael Scahill says.

The first task of those elected to the forum was to appoint a fifth member from the greater Waihi area. This has now been achieved.

"We now have to appoint Independent Revue Panel (IRP) members. These people need to be non-Waihi residents with specific skills in the areas of health, finance, engineering, property and law, plus have good social and technical skills. Using the criteria established by the Waihi Community Forum, their task will be to determine which houses qualify for purchasing by Newmont Waihi Gold and to make recommendations around disputed top-ups and insurance claims," Mr Scahill says.

"Another task for the forum is to review the top-up process and we want to improve the Amenity Effect Programme (AEP)."

Mr Scahill says the forum also needs to consult with the community about the Streets Ahead project because Newmont Waihi Gold has allocated $200,000 per annum to be spent on amenities for the GLPA area. These funds have been allocated to be spent by the end of December 2012.

"This could be unrealistic due to the short time frame. There needs to be a full consultation with the community on this, so we've asked for that money to be held in trust so it can be used next year if necessary. We are also looking at the total PCIP document with a view to improving any areas that appear to not be working satisfactorily," says Mr Scahill.

If you want to get in touch with the Waihi Community Forum, read the minutes from its weekly meetings and learn more about what it can do for you, it's as easy as visiting www.waihicommunityforum.co.nz, emailing wcfinformation@gmail.com or post a letter to PO Box 17, Paeroa.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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