Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Heather du Plessis-Allan accepts challenge to visit Ngaruawahia

Heather du Plessis-Allan has offended the people of Ngaruawahia. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Heather du Plessis-Allan has offended the people of Ngaruawahia. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

She says Ngaruawahia is "rotting" and wouldn't even stop there to pee, but now Heather du Plessis-Allan is organising herself a tour of the Waikato town.

In the columnist's article in yesterday's Herald on Sunday, Du Plessis-Allan talked about the Government's plan to offer homeless people $5000 to move to a town to find a home and a job.

However, in the process it seems she's offended most people who live, work or know people that live or work there after stating it would be "preferable to hold on for Mercer than to stop to pee in Ngaruawahia".

"What is in Ngaruawahia? It's not the fault of the people who live there, but the town is rotting ... between Seek and Trade Me's online vacancies, a grand total of four jobs are available in the town. A homeless family sent to Ngaruawahia will have a home but no hope."

One of the first to take umbrage at her comments was Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson who responded, on her Facebook page, by saying he was disappointed that she referred to the town as "rotting".

"You can see from the number of people who have responded to it on a number of forums [yesterday] your comments have not gone down well. I feel it was disappointing for you to make an ill-informed comment from a position where you can make an impression of a community through a national paper. I set you a challenge to contact my office and arrange to come down and personally meet with me and I will take you around Ngaruawahia and show you what a great place it is. The community spirit is strong and its people are passionate about their town and region."

Du Plessis-Allan responded and says she will take him up on his offer.

"Hi Allan, thanks for your message. I'm keen to visit! I'll drop you a line."

However, others weren't so diplomatic.

"So you've written this article before even coming to our town? How do you have an opinion of a town you know nothing about. Get your head out of your *** before writing another ridiculous article," one person wrote.

Another was a bit more understanding.

"Yea ok some of this is true but it's certainly not a no hope town! In fact we moved to NGA as first home buyers last year and we both work in Hamilton 10mins away so if your (sic) willing to drive or catch a bus there's plenty of work just 10mins away! And I second poppas takeaways! Best takeaways this side of the bombays (or mercer!)"

A former resident of the town posted stating that a "fleeting view from the old state highway as you are busting for a wee, doesn't give you insights to a small town, with beautiful tree-lined streets, and a big community spirit."

"Those of us that live in or near Ngaruawahia have an informed opinion, and shouldn't need to justify its soul to you or other uninformed passers-by. To see a small town being decimated in a national paper by your "opinion" ignited a loyalty flame in the pit of my belly. Ngaruawahia is full of heart and community spirit. Many people happily live and choose to live here. Ten minutes from a big city hardly makes employment opportunities in the town limited?"

- NZ Herald

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