My family and I would like to wish you all a safe, peaceful, happy and prosperous 2019. I hope you had a chance to spend some quality time with your loved-ones over the Christmas/New Year period. A special thank you to all those who work in essential services, and served our communities by working through this period.

My wife Angela and I, along with our children, had a quiet break, consisting of visiting beaches in our region, fishing, golf, gardening, and catching up on house maintenance. The look on the face of our 10-year-old son as he caught his first kingfish is a moment I will never forget!

It is with a great deal of excitement that I look forward to this year. Three key local projects that will be progressed during 2019 are: Improved transport links between Hamilton and Auckland, the final stage of the Hamilton Ring Road project, and the Hamilton-to-Auckland Corridor Plan.

The completion of both the Waikato Expressway and Passenger Rail Service to Auckland in 2020 will add huge economic benefit to our region. It will provide people with a range of transport options to move around the Waikato, encouraging a more diverse, multi-modal transport system.

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I'm pleased that NZTA have approved the business case for a Hamilton-to-Auckland passenger rail service. A key benefit will be productivity: people will be able to board the train, open their laptop, and start working. Other advantages are reliability of arrival time, reduced road congestion, and improved access to job markets.

This coalition Government is committed to investing close to $4 billion in public transport, rapid transit and metro rail across New Zealand. Investing in public transport is a key to managing growth and shaping our towns and cities.

The second key project will be the beginning of the final stage of the Hamilton Ring Road project. This includes the 400m section between Cambridge Road and Cobham Drive, to be completed in 2020, and a bridge over the Waikato River near the Hamilton Gardens, which will be completed in 2022. This infrastructure will unlock 8400 sections in the Peacocke area for Hamilton's future housing needs. It has been a collaboration between Hamilton City Council, NZTA, and the coalition-Government.

The third key project is the Hamilton-to-Auckland Corridor Plan. When I was first elected to Parliament, I met with local mayors, CEs, and their teams around the topic of economic growth in our region.

Since that meeting we have been collaborating with the coalition-Government around planning residential, commercial, industrial, and tourism development in the geographic corridor between Cambridge/Te Awamutu and the Bombay Hills. This will be a key growth area in years to come, and it's important that the growth is smart, strategic, and intentional. More information will emerge around this work in the coming months.

I wish everyone in our region all the very best for 2019, and I look forward to chatting in person over the course of this year.