Around the country, mayors elected in October 2016 are reaching the half-way point in their three-year terms. Journalist Hunter Calder caught up with Waipa District Mayor Jim Mylchreest in Te Awamutu to get his verdict on progress so far.

"It's infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure," Mylchreest said. "It's what the community expects us to do, that goes on behind the scenes."

Over the next ten years, infrastructure spend will be beefed up and be the main expense for the Waipa District Council.

To cover the cost he said the council will increase debt to around $190 million.


"We've been preparing for it for a long time and we've paid down our existing debt to a very low level at the moment," Mylchreest said.

"So we're in a very sound position to take out those loans and fund that infrastructure that's required for the public."

With 25,000 more people expected by 2050 the mayor said he is looking at an average rates increase of less than 2 percent each year over a ten-year period.

Mylchreest said they're preparing for the population explosion by creating community facilities including playgrounds, the $17 million Cambridge swimming pool and libraries.

As part of a planned heritage centre in Te Awamutu, Mylchreest said pre-European and European settlement stories will be told about "all of those land war battle stories that were here that need to be told".

Bike trails will link significant historical sites in the district.

Although Mylchreest supports the central government's vision to reduce the prison population, he said the development of Waikeria Prison would be good for Waipa District.

"From a selfish point of view, from the district, that's probably going to have positive economic benefits for us because of the staff and the service that the prison will require."

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