A Maxim Institute report on forecast population decline in regional areas of New Zealand has left Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell with a sour taste in his mouth.

He says the industrial town won't go down without a fight.

"I don't know of any Mayor, I have to say, in the whole of New Zealand that is sitting down and letting themselves die. We are all very aware of the stats and Natalie's [Professor Jackson] stats and as much as we didn't want to hear that we are all getting old, and as much as I didn't want to hear that - I get it enough when I'm at home - it is the reality."

Mr Campbell says his council has been working hard to ensure the local economy is on the up.


"We started an economic development agency here in Kawerau, and we run that in this office here. We've worked very hard to make sure our industries are going to be sustainable, and keep going."

"Kawerau has changed in the last 12-18 months. The average house now has gone from about $79,000 to $174,000, that was last week's statistics."

He says creating jobs in the town and the wider area is vital for bringing in younger workers.

"We've got a pretty good track record dealing with some of the bigger companies in the country and overseas companies that are looking very seriously at coming here now, so that's all about jobs for young people and the like.

"Certainly we aren't lying down and letting ourselves turn into a ghost town, or just dying. We are working collaboratively with our neighbours right now: Rotorua, Whakatane, Opotiki, Tauranga, Western Bays, it's the only way we will survive."

Mr Campbell says his 16 year mayoralty is being aided by fresh ideas from Faylene Tunui, the new Deputy Mayor in Kawerau.

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