I enjoyed getting out and about in the Rangitikei and the recent parliamentary recess provided the perfect opportunity. The NZTA is working well on the Parapara Rd project and may possibly have a one-lane metal road option in place by Christmas. A permanent solution will very much depend on the Geotech survey results and is likely to be a little while away.
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I drove up the Whanganui River road last weekend and visited businesses in Raetihi before coming back down Fields Track. It's a long trip but if holidaymakers or tourists have the time, and drive with care, the River Rd provides a wonderful and very scenic route with a rich history. Businesses in Raetihi are remaining optimistic and are certainly working alongside the Ruapehu District Council to plan for the summer holiday season. A visit to the recently opened Dinosaur house is a must, especially for dinosaur fanatics and children.
My colleague Alfred Ngaro spent some time in our part of the world. He attended the Glen Oroua Lamb and Calf day – his first ever - and loved it. There was a good crowd of spectators with 35 lambs and 25 odd calves competing for ribbons.
We also visited Cornerstone Christion School in Palmerston North, where we were impressed by the level of engagement. The senior students were very interested in politics, current affairs and the life of a politician. The school has a growing roll and some excellent facilities.
Our next stop was Feilding Demolition where we saw a thriving business, which is growing strongly throughout the Lower North Island and has now branched out to Tauranga. Then it was on to meet with some of the team at Manchester House where we talked about opportunities for fundraising for NGOs.
Another highlight of Alfred's visit was a breakfast meeting with some of the church leaders in the Samoan community in Marton. There are over 200 Samoan families in the town who are looking to reinforce their role in the community and are a very important part of the Marton area now. They encounter all the same challenges with health, education and transport that many others in rural New Zealand face. Their desire and interest in helping themselves to progress and become more resilient was inspiring. There is certainly plenty of opportunity in the Rangitikei as more and more jobs become available through vegetable growing, asparagus and other diversified food production.
Hunterville's annual Shemozzle last weekend was once again a highly successful and popular event for all ages and the weather played its part too. It attracted competitors and spectators from throughout Rangitikei, Ruapehu and Whanganui and beyond. There were over 100 shepherds and their dogs competing with the race won by a local farmer (who may be related to me - congratulations Angus!), closely followed by a hired Frenchman. More than 300 young people turned out for the junior and teens' events. All in all a fantastic day out – the Shemozzle continues to go from strength to strength each year, which is a credit to the organisers and competitors alike.
Parliament is now sitting again with a raft of legislation on the go. More on that next time…