Speech to Wainui Office Opening

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thanks for coming along this evening to officially open my second office in the Hutt and my first office in Wainuiomata! It’s great to see such a large crowd.

Around two years ago Development Wainuomata hosted a “meet the candidates” breakfast meeting for Hutt South, just down the road at the Bilderbeck Hall. At that meeting I tried to be very honest. I said that it was obvious to me, as a first time candidate, that National had not engaged enough with the Wainuiomata community for a long time. We weren’t active over here and we didn’t know the issues.

I said that if I was elected, whether as an electorate MP or as a List MP, I would commit to changing that.

The opening of the office today is a visible manifestation of that commitment, and I hope it builds on what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years.

I’ve been holding “Catch up with Chris” electorate clinics every two weeks at the library since the election. With this new office I can now hold them here and be a lot more accessible to people.

As many of you know, I’m passionate about young people reaching their potential and so I’ve got involved in a lot of youth projects in Wainui. Things like Bill Sharp’s Wainui Futures programme run at the High School, the Wainui High Stage Challenge production which came 3rd at the regional competition, and I’ve been a judge at MaiBiz a couple of times – a three day boot camp for young entrepreneurs.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the business community through the monthly Development Wainuiomata business breakfasts. The guest speakers are always great and it’s excellent to be able to stay in touch with people over bacon and eggs once a month.

We’ve got some great businesses here in Wainui. GoodBuzz booch is manufactured down in Waiu St – I reckon they’re the next big thing and it’s great to have some here for people to try tonight. NZ Kids Food is an innovative social enterprise that makes healthy school lunches affordable for families. On a similar note, the Wainui Fruit and Veg Co-Op is amazing – a $10 bag of fruit and veg really goes a long way. It’s grassroots, community driven projects like these that are a feature of Wainui and why I love this place so much.

I’ve been holding regular morning teas for seniors at the Bilderbeck Hall. Now that we have this fantastic space here, I’ll be holding them here and more regularly too. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people over a cuppa and it’s a brilliant way to find out what people are thinking about and wondering about in the community.

Wainuiomata has a great future ahead of it. My personal view is that the tourism into Wainuiomata is criminally underpromoted and we need to change that. Rimutaka Forest Park is a world-class facility right on our door step. Too few people know about the beauty of the Coast and the Coast Road. There’s a massive amount to do over here – everything from mountain biking to golf to exploring the heritage of the area – and we need to think harder about getting people to come over the hill (and then get them to stay for coffee and a shop when they do).

There are challenges. As we all know, the mall is tired and needs upgrading. We need a retirement village for our seniors. We need more companies to locate here and more people to move over the hill.

But the best thing about Wainui is its people – strong, resilient, community-minded and friendly. You can see that in the community discussions over re-envisaging the town centre and building a better Wainui. I’ve loved getting to know many of you over the past couple of years and I’m looking forward to meeting many more.

Let me talk about the office briefly. I want to say a big thanks to Ninox Construction who done an amazing job getting it into shape for the opening tonight. A few weeks ago it was an empty shell and they’ve made it into what you see today under budget and on time!

It’s a big space so I’ll be doing morning teas and public meetings here. I also want to make it available free of charge to any community group who wants to use it. It’s a community asset so please use it as such.

I’m very keen on displaying local art on the walls. Soon the winning piece in the Muriel Hopper Art Awards will be on display along with the brilliant runner-up by James Toki from MIX in the Hutt.

Each month we’ll be opening the office on a Saturday morning during the village markets for people to drop in – and I want to do some sausage sizzles at the same time for good causes.

Finally, we’re looking at opening the office after traditional business hours so that people can drop in after work. I know for people to get to a MP’s office during the day can often be difficult. So we’re going to facilitate making it easier to get in touch with my team.

And just on my team I want to say a big thank you to James, Mikaela, Joel, Dawn (plus family!) and Sam for all the effort they’ve put into getting us to where we are today. It’s been a fantastic night so far thanks to their efforts – so please, a round of applause for my wonderful staff.

Thanks for coming along tonight and please enjoy the rest of the night.