Life is beginning to return back to normal for many of us after the Christmas Break, and I hope you had time to relax with family and friends.
2017 has already started incredibly well with the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Bill English announcing in his State of the Nation Address a significant Government investment in police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime and keep our communities safe. The half-billion dollar Safer Communities package will provide an extra 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn officers. This means more staff for up to 20 rural and regional police stations so that 95 percent of the population lives within 25kms of a 24/7 police presence. New mobile police stations will visit and support small towns and rural areas, and a new Rural Duties Officers Network will be established.
I was delighted by Minister of Communications, Hon Simon Bridges recent announcement regarding phase two of the UltraFast Broadband roll out. For Taranaki-King Country this means 12 towns will have access to UFB, reaching over 19,700 people in the electorate. This will make significant difference for people ensuring that more of our local communities, businesses and schools will be able to take advantage of a faster and more reliable broadband network, and the opportunities it provides. This expansion brings us closer to achieving our target of bringing faster broadband and better mobile coverage to 99 percent of New Zealanders by 2025.
Taranaki-King Country had two outstanding citizens named in the 2017 New Years Honours list. I would like to extend my congratulations to Dr Paul Kay of Te Awamutu awarded a QSM for his services to Polo and Murray Loewental, JP of Otorohanga awarded a QSM for his services to health and the community. Both these men are deserved QSM recipients and this accolade acknowledges the hard work and dedication they have contributed to their individual fields of interest and own local communities. Their families and friends will be delighted and incredibly proud of them.
It was a spectacular day at the Kawhia Kai festival over the Waitangi weekend and great to see the huge number of visitors coming along to support it and have good family fun. This is always such a well organised event with the volunteers and local Kawhia community working hard to make it the success it is. All proceeds of the day went to the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter a well-deserved cause.
This year is already shaping up to be a very busy one. I look forward to seeing many of you on my travels and meeting you out and about. Please contact my Te Awamutu office on 07 870 1005 if there is an event you would like me to attend.