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The year is well underway and many of us are now back at work. I’m looking forward to another busy year, and am positive it will be another fantastic year in Taranaki-King Country (TKC).

Infrastructure supports much of our daily lives – it’s the roads we drive on, the schools our children learn in and it delivers our electricity and water. It is a key driver of the economy, and public services. And it creates jobs and offers learning opportunities.

Driving over Mt Messenger and through the Awakino Gorge Tunnel is a drive which I do regularly, to get from top to bottom of my electorate. I was thrilled by the announcement of two new bypasses here. I was in the middle of the King Country as the announcement was made, and business owners and locals I spoke to have welcomed the news. These two bypasses, as well as added safety enhancements for State Highway 3, will open up the entire West Coast as a link to the rest of the Upper North Island. This will undoubtedly increase tourism, economic productivity, and the flow of goods and services. The atmosphere of excitement in Taranaki-King Country since hearing this announcement has endorsed the decision. This is huge for our community and all those who use the road, and we eagerly look forward to construction starting within the next two years.

I would like to congratulate the individuals in TKC who gained honours in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List. A huge congratulations to Mr David Fagan, appointed as Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to shearing; Mr Jim Barker, appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the transport industry and philanthropy; Mr David Allerton, appointed a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the New Zealand Fire Service and sailing, and Mrs Kataraina Hodge, appointed a Queen’s Service Medal for services to Māori. I would like to extend my warm congratulations to these four remarkable citizens for their services to both their industry and community.

I am confident this year will be full of success in our schools, volunteer organisations, community groups, small and large businesses, and innovative enterprises. After recharging the batteries I’m heading into the 2016 Parliamentary year focused, energised, and full of ideas to keep New Zealand and TKC moving ahead. I look forward to seeing you out and about in TKC over the coming year.

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