Fieldays was again a phenomenal event with 130,684 visitors through the gates with an increase from last year’s 126,063. I am so incredibly proud to have the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agri-event held in the Taranaki-King Country Electorate. Peter Nation and his team do an amazing job ensuring that it is absolutely world class. Fieldays was attended by the Prime Minister and Ministers as well as many National Party MP’s. I was delighted by the announcement from Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy that an extra $600,000 funding has been allocated for rural mental health in our communities.
Taranaki-King Country has also had another significant amount of funding for the investment of upgrading our roading as part of the Governments Safer Roads and Roadsides Programme. This will see 6 upgrades totalling $23.2 million including $3.1 million for an upgrade to SH3 from Ohaupo to Te Awamutu, $2 million upgrade for SH3 between Te Awamutu and Otorohanga, a $1.5 million investment into SH37 from SH3 to Waitomo, a $3.3 million upgrade to SH3 from SH37 to Te Kuiti a $4.5 million upgrade from Waitetuna to Raglan and an $8.8 million upgrade to SH23 between Hamilton and Whatawhata. These specific pieces of highway have been identified as having too many accidents on them and the Government is committed to having safe roads to travel on.
I am passionate about our children receiving the best education available and was thrilled by Education Minister Hekia Parata’s commitment to the Teacher-Led innovation fund by extending it out until June 2020 with additional funding of $8 million which will take the total amount invested to $18 million over 5 years. I am delighted that several schools in the Taranaki King Country have taken up the opportunity in grouping together and becoming Communities of Learning supporting each other by sharing ideas and best practices so that it becomes common practice. The Teacher-Led Innovation fund is part of the government’s $359 million Investing in Education Success initiative.
The recent Otorohanga mid-winter annual Farmers Party was an absolutely enjoyable evening and a real privilege to be invited to speak. It was great to see over 200 people coming out for the night where we had great discussion. Another fantastically organised community event and I would like to acknowledge David Bailey and his team for making it a great night out.
I have been deeply saddened by the recent tragedies that have hit the Te Awamutu community. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected at this devastating time. I would also like to recognise and thank the Emergency Services for all they do in supporting us all.