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Published: 2013-07-01 00:00:00

Release from the Waikato Mayoral Forum
A former cabinet minister, the Hon John Luxton, is chairing a high-powered group overseeing the development of a Waikato regional economic strategy, it was announced today.

The strategy is an initiative of the Waikato Mayoral Forum made up of Waikato mayors and the regional council chair. It is one of four streams of work underway by the forum to boost the regional economy and deliver millions in cost savings across local government.

Mr Luxton held a number of National Party ministerial positions between 1990 and 1999 including Minister of Commerce, Minister of Industry and Minister of Agriculture. He is currently chair of DairyNZ and co-chair of the Waikato River Authority.

The governance group includes Waikato District Health Board chair Graeme Milne, Stainless Design Ltd managing director John Cook, University of Waikato economics professor Frank Scrimgeour, chair of the Federation of Maori Authorities Traci Haupapa, and Parekawhia McLean, chief executive Waikato-Tainui.

Waipa Mayor Alan Livingston, Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker, Hauraki Mayor John Tregida and Waikato Regional Council chair Peter Buckley represent the Mayoral Forum on the group.

A contract to develop the economic strategy has been let to a partnership between consulting firms MartinJenkins and Beca. A draft will be ready in September this year with a final strategy expected by early in 2014.

Mr Luxton said that while the Waikato had a range of strengths, particularly in agriculture and manufacturing, it needed a more collaborative and integrated approach to further stimulate regional economic development and jobs.

“Developing a regional strategy, like other regions have, will help move the Waikato economy forward and facilitate more effective partnerships between business and industry, local government and central government.”

Mr Luxton said the governance group would encourage the regional business community to be involved in strategy development. The governance group met for the first time last month.