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Published: 2012-06-28 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton City Council are joining forces with eight other organisations to investigate new ways of moving freight more efficiently through the upper North Island.

This is particularly important in the Waikato, which has more than 25 per cent of New Zealand’s freight tonnage travelling through it.

It also ensures that transport priorities already identified through the Waikato Regional Land Transport Strategy and by Waikato’s industry are considered within an upper North Island context.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley said there was real value in working with others on the Upper North Island freight story because land use and transport investment decisions made in one region often affect neighbouring regions.

“This important study will provide the information we need to help us decide collectively what we need to do to get freight moving more efficiently in the upper North Island.

“Reducing the costs of trade will bring cheaper goods for New Zealanders and give exporters and importers in our region and from around the country a competitive advantage.”

Hamilton City Council mayor Julie Hardaker said: “This is a critical piece of work, not only for Hamilton and the Waikato, but also for New Zealand and Hamilton City Council is pleased to be involved in this collaborative study.

“It will ensure the full story around freight movement and its impact on business and investment is well understood, which is very important for Hamilton given its central location and the importance of freight movement to its local economy.”

The Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) is made up of Northland Regional Council, Whangarei District Council, Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Tauranga City Council. UNISA is collaborating with Auckland Transport, KiwiRail and the NZTA to work together on initiatives to reduce the cost to do business in New Zealand through an upper North Island lens.

The 10 upper North Island organisations have decided to join forces to better support the economic performance of New Zealand.

The organisations involved share the view that to invest smarter and deliver better certainty for industry and investors, they need to understand the picture at an upper North Island scale and work together on the critical priorities that will add the most value.

This approach has and continues to involve discussions with industry, operators and ports, to ensure their views are included, and that their needs can be better understood.

The upper North Island of New Zealand is a critical platform to the country’s economic success. More than 55 per cent of New Zealand’s freight travels through the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, and collectively these regions generate over fifty percent of New Zealand’s gross domestic product.