Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters announced Hamilton will receive $16.8M in funding from the Waikato allocation of the Provincial Growth Fund for key transport projects in the Ruakura Inland Port area.
The Ruakura growth area on the eastern side of Hamilton is zoned to deliver more than 100 hectares of residential development and more than 400 hectares of employment land. The area is also the site for Tainui Group Holdings’ Ruakura Inland Port. The port will be New Zealand’s largest integrated inland port operation bringing economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits to the Waikato and New Zealand.
Seen as a priority project for the city, funding for the first stage of the Ruakura Spine Road project together with two other key connecting roads was sought by Tainui Group Holdings and supported by Hamilton City Council and other key partners.
The funding announcement means the Council can now work with Tainui Group Holdings to progress construction of the projects, supporting development of the Inland Port with its important rail connections, and making the essential connection to the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway.
It will allow connectivity between the University of Waikato, AgResearch and allow for the expansion of Waikato Innovation Park.
The road will link Ruakura to the central city, enabling greater use of our city’s existing rail freight network, road transport links and three waters infrastructure.
As well as providing for the future needs of the city, the start of works on the spine road brings an immediate financial boost for the region, adding to the economic stimulus and job creation essential for a post-COVID-19 financial recovery.
Mayor Paula Southgate says the importance of the project to the city and wider region could not be over-stated.
“The government funding has provided a $16.8M golden key that will unlock the door to colossal economic and social benefits in terms of jobs, connectivity and eventually housing. This is not just an economic milestone for Hamilton, it is also a social one,” she says.
“I want to congratulate Waikato-Tainui and Tainui Group Holdings for their foresight and tenacity in driving this through and getting to this point.”
Cr Dave Macpherson, Chair of the Council’s Strategic Growth Committee says having a collaborative approach towards this project was paramount. It meant all involved could achieve far more than by working in isolation.
“Together we have made the most use of available funding, and ultimately combine resources and services for the benefit of the whole area.
“This joined-up approach ensures our transport links – like the spine road – are fully connected regionally and locally but also supports the city’s broader transport plans, including linking to our existing bus network but also strengthening other public transport opportunities and allowing us to plan for alternative modes of transport like cycling and walking,” says Cr Macpherson.
The Council’s Executive Director of Special Projects Blair Bowcott says we need to look 10, 20, 50 and even 100 years ahead and ensure the people living in our city in the future have the same, or better, liveability as we do now.
“This is why we have the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan, which is made up of a combination of Councils, Iwi and Government agencies, developing a strategic approach to growth, linking three waters management and transportation, as well as environmental and cultural considerations in how communities are developed in New Zealand’s most important strategic corridor.
“When you take that overall view, it becomes clear councils can’t operate in isolation.
“We know Waikato people work, travel, socialise and invest across city, district and regional boundaries. We must think the same way,” says Mr Bowcott.
The total cost of the project is $38.6M with $16.8M through the Provincial Growth Fund, $16.8M of funding from Tainui Group Holdings and $5M from Hamilton City Council.