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Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in Hamilton: Economy, transport, growth discussed

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Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at the Made complex in Hamilton today. Photo / Mike Scott

The state of New Zealand’s economy was high on the minds of Hamilton business owners as Prime Minister Christopher Luxon visited the city’s market precinct Made ahead of the Easter long weekend.

Addressing media in the midst of his visit, Luxon said the Government wanted “New Zealanders doing it tough” in the cost of living crisis to be able to keep more of their own money and save it.

“It’s a tough time for New Zealanders over the last three years who have had to deal with the previous administration that have created economic pain and suffering for people.”

Despite this, Luxon said the country had a “fantastic future ahead”.

“But we have to be very focused on actually getting this country right again.”

When asked what role Hamilton would play in New Zealand’s growth, Luxon acknowledged the city’s status as “the fastest growing” urban centre in the country.

“It’s wonderful to see growth,” Luxon told the Waikato Herald.

“With growth comes challenges, challenges around housing, around infrastructure, around law and order.”

Luxon said to meet these challenges, the Government needed the council to embrace growth.

“We are determined to work with them to do that.”

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at the Hamilton market precinct Made with Stark Property director Matt Stark (second from right) and Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate. Photo / Mike Scott
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at the Hamilton market precinct Made with Stark Property director Matt Stark (second from right) and Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate. Photo / Mike Scott

‘The rest of the country’ is watching Hamilton

Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said the Prime Minister’s visit was an opportunity to show the Government why Hamilton “is just so awesome”.

“We can deliver on the Government’s aspirations for the country,” Southgate said.

“He does need the cities to be successful if New Zealand is going to be successful.

“Laterm we’ll get into the detail of what city or regional deals might look like. We’ll talk about infrastructure funding and those gritty pieces of work but right now we just want him to understand what Hamilton has to offer.”

Hamilton East MP Ryan Hamilton said Luxon’s visit had been “on the to-do list” for a while.

Hamilton previously promoted Made in his maiden speech at Parliament, offering to shout visiting MP’s a coffee at the precinct.

“I’d like to think he’s answering my invitation,” Hamilton said.

“Made is in my electorate and it is something I wanted to promote and get his eyes on.”

Stark Property director Matt Stark said Luxon’s visit indicated “a lot of interest” in Hamilton.

Stark Property owns and developed the building that hosts Made.

“We’ve got a lot of capacity and capability in this town to build a really good town and a successful town and a town for everybody.

“We’re a town I think the rest of the country is watching. That’s exciting.”

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon with the Abdalla Ali (left) and Esra Lalanci of Turkish eatery Mezze&More. Photo / Mike Scott.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon with the Abdalla Ali (left) and Esra Lalanci of Turkish eatery Mezze&More. Photo / Mike Scott.

Luxon speaks with local business owners

While at Made, Luxon spoke to several business owners who operate on the premises.

Oat Bros founder George Downey said he was surprised by the Prime Minister’s “genuine and useful” answers.

“I told him a little bit about our business and where we want to be and he gave me tips.”

Downey said he hoped the Government would make it a priority to increase transport connections between Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton.

Mezze & More employee Abdalla Ali said Luxon was encouraging and congratulatory.

“He motivated us to do more.”

Ali said he hoped the Government could support small businesses with startup plans and free business courses for young people.

“[We need] funding for businesses rather than funding for things where we don’t know where the funding goes.”

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon spoke to several business owners at Hamilton market precinct Made. Photo / Mike Scott.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon spoke to several business owners at Hamilton market precinct Made. Photo / Mike Scott.

Expleo Butcher family business co-owner Shawn Nicholas said it was good for the country’s leader to meet people face-to-face.

“As business owners that’s so important. That’s what it’s all about.”

Nicholas said in his view the Government was making headway in getting New Zealand’s economy back on track but there was still “a long, hard road” ahead.

“It’s not going to happen overnight.” Nicholas said.

Nicholas said getting inflation under control would help all business owners.

“We just need to kickstart the economy again.”

In the meantime, Luxon said he was hoping to get a couple of days off over Easter.

“I haven’t seen my wife and kids for a little bit and I’m looking forward to spending time with them.”

Maryana Garcia is a Hamilton-based multimedia reporter covering breaking news in Waikato. She previously wrote for the Rotorua Daily Post and Bay of Plenty Times.

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