The Waikato region has relatively affordable housing, better life satisfaction and an above average percentage of te reo Māori speakers, but could be doing better in a number of other areas.
That’s the findings of a Waikato Regional Council report presented to the strategy and policy committee meeting today.
The Waikato Progress Indicators – Tupuranga Waikato (WPI) report is part of an annual council series which takes the region’s pulse across a wide variety of issues.
WPI measures 32 key environmental, social and economic indicators which are regularly updated and analysed to identify changes and trends over time.
“There are some positives we can take from the results – improved air quality, better educational attainment and less crime,” said committee deputy chair and Waikato regional councillor, Tipa Mahuta.
“Mai I tētahi kaikōrero reo Māori, e whakahīhī pai ana ahau I te piki haere o ngā kaikōrero reo I tēnei rohe, tēra I ētahi atu. As a fluent speaker of te reo Māori, I’m also encouraged that our rohe is leading the way with the highest proportion of te reo Māori speakers compared with the national average. We’ve come a long way.
“But the results show we are behind the New Zealand average on a range of other economic, social and environmental indicators, including road safety, cultural respect, voter turnout and GDP growth.
“These results provide a clear basis for robust engagement around our regional opportunities, as well as the challenges, and how we can work with others to prioritise work into the future,” Cr Mahuta said.
The most positive trends measured over the period 2007 to 2016/17 include:
Despite less crime, the report said there are dropping perceptions of safety, with the percentage of Waikato survey respondents who reported feeling safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark falling from 80 per cent in 2006 to 64 per cent in 2018.
Oher negative trends over this period include:
The report’s author, strategic principal advisor Beat Huser, said the Waikato region is similar to the national average on many of the available indicators.
“However, road safety is worse than the national average, regional GDP per capita is slightly lower in the Waikato region than the national average, and crime rates are higher than the national average,” Mr Huser said.
“The strongest positive indicator for the Waikato is the number of te reo Māori speakers relative to the national average, housing is more affordable in the Waikato region compared with Auckland, we are more socially connected and overall have better life satisfaction.
“Where we have data, we are also comparing Waikato with some other regions and countries, providing a benchmark for the current status and to track future changes,” Mr Huser said.
He said the Government is working towards its first wellbeing budget in 2019, and Waikato Regional Council is helping Treasury and Statistics New Zealand develop a set of similar measures to the WPI.
More information is available at waikatoregion.govt.nz/wpi.