Hamilton set to be New Zealand's second largest city within 25 years

Hamilton is on target to become New Zealand's second largest city within 25 years, says a regional economic development boss keen to tell it's story to the world. 

Waikato Means Business acting chair Parekawhia McLean said population studies show if Hamilton continues to grow at the current rate, while places like Wellington remain stagnant, the number two spot will belong to the Waikato city.

"It's an interesting debate happening at the moment," McLean said.

"It's obvious we have to get ahead of that curve."

So, Waikato needs to start preparing for the projected population growth now, said McLean at the launch of The Waikato Story on Friday.
The Waikato Story was officially launched by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce at Te Awa's Hoyts cinema on Friday morning to a crowd of about 200 people from the worlds of business and Maoridom.

The project includes a short film clip showcasing the region, a website and business tools.

Waikato Means Business was the central organisation in developing The Waikato Story.

It is a project that has been a year in the making with input from iwi, local and central government, the tertiary sector, tourism organisations, community groups and the private sector.

The idea was that Waikato businesses and people needed a cohesive story to tell others what made the region great.

Te Awa Lakes
About 600 people were consulted on what the region is about to get the three defining features of Waikato people: our role as Kaitiaki or guardians, as people who operate with integrity and as a resourceful group.

The way people think about a place has a direct effect on its economy, McLean says.

"The centre of New Zealand's economic growth story for the next 30 years is the Waikato, but people know very little about the Waikato. It's possible we haven't told the story very well.

"It has to be one of our key priorities if we want the region to prosper."

However, the story needed to be authentic and ring true for the Waikato, she said.

McLean has her own Waikato story, one which she thought had ended in her early 20's.

She grew up in the region, but like most Kiwis she grabbed the opportunity to travel - first living and working in Wellington before heading overseas.

"I was never going to come back to Hamilton."

But in 2009 she ate her own words and come back she did.

"When I came back I really felt the huge potential, not just for the city, but the region."

She realised some challenges lay ahead, which included getting a strong cohesive story to tell others about the region.
It is a region that performs at a high standard.

"We are tentative about talking about ourselves, we are understated, not wanting to push ourselves above the radar."

The Waikato Story was a follow on from the New Zealand story which was developed after Joyce realised the need for a cohesive story about the country, while he was in Shanghai.

From there the open hearts, open minds and open spaces story was formulated.

Having a story was an essential part of economic success, Joyce reiterated.

He was glad to be back in Hamilton, a place he lived for five years.

Initially it did not leave the greatest impression on him, but he grew to love it, even claiming some of his fondest memories were made in the region.

There was an economic need to be able to tell a consistent story, scattered with everyone's personal Waikato story, he said.

"I started my own Waikato story when we bought a radio station here in 1993," Joyce said.

The radio station was The Rock. He also bought a station called The Buzzard.

"We weren't sure about the name and changed it to The Edge. The rest is history."

The other part of his own Waikato story was his association with the Waikato Expressway.

"The Prime Minister said to me, you're the transport guy. Once that had been decided David Bennett more or less camped outside my office to get the expressway."

The Waikato reflected success to Joyce, as it should for other people, he said.

From Stuff.co.nz