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March 12, 2024 March 2024, Regular Features No Comments

By Martin Connelly

In February the local Lions Club invited me for dinner and asked me to speak for a short time on the

“State of the District” among other things.

It was a lovely evening with many laughs and a lot of camaraderie. If there are newcomers to the

district who would like to join a service club that combines socialising with being good citizens, I

suggest you make contact with the club.

I thought I would share the main points of our discussion, sStarting with my leading observation that the district is doing very well. 

A recent story in the Wellington newspaper “The Post”, revealed that Wellington house prices have risen 64% over the last 10 years. 

But in the South Wairarapa that rise has been 123%. 

Unemployment is 2.4% in this district compared to 3.5% for the whole of New Zealand. While the number on benefits has increased, the local MSD staff have been very successful at getting people back into work.

One of the measures that I use to judge how well the district is being perceived is through the

number of welcome letters I send out each month to people who have purchased new properties.

And that number of newcomers to the district has remained steady at between 20 and 30 families a


As far as this district is doing, I think we are doing very well. Things are not perfect of course, you

only need to look at the number of families using the food bank to see that there are problems.

However, should I need a foodbank to assist me, I would much rather be in the South Wairarapa

than anywhere else in New Zealand. May Croft and her team do an amazing job.

The other thing that is a problem in some parts of the district is a lack of doctors. If you are older or

have young children with health problems, this can be a real concern. Unfortunately, this is a

countrywide problem.

We then got talking about the state of Martinborough. 

I asked: “has the look and feel of the town changed since this time last year?” Most people said no, that it was still OK. 

I observed that I thought the town itself was doing well but that coastal Martinborough had some problems. There are still problems on some of the roads and the cyclones have shown, as if we needed reminding, how vulnerable some parts of the coast are. 

We discussed the problems with the wastewater plant. Everyone present understood how this problem had come about but there were many in the room who said it was having a negative effect

on the construction trades. 

While the wastewater plant work will not have done anyone any favours, the country is going through a slowdown in the building and construction industries. It affects all parts of the country and the other two towns in this district. 

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development expects a 20% decline in building activity this year, compared to the recent past.

Overall, I think things are very positive in Martinborough at the moment. I base my impression on

talking to people in town every week and chatting to visitors. Big events such as the fairs and the

music festivals have created a positive vibe enjoyed by visitors and with locals. 

Most people I talk to think it is a great place to live in, or that it would be a wonderful place to move to. We cannot ask for much more than that.


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