Feilding - Rangitikei Herald

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I have been out and about in both the Rangitikei and further afield recently.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day in Northland visiting local businesses including a very impressive Silver Fern Farms beef plant in Dargaville; and a small tourism business called Dargaville Rail Tours.

They offer self-drive rail adventures in converted golf carts, which travel on the unused railway line between Dargaville and Tangowahine. It reminded me a little of the Rangitikei's own Taumarunui Rail Trail business 'Forgotten World Adventures'.

They have made a name for themselves by providing rides on selfdriven rail carts or rail bikes through a remote and unique rural landscape.

I had the pleasure of visiting a number of Whanganui businesses recently too, along with my fellow MPs Chester Borrows, Jonathon Young and Brett Hudson. Our first stop was Q-West Boat Builders down at the Port, which is a very impressive operation - and a shining example of a proactive and innovative provincial business that is thriving. We then went to McCarthy's Transport, amongst other things, they shift thousands of logs every day on their 110 Trucks; and run a seamless integrated operation by effectively utilising the services provided by Kiwi Rail.

The Forest Owners Management Services (FOMS) site was next on the agenda. Their business offers forest harvesting and marketing services to private forest owners across the North Island. Finally we visited animal health products firm Vita Power which is owned and operated by the Palamountain family who supply scientific animal nutrition products to the world.

I visited Bainesse School, where Water Safety NZ and sponsor Garnier Ambre Solaire have joined forces to support the school as it works to save its pool. This was also rewarding. Olympic athlete and Water Safe Ambassador Lauren Boyle was there and even swam a couple of lengths of the school pool to promote the importance of learning to swim while you're at school.

Lauren is very big on saving school pools too. Of great concern is the fact that 156 school pools throughout New Zealand have closed in the past 10 years and a further 130 are under threat of closure.

The announcement of the Nga Puna Rau Rangitikei Programme in partnership with Mokai Patea Iwi was exciting.

This initiative makes available $730,000 to the local community to look after the Rangitikei River. It involves planting the sides of the waterways, monitoring the health of the river and working out a long term plan to look after the river and its tributaries.

As part of the launch I went to a Powhiri at the Rata Marae, and helped plant part of the Porewa Stream - it was great to be involved in such an exciting project.