Wallacetown a big winner in census figures
Satellite communities, close to Invercargill but "a wee bit countrified", are the focus of Southland's population growth.
Data released by Statistics New Zealand this week shows the populations of rural communities close to Invercargill have increased since the last census.
Wallacetown is one of the big winners, experiencing a 12.7 per cent increase during the past seven years.
Wallacetown School principal Neville Hore said he believed the town had grown as it was convenient to Invercargill but offered more spacious and peaceful properties than in the city.
Wallacetown was going through a demographic turnover as younger families moved into houses vacated by retiring seniors, coupled with a "baby boom", filling the playcentre and boosting the school roll, he said.
The community also had plenty of resources and leisure groups for people to take advantage of, he said.
"There's some lovely people out here, great community support."
Wallacetown Community Board member Shaun Holland said there had been a lot of new buildings going up in the town and businesses were returning.
The town was "a wee bit countrified" but still only a few minutes from Invercargill for commuters.
Wallacetown also had great facilities, like the community hall which had been in demand since Stadium Southland collapsed, Mr Holland said.
Makarewa has also experienced a similar revival, with its population jumping 9.3 per cent.
Makarewa School principal Kevin Silcock said the school's roll had increased during the past few years, with the number of pupils expected to hit 150 by the end of the year.
In contrast, the populations of western Southland communities such as Otautau, Ohai and Tuatapere have slumped in the past seven years.
Census data reveals the population of Otautau has shrunk 11.2 per cent, while Ohai has slipped by 15.1 per cent, in part because of declining industries in those areas.
Long-serving Otautau Community Board member Ken Davidson attributed the population decline to ageing residents and more older people retiring to Invercargill, with younger families in the district having fewer children.
Although the population was down, Mr Davidson believed the town was still in great shape.
It had top facilities, including Holt Park, a bustling school and a new riverbank walkway, he said.
"We're a quite progressive, quiet little town.
"If we want something done, we do it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.