Dairying attracts Maori to Waimate

Waimate's Maori population has increased nearly 20 per cent since 2006, a trend being attributed to the increase in dairying.

According to 2013 census figures, 447 people of Maori descent usually live in the Waimate District, an increase of 72 people, or 19.2 per cent, on the 2006 census.

As of the 2013 census, 7536 people call the Waimate District home, an increase of 327, or 4.5 per cent.

Waimate mayor Craig Rowley believed there were several reasons why the district had seen an increase in the number of Maori residents. "It's pleasing to see increased population growth in relation to Maori people in the Waimate District.

"I believe this is largely due to the rapid and constant land change within the district, namely the dairy industry. This is attracting residents from throughout New Zealand, including a large number of immigrants.

"After having spoken with Steve Boyd of the Waihao Marae, it's clear that the increase in the Maori population is not directly related to returning local iwi."

Te Runanga o Waihao chairman Graeme Lane said he thought cheaper living costs and housing, alongside land use related to dairying, has "probably contributed" to a general increase in jobs for Maori in the area.

"This in turn has contributed in drawing labour from other areas, both nationally and internationally."

Rowley believes Waimate is "rapidly becoming" a multicultural society, which is reflected in the cultural makeup of local schools, particularly in rural areas, where there are pupils from a range of nations, including the Philippines, Nepal and Brazil.

"The increasing multicultural society within the Waimate District just adds to our district's appeal, being a vibrant and caring community," he said.

Waimate's total population ranks 63rd in size out of 67 districts nationally, while its Maori population ranks 65th.

The Timaru Herald