Backing for Tokoroa 'lockout' plan

FLORENCE KERR
Last updated 10:14 06/05/2014
 Tokoroa
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

TOKOROA: Embrace the change, says Tokoroa born Dan Buckley, the founder of clothing label Huffer.

Dan Buckley
FAIRFAX NZ
CHANGE IS GOOD: Dan Buckley, who grew up in Tokoroa, says the change could be good. "Turn Tokoroa into a town with a new perspective."

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A proposal that could see Tokoroa locked out of an amalgamated Waikato council should be embraced, says the founder of a well-known international clothing line.

Dan Buckley, who grew up in Tokoroa, launched the Huffer brand over 15 years ago but left in 2011 to start a new clothing label called Think Think.

He's decided to speak out about a draft proposal by the Waikato Property Council which could result in the departure of Waikato stalwarts Tokoroa and Te Kuiti.

Buckley believes "change is good."

"Embrace change I say. Go for it. Turn Tokoroa into a town with a new perspective."

Buckley, who attended Tokoroa High School, said the proposal "could rattle things up a bit".

"I dislike ‘Oh, that's the way things have always been,'. . . I'm all for keeping it fresh, keep it changing," he said.

Waitomo resident Martha Smyth questioned whether the change would be damaging.

"You have to wonder if the doom and gloom being spun on this amalgamation is horrible? Will Colin Meads still be from Te Kuiti? Yes. Will I still have a job? Yes. Will my family still love me? Yes. Then what's the problem?"

Waikato Times surveyed district mayors last month, who were united in maintaining the status quo - keeping governance in their districts.

Thomas Gibbons, chairman of the Property Council's local government subcommittee, said the boundary-setting exercise of their amalgamation plan had been "very difficult".

"It's been the number one bit of feedback."

Gibbons told a meeting of members last week that the southern areas of those districts left out of the council's plans should combine with Taupo and Rotorua districts to make an amalgamated Central Plateau council.

However, he is not ruling out the inclusion of Tokoroa and Te Kuiti in the council's submission.

Asked if the council had received feedback from the general public Gibbons said they hadn't and it was "unfortunate".

Both Waitomo and South Waikato District councils, who are part of the Waikato Mayoral Forum, have been vocal about keeping local democracy in local hands.

Labour's Local Government spokesperson Su'a William Sio believed in the work already being done by the forum.

"There are strong existing models of shared services by councils that are working well, which provide strong arguments against the government's imposed amalgamation approach. People want more participation and more open democracy, not less."

The submission by the property council has not yet been submitted to Local Government New Zealand.

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