I’m battling for change


OPINION: Queenstown has grown rapidly in the past 10 years, the growth even started before then.

Our beautiful piece of paradise became home to many, and as a result the town has expanded more and more on the fringes.

Take Shotover Country, Lakes Hayes Estate and Jack’s Point, for example, all areas born as a result of Queenstown’s growth.

But like what happens in many areas of growth, something is always forgotten.

The accommodation supplement is one area which has been forgotten about in Queenstown’s growth.

As a result, areas like Shotover Country and Lakes Hayes Estate are considered rural.

Currently ‘area one’, designated as urban, only covers Queenstown central, Frankton, Arthurs Point, Kelvin Heights and Arrowtown.

The issue with this discrepancy is that Lower Shotover and Lake Hayes are by no means rural areas – claims supported by the last published census, Queenstown Lakes District Council and Stats NZ.

You and I probably shake our heads that these places could even be considered rural but this definition is having a dramatic effect on some of our community.

The difference between individuals accessing the accommodation supplement in an area-one home, as opposed to an area-four home, is extreme.

Depending on the household’s circumstances, a change of designation from an area-four home to an area-one home could amount to an extra $120-$150 per week for those struggling with the high cost of living here in Queenstown.

I want to assure the people of Queenstown I have been lobbying the government for several months to get this changed to ensure it is fair for those people living in Lower Shotover and Lake Hayes Estate.

I want to thank those who wrote supporting letters in my appeal to the government.

An extra $120-$150 per week makes a huge difference to many people. In many cases, it is the make or break in what bills are getting paid.

Queenstown is often seen as a high-income resort town but the fact is living costs are also higher as a result and that $120-$150 some people are missing out on because of zoning is causing some people to struggle.

I’m doing all I can in lobbying the minister and the government so this situation can be remedied and hopefully provide some relief for those who need it.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish our Queenstown Robostormers all the best for their World Champs in Dubai coming up.

I was lucky enough to meet up with team members Pearce Summerfield, Oscar Childs, Josh Nyberg, Minnie Tam and Monique Rider recently as they prepare for their trip.

The competition theme is ‘Ocean Opportunities’, and the team will be programming their robots to complete a range of tasks on the competition table like removing plastics from the seas.

These kids are super talented and there has been some effort by some very committed parents to get them on their way where they will represent New Zealand.

Hamish Walker is Queenstown’s MP