The Waikato needs to break away from Auckland’s Anniversary and celebrate its own ‘Waikato Day’ annual public holiday, says the Chief Executive of the region’s community foundation.

Kelvyn Eglinton of Momentum Waikato reckons it is absurd that the Waikato marks Auckland’s Anniversary on the last Monday of January each year.

Currently, the boundaries of the nation’s regional days-off are based on the provincial governments that existed from the 1850s to the 1870s, with ‘Auckland Anniversary’ happening across the entire upper North Island.

“The Mighty Waikato needs to proudly stand on its own two feet and celebrate its own sense of place as a great region, it is time we moved to having an annual Waikato Day, even if it is on the same date as the current Auckland Anniversary holiday,” says Kelvyn.

“I’m calling on the Waikato to have a public conversation on how best to celebrate this region with an annual public holiday that showcases the awesomeness of the Waikato!

“Kirikiriroa, Hamilton, The Tron, the capital of the Waikato really is the nation’s City of the Future. The economy here is accelerating and diversifying, with an abundance of exciting breakthrough developments like the Ruakura Inland Port, the Waikato Expressway, Union Square, The Pā at the University, and our own Waikato Regional Theatre, all of which will benefit the whole region.

“We already have the award-winning Hamilton Gardens, smart innovative education providers in Wintec, Te Wananga o Aotearoa and The University of Waikato, and the remarkable Waikato Museum.

“With new smart inner city living taking off and tidy new suburbs rolling out, in the city that is close to everything, the lifestyle offering is hard to beat and only going to get better. There is a good reason why corporates and government head offices are moving here.

“The Waikato as a whole continues to be the national economy’s heavy lifter – the latest Fonterra pay-out forecast for farmers is great news for Aotearoa’s greatest dairy district.

“Kiingi Tuuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII lives at Tuurangawaewae, the Kiingitanga stands here. The Waikato has been central to Maaori lives for centuries, there are strong and growing iwi and hapu across the entire rohe.

“We are home to Fieldays, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural show, some of the nation’s greatest sporting teams and venues, popular beer and ice cream companies offering the best products you’ll find anywhere, global-export manufacturers boxing way above their weight.

“We go from coast to coast with world-class waves breaking on both sides, from ski-able mountains to the south to the boaties’ paradise of the Coromandel, with fantastic tourism attractions in between, from hobbits to caves to motorsport tracks.

“The environment here has its challenges like everywhere, but the beautiful Waikato awa, New Zealand’s longest river, still runs through it and projects like the Maungatautari Ecological Reserve are leading the land in biodiversity restoration.

“Clearly, the Waikato is going places and deserves to strengthen its distinct identity with its own day of regional celebration.

“Can we as the Mighty Waikato celebrate all that is great about our region and claim this holiday as our own?

“Can a date be chosen that is simply a good time of year for a holiday in the Waikato? Or do we keep the current long weekend at the end of January and just rebrand and repurpose it to recognise all that is great about our history, our culture, our people, our businesses and our environment?

“I have no preference, I just think the time has come to celebrate the Waikato, rather than the big city over the Bombays. Let’s decide when and how it should be and then get the necessary legislation passed to make it happen!

“Momentum Waikato exists to help the Waikato realise its destiny as the prosperous engine of the nation’s economy, to build ‘A Better Waikato for Everyone, Forever’.

“We are growing an endowment fund that will in the decades ahead provide the Waikato with the resources to realise its public good projects without always going ‘cap in hand’ to Wellington.

“Right now, we are also driving the Waikato Regional Theatre project, which aims to make Kirikiriroa-Hamilton into a recognised cultural capital and the Waikato into a hotbed for the performing arts,” says Kelvyn.

“The Waikato is a great region that we’re all proud to call home, let’s put it on the map AND the calendar.”