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The weeks are dissolving with multiple meetings each day with residents, business owners, community groups, and those who care for our most vulnerable.

This past week Sharon and I attended the BOP Export Awards which showcased the many #Tauranga businesses who are selling their products and services to the world. This, and my meeting with Small Business Tauranga, arranged by their Chair Zita Cameron, further reinforced to me that Tauranga is the epicentre of entrepreneurship and innovation activity.

I also had the pleasure of speaking at the official opening of Tomkins Wake Lawyers who have opened a General Law Practice in the Tauranga CBD. Like many business and professional services firms, Tomkins Wake see opportunities in Tauranga as the sub-region continues to grow.

Some of that growth is in Hi-Tech entertainment and tourism. I met Craig Saunders, CEO of The Aviator Experience, an incredibly realistic VR flight simulator experience based at Tauranga airport. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to fly a Spitfire over Normandy, this is the place to find out.

Some of week was spent with retailers in the CBD who are finding things very tough, including my Matua Primary and Otumoetai College school friend Debbie Baker. The retailers need support and they need a practical plan to attract business back to downtown Tauranga.

Lastly, I met with those who look after our most vulnerable. I was warmly invited by the indefatigable Tracey Maree Carlton and her wonderful team at Street Kai to help serve Kai on #MiloNight in Willow Street; I met some truly amazing people that night. Later in the week, I met the wonderful Liz Kite and her equally amazing team at the Tauranga Moana Night Shelter. I was very impressed with the living environment they create for their residents, some of whom are long term. I believe we need to more accurately quantify the magnitude of homelessness in Tauranga to ensure it is accurately understood and appropriately resourced.

I’m grateful to you all for making Sharon and I feel so welcomed and very much back at home.

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