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Wairarapa joins the Age-Friendly Network

Wairarapa leaders have welcomed the region’s inclusion in the World Health Organisation’s [WHO] Age-Friendly Cities and Communities programme.

Carterton, Masterton, and South Wairarapa districts have joined like-minded cities and communities across the world committed to becoming more age-friendly and facilitating the exchange of information, resources, and best practices.

In New Zealand, Gore and New Plymouth District Councils and Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton City Councils are already part of the global network.

Joining the programme signals an intent to continue its journey towards becoming age-friendly through the work of Te Hōkai Nuku/Wairarapa Positive Ageing Strategy 2019.

The WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities was established in 2010 to connect cities, communities and organisations that shared the common vision of making their community a great place to grow old in.

Masterton mayor Gary Caffell welcomed the news.

“Our kuia, kaumātua and older residents make a huge investment in our community, economically and in their strong support of community events, both in terms of organisation and participation, and their equally strong involvement in the local government election process.

“I have spent the second half of my life in Masterton and Wairarapa and I think this community has always valued, and cherished its older people, and sought to hear their voices.

“I have seen our town grow, and part of that growth has been welcoming people back to the region as they grow older or move into retirement. Furthermore, I am now at the stage in life where I not only fit the older person description but benefit from the kaupapa developed from the Positive Ageing Strategy and Age-Friendly Cities and Communities work.”

Caffell said Masterton was working with and aspiring to be an age-friendly community and Wairarapa shared the principles.

Mayor Martin Connelly of South Wairarapa agreed.

“Being part of the network, sharing and implementing its vision will benefit people of all ages. Accessibility to services is advantageous to all and enhances solidarity.”

Carterton mayor Ron Mark said older people were an integral part of our social and cultural fabric.

“I have grown up and old with many of Wairarapa’s older people. They serve this community all their lives and continue to do so today. Whether they are reasonably new to Carterton and Wairarapa or they are born and bred here, we cherish the experience, knowledge, and kindness they bring.

“The Wairarapa Positive Ageing Strategy is important to our work in council to ensure access for everyone is considered across all our mahi. From branding guidelines to building guidance, our older people are one of the groups we consider first. We will continue to incorporate the strategy in our work and weave in the strands of the Age-Friendly City and Communities programme.”

Lisa Matthews, Wairarapa positive ageing strategy co-ordinator, said joining the network would help Wairarapa councils.

“Drawing on a world of knowledge and experience through both national and international networks will be beneficial to the work of the strategy. It also sends a strong message to our communities that we are committed to creating an age-friendly Wairarapa.”

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