'Rotting' Ngaruawahia hits back at Heather du Plessis-Allan

Heather du Plessis-Allan on the cover of the Waikato Times (Heather du Plessis-Allan/Twitter)
Heather du Plessis-Allan on the cover of the Waikato Times (Heather du Plessis-Allan/Twitter)

Ngaruawahia has hit back after Story presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan bagged the "rotting" Waikato town.

In a column for the Herald on Sunday, the Story presenter said she'd rather "hold on for Mercer than to stop to pee in Ngaruawahia", and a homeless Auckland family sent there would have "a home but no hope".

The Waikato Times today published a rebuttal, with Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson saying du Plessis-Allan "really upset locals".

He said truckies "line the street" for pies from the local bakery and the public toilets "are the busiest toilets around".

"That was a bit of tongue-in-cheek," Mr Sanson told Newshub. "There are some very good food stores here that sell some beautiful food, and I can attest to that."

If du Plessis-Allan doesn't like the loos in Ngaruawahia, Mr Sanson says there are plenty others -- including Huntly, Gordonton, Rangiriri.

The Government recently announced it would pay the homeless and state housing tenants $5000 to move out of Auckland and into smaller, less-crowded towns like Ngaruawahia. Mr Sanson says it won't solve Auckland's woes, instead pushing for high-speed rail from Hamilton to Auckland, passing through smaller towns like Huntly and Ngaruawahia.

While Mr Sanson admits Ngaruawahia itself doesn't have much going on, it's only a 12-minute drive to the big-city thrills of Hamilton, and next-door-neighbour Horitiu has the jobs, with facilities belonging to AFFCO and other agricultural and industrial companies.

"Ngaruawahia's always been a dormitory town, and its employment has actually been Horotiu, which is effectively part of Ngaruawahia anyway," he says.

Ports of Auckland recently purchased a large piece of land just south of Ngaruawahia, which Mr Sanson says will generate hundreds of new jobs.

Du Plessis-Allan, who tweeted a photo of herself reading the rebuttal, says she's keen to check out what "jaffas" are supposedly missing out on.

"Having grown up in Tūākau I'm no stranger to the Waikato. But after hearing from Ngaruawahia residents, I've accepted an offer from the Mayor to come down and see the best it has to offer," she says.

"Were my views wrong? I'll be heading down very soon to do a piece for Story and find out."

Mr Sanson is looking forward to changing du Plessis-Allan's mind.

"I get what Heather was trying to do, but I think the way she went about it in dissing Ngaruawahia wasn't the right approach to it."

Ngaruawahia had a population of 5127 at the 2013 census, up 21 -- or 0.4 percent -- since 2006. New Zealand as a whole grew 17 times faster.

"The growth in the north Waikato has only really started to occur in the last three years," says Mr Sanson. "There's a lot of new houses here, which you don't see from the road."

And they cost a fraction what they do in Auckland.

"You can buy some beautiful homes for $400,000 or $500,000. The same home in Auckland would probably cost three times as much."


Contact Newshub with your story tips: