Within the Manawatū region there are three significant Defence Force Bases that directly contribute to the regional economy and provide a significant social contribution to the communities where the Defence personnel live.
"The New Zealand Defence Force is proud to have a home in the Manawatū with major camps and bases at Linton and Ohakea and more recently with the National Defence College at Hokowhitu," says Joint Defence Services Chief Charles Lott. "This statement of intent recognises our contribution and creates a foundation for building stronger relationships."
Manawatū District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis believes those relationships will encourage and enable growth.
"We are delighted that Ohakea Air Force Base lies within our district as we benefit enormously from contribution that defence personnel and their families make to our community. Not only do many of them take up residence amongst us, but we get the opportunity to educate their children and support their families.
"We see the Manawatū as a hub of capability for Defence and related activities. We want to enable closer working relationships between our joint Councils and the Defence Force so that we can encourage shared strategies for growth and jobs."
The Statement of Intent provides a framework to ensure that relationship is actively managed and that where possible collaborative outcomes are identified and implemented.
As the region grows there may be opportunities where the Councils and Defence can work together to develop infrastructure that can grow the Defence hub or benefit the community.
Palmerston North City Mayor Grant Smith says he considers Palmerston North to be a military city. "Our close ties with the Defence Force go back many years. In October, Linton Army Camp held a parade through the City to reconfirm the 1956 Charter giving the Camp freedom of the borough."
"Many members of the defence force make the city their home. They play sport; belong to clubs, societies and school boards of trustees."
Mayor Smith says the region recognises the special contribution made by the Defence Force. "One way we can acknowledge this is through showcasing what they do for our community, businesses and the country."
The Statement of Intent is the outcome of strategy discussions between the mayors and Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating that sought to integrate the Defence Force into the long-term planning and to align the focus of the three groups beyond the military posting cycle and the effects of elections.
The Statement of Intent is for a period of ten years.