More young families in Selwyn

IDEAL: Andrew (left), Chris, Beth and Tim Sharpe moved to Selwyn in 2014 and say it's the "perfect" place to raise a family. PHOTO: NINA HENDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY.

Beth and Chris Sharpe are among the growing number of young families living in the district. Emily O’Connell reports

For the Sharpe family, it was Chris’ work which led them to move to the district in December 2014.

But according to his wife, Beth, it’s also the perfect place to raise children.

“The lifestyle here is nice because the pace of life is a lot slower which is really nice with a family,” she said.

They are among a growing number of young families
living in Selwyn. The district council’s Long Term Plan predicts 55 per cent of the population will be aged under 39-years-old in 2028.

The Sharpe family moved to Selwyn as Chris’ job with Trustpower had been transferred from Dunedin to Lake Coleridge. He works as a technical team leader at the Coleridge hydroelectric generation scheme.

When the family of four first moved to the district, they settled in Kirwee.

But less than a year later the Sharpes moved to Darfield after finding a suitable house.

“Darfield has a really nice community as well [as Kirwee] and we managed to find a house there,” Mrs Sharpe said.

At 37 and 33-years-old, Mr and Mrs Sharpe help make up 34 per cent of the district’s population who are aged between 15 and 39-years-old.

Mrs Sharpe says in the almost four years they’ve lived in Selwyn, she’s seen an increase
in young families living in the area.

“There definitely are a lot more families, I’ve noticed more families at more things,” she said.

The district has 30 primary and secondary schools which are helping accommodate for the growing number of children and teenagers.

District council community relations manager Denise Kidd said it understands the population has changed and it has worked to provide key assets to the community.

“Like the Selwyn Aquatic Centre, community and event centres, libraries which also host a range of events, sporting grounds and dozens of playgrounds around Selwyn featuring a range of interactive play areas,” she said.

Ms Kidd said it also works to provide programmes such as KidsFest, Boost and CultureFest as ways to engage the
community and provide entertainment for a wide range of local residents.

“Through engagement and consultation we also work to investigate whether current facilities meet the needs of our ever changing and developing communities,” she said.

Mrs Sharpe said the district has good facilities and her children, Tim, 7, and Andrew, 4, attend library story times and community gymnastics.

“If anything, I would say there are too many options which is funny because you’d think living rurally that there wouldn’t be enough choices for things to do with kids,” she said.

Mrs Sharpe said their favourite thing to do as a family is visit McHugh’s Plantation.

“It’s so close and you can just go and feel like you’re miles away from everything and it’s walking distance from our home,” she said.

Data from the 2013 census shows an increase in young parents moving to the district over an 11-year period.

In 2001 there were 120 parents aged under 25-years-old living in Selwyn. This increased to 237 by 2013.

Similiarly, in 2001 there were 1674 parents aged between 25-years-old and 34-years-old living in the district. This increased to 1986 by 2013.

In 2015 the district council adopted its Newcomers and Migrants Strategy after conducting research and working with a mixture of key community groups and agencies within the district.

The strategy sets the direction and aims to address the needs of people new to the district so that they can settle well and call Selwyn their home.


•About 59,000 people currently live in the district. This is expected to grow to 79,200 by 2028.

•The district’s largest township is Rolleston, with 17,348 people. In ten years, it’s expected 26,472 people will reside in Rolleston.

•In 2028, there will be 29,584 households in Selwyn, about 8000 more than there is currently.

•34.3 per cent of the district’s population is expected to be between the ages of 15 and 39 in 2028.