PGF boost to future-proof Manawatū-Whanganui economy

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $772,000 in opportunities for growth in Manawatū-Whanganui, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

NZ Bio-Forestry Limited will receive a $380,000 boost for game-changing research which could unlock significant growth in the wood processing sector, while Horizons Regional Council will receive $200,000 for the refresh of the region’s economic action plan, Accelerate25.

“The Coalition Government wants less raw logs shipped overseas and more processing happening domestically, particularly in our regions. We also know that trees play a huge role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions not just by absorbing carbon, but through innovative use of wood fibre,” Shane Jones said.

“Research led by NZ Bio-Forestry Limited could lead to New Zealand’s first bio-plastics facility in Manawatū-Whanganui, and put NZ Radiata Pine at the centre of solving recycling challenges.”

“The research will consider whether NZ Radiata Pine is a viable alternative to carbon-based plastics like food packaging and single-use cups, and can be used for high-value plywood. The could lead to a processing facility being built to manufacture these products and enable more efficient processing by making use of the entire log, thereby reducing waste.

“Nationally, this research is a key step in developing technology which could help New Zealand meet climate change targets and transition to a low emission economy. For the wood processing industry, this would lead to increased productivity, new jobs, and growth across many regions which could also use the technology. Given the majority of forests in Manawatū-Whanganui are on iwi-owned land, there is also an opportunity for this project to improve economic returns for Māori.

“The PGF will also provide funding support to Rangitikei District Council to develop its plan to establish a rural water supply scheme for its region, and provide funding to assist Tararua and Whanganui with support to undertake economic development projects.

“We’ll also invest $200,000 in Horizons Regional Council to refresh the Accelerate25 economic action plan. This will make sure priorities for the area reflect recent changes in regional economies, keeping local people front and center of spearheading Manawatū-Whanganui’s pathway to a stronger regional economy,” Shane Jones said.

The projects announced today were:

  • NZ Bio-Forestry Limited $380,000
  • Horizons Regional Council $200,000
  • Tutaenui Community Agricultural Water Scheme $120,000
  • Capability Funding Support for Tararua District Council $32,000
  • Application Funding Support for Whanganui $40,000

Notes to editors: Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.

NZ Bio-Forestry Limited is based in the central North Island and connects to a network of businesses and groups in Singapore and Taiwan.

The network started in early 2018 to spearhead the development of this project, and brings together scientific, technological, business and investment expertise.

NZ Bio-Forestry Limited’s regional alliance team includes representatives from district councils, Horizons Regional Council through Accelerate25, and iwi.