Far North PGF announcements
I’m proud to be standing here today, as both Tourism Minister and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau, to announce the Government’s investment, through the Provincial Growth Fund, in these key Far North projects.
These projects are driven by local people and will in turn drive the economy for the whole Northland region.
Through the PGF, this Government is prioritising investment in our regions.
From the primary industries to tourism, our regions do heavy lifting economically as well as giving this country its unique character. Visitors come to our regions to experience places like Waipoua Forest and Te Rerenga Wairua and discover what makes this country so special.
New Zealand’s economy is growing, wages are rising and unemployment is at its second lowest in a decade. But many parts of regional New Zealand have missed out on that growth.
Years of underinvestment in our regions has seen industries shifting out of the regions and into cites, or even offshore. Young people and families often have to move in search of work and opportunity.
Regions that have the highest proportions of Māori, like Northland, also have the highest unemployment levels and lowest household income levels.
To maximise New Zealand’s economic potential we have needed to rethink our approach to regional economic development and ensure every part of this country can prosper.
Through the PGF we are investing in the regions directly, backing communities and ensuring all Kiwis can share in the benefits of a strong economy.
I don’t have to tell you all the challenges we face in the Far North – unemployment almost double the national average, slow population growth, kids not in school or training.
Added to this, many of our rangatahi have to leave the district for school or work - and the Far North is experiencing a squeeze on workers too.
The Government is already working to turn the tide on these issues but I know communities in the Far North don’t make a habit of waiting for the Wellington bus to show up with ideas on turning things around.
Far North people like you are already working on projects and plans to support rangatahi, build business opportunities and stimulate the economy.
I’m really excited the PGF is able to turns those plans into reality.
Today’s investments include support for Sir Hekenukumai Busby’s Kupe Waka Centre at Aurere.
This project has potential to become a jewel in the crown for Northland tourism but most importantly will help preserve Sir Hek’s knowledge of celestial navigation and waka building for future generations.
The Centre will also provide jobs for skilled craftpeople and teachers and a place for rangitahi to learn from the master wayfinder and wakabuilder.
We’re also supporting some innovative ideas for revving up businesses here.
A barge at Te Mingi could create huge productivity gains for forestry around the Parengarenga Harbour, so we’re looking into that.
Safe and sustainable water supplies for growers and farmers would turbo charge the primary industries in the Far North and we’re looking into that too.
ANT Trust has made a real difference with programmes supporting whanau in the district. ANT has some new ideas on programmes that could do even more for Far North Iwi so we’re putting our shoulder into that work, supporting the Trust to help turn those ideas into reality.
And at Te Hiku we’re helping keep whanau in the area - and perhaps bring some new faces in too - by supporting the new sports complex.
The PGF has supported over 90 million dollars of projects in Northland so far and today’s investment brings that closer to 100 million.
We’ve set aside a further 20 million dollars for skills and training projects in the region, as well as increasing digital connectivity here.
It’s an acknowledgement both that there is a lot of mahi to be done here to bring the full benefits of a humming economy to the whole region, and that people here are full of good ideas on how to do that.
The PGF might be doing things differently but people of the Far North have always worked hard to improve the lives of friends and whanau.
Today’s announcement will help that work reach a whole lot further.