Speech at Ngati Hine Forestry Trust joint venture launch
Speech at Ngati Hine Forestry Trust Joint Venture launch
31 May 2018
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This is an auspicious occasion
What today represents is when words in Wellington become a reality in the provinces.
NZ First coalition role
Should anyone have any doubt about the point of difference New Zealand First brings to the coalition government then today will be evident of that point of difference.
If you read the coalition agreement will see the very first priority written in the document is Regional Economic Development, and Primary Industries.
The agreement specifically states: “New Zealand First has a number of priorities to progress which Labour will support.”
And those priorities are a major investment in our regions, in particular forestry and rail infrastructure rebuilds.
As the smaller party in this coalition government the point should not be lost about the beneficial influence New Zealand First is bringing to bear.
It is my party’s view that New Zealand generally, and our regions in particular, need to transform economically and socially, in the face of significant underinvestment.
In the coalition agreement New Zealand First negotiated for the Provincial Growth Fund because the country needs a step-change for regional economic development.
The coalition government finalised the first year allocation of $1 billion for the PGF in this year’s budget – whilst still making major investment in health and education, and balancing the books with good surpluses.
The goal of the PGF to target projects that increase economic activity in the regions, to lift the skills of the workforce, to increase employment and wages, to improve use of community and Māori assets, and to improve transport connections within and between regions.
Priority is being given to regions that have traditionally have poorer than average outcomes such as Tai Tokerau/Northland, Tairāwhiti/East Coast, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Manawatū-Whanganui, and the West Coast.
Within the PGF, funding of $245 million has been put aside to support the government’s One Billion Trees planting programme for this year alone.
It allows programmes, such as we are witnessing today, to get underway.
Some political opponents have been questioning the ambition or numbers for tree plantings, and questioned delivery.
Yet those political opponents have questions of their own to answer. What did you ever do? And how did you ever allow the situation to develop?
Today’s event marks a willingness by the coalition government to tackle the big problems in our regions which has been unaddressed for many years. These are problems of inequality, poverty, unemployment, and economic under performance.
How it works
The Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust is now part of the first joint venture with the Crown under the One Billion Trees programme.
This venture with newly reconstituted Forestry NZ or Te Uru Rakau will lead to half a million pine trees planted this year and a further 2 million pine trees over the next three years.
As well nearly 500 hectares of Manuka will be planted in preparation for a future apiculture business.
It is an initial step but in the long run this initiative will pave the way to jobs, skills, and opportunity.
The Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust should be commended for your participation. As a result you are one of the pathfinders in a step change for the regions.
New Zealand First colleague, Regional Economic Development and Forestry Minister, Shane Jones, thank you for your work and the achievement that today represents.
There have been many politicians who have attended tree plantings for a photo opportunity.
But one photo and one tree doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t make a difference.
Programmes like we are witnessing today do make a difference. And it’s only just the beginning.