Speech: Round three of Tourism Infrastructure Fund announcement

Round three of Tourism Infrastructure Fund announcement.

Matapōuri Beach, Northland. 13 July 2019.

Tourism is a vital part of New Zealand’s future success.  It continues to be our largest export earner, contributing $39 billion dollars to the economy each year and directly employing over 200,000 people.

It brings many benefits to our country and our people, both at a national and a regional level.

It’s a big part of the economic success of our regions, including here in Northland.

Tourism also provides an opportunity for Aotearoa to showcase our culture, environment and heritage to the world.

We have seen a 35 per cent growth in visitor arrivals in the last five years – and we expect to have over five million annual international visitors by 2025.

That huge visitor growth has increased the opportunities and benefits of tourism, but it has also highlighted the undeniable challenges that come with it.

And this Government is responding to these challenges in a number of ways:       

  • I recently launched our New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy which sets out our plan to take a more active and co-ordinated role in tourism, so that tourism growth is productive, sustainable and inclusive.
  • We set up the Responsible Camping Working Group with $16.5 million investment over two summers for infrastructure, education and enforcement projects.
  • Tiaki - Care for New Zealand and the Tiaki Promise is a great example of government and industry partnership and asks us all to act as guardians to preserve and protect our home now and for future generations.
  • And we’ve established the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) that is expected to raise $450 million over five years for sustainable tourism infrastructure and to protect our natural environment.

This Government is determined to put the long-term wellbeing of New Zealanders and the environment at the heart of what we do.

Our plan is to make sure the benefits of tourism are realised for our country and our people, while managing the impacts. Today I’m very pleased to announce the latest part of that plan.

The Government will be investing nearly $12 million in co-funding from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund to help 25 councils around New Zealand make the most out of the opportunities tourism can bring.

Over $45 million has been invested from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund across three funding rounds, for 120 projects up and down Aotearoa.

Whangārei is also benefiting from this.

With very good reason, Matapōuri Beach is touted as one of the best beaches in New Zealand by Lonely Planet. Over summer, more than 1,000 people per day can visit this area. Matapōuri is under extreme pressure from increasing visitor numbers and lack of infrastructure which is having a detrimental effect on the natural environment. 

I know Whangārei District Council has received many complaints from the community about visitors parking in unsafe areas, inadequate rubbish and recycling facilities and a lack of bus turning spaces, toilets and changing rooms, and drinking water.

The water quality is suffering to the extent that the local hapū of Te Rangiwhakaahu has placed a rāhui over Te Wai o te Taniwha – the Mermaid Pools - until it can be restored and managed appropriately.

I recently took a trip out here to visit with the hapū and hear of the impacts that tourism has had here. 

The local hapū and community took it upon themselves to try to address the situation by forming a group called Kapakaitiaki to help educate visitors about the need to look after their rohe, wahitapu and taonga.

They have provided painted marker posts and continue to be involved in the education and welcoming of visitors in a unique and positive way.

It was enlightening to hear of your aspirations as a hapū on ways to move this popular destination forward in a sustainable manner.

I just want you to know that, as a Government, we take your concerns seriously.

So I’m pleased to further announce that, as part of this round of investment, $1.1 million in co-funding has been approved for a project to restore the mauri of Matapōuri Beach.

This investment will fund infrastructure on areas owned and maintained by the Council for new public toilets, changing rooms, carpark upgrades, wastewater quality treatment, and rubbish and recycling facilities here at Matapōuri Beach.

The benefits of this to the visitor experience, as well as in restoring and protecting this great area, will be felt for years to come.

In my role as Minister of Tourism I have been encouraging collaboration to ensure the ongoing success of tourism.  We need everyone – Treaty partners, central and local government, the tourism industry and the New Zealand public to work together. It is the only way that we as a country can ensure that New Zealand continues to benefit from the visitor sector.

This project is a truly collaborative effort between Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu Hapū Trust and the Council.

I’d like to thank you for working in partnership to protect and enhance this truly remarkable taonga.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātau katoa.