Jacinda Ardern made her first appearance as Prime Minister in Rotorua this morning and said she would not rest until "Maori and non-Maori are true partners in Aotearoa".
The Prime Minister spoke at the Federation of Maori Authorities (FOMA) National Conference at the Energy Events Centre and her main focus was on Maori development and the growth of primary industries.
Ardern said the Bay of Plenty was one of the regions with the highest proportion of Maori population and also a region with a high unemployment rate and low household income.
"I don't want us to rest until we achieve a country where someone's Maori heritage has no link at all to negative life outcomes."
The Prime Minister said through growth of primary industries such as the forestry sector she wanted to change the outcomes for Maori in the area.
"Maori own 30 per cent of the land under New Zealand's plantation forests, we need to build on that investment and expand Maori in forestry and the wood processing sector."
The Government made an announcement to plant one billion more trees in the next 10 years which Ardern said included native species.
She said the forestry sector would have to commit to planting double the amount of trees it currently did but said it was "achievable".
Ardern said this initiative would create jobs, stimulate economic growth in regions and help meet climate control commitments.
She said FOMA members were "hugely important" to Maori development, economic growth and the wider New Zealand economy.
The Government announced a $1 billion per annum Regional Development Fund earlier this year which would benefit regions such as the Bay of Plenty.
Ardern said her "passion" for regional development came from her upbringing, living in small towns such as Murupara and Morrinsville.
She said 62 per cent of New Zealand's exports were in the primary sector which contributed to $30 billion worth last year.
"Our primary sector is at the heart of New Zealand's economic performance."
Ardern said regions "have had it tough in recent times" which was why the fund would have a "customised and local approach" to work with primary sectors to excel regions.
Ardern had a simple message for members of FOMA - "We (the Government) will stand with you, and we will do what we can to help you succeed."