An 18ha blueberry orchard will be developed near Te Teko, following a central government investment announced today.
The Meihana Koata Trust will use a $2.1 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund to develop the orchard on Māori land in partnership with Miro, a collective of 29 Māori iwi, hapū and whānau.
It is expected to create 157 local jobs.
In February, the Government also announced a separate $2.125m Whenua Māori loan for the trust.
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Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters announced the funding today."We want to minimise any disproportionate economic impacts of Covid-19 in our regions and it is important we support Māori-owned and led initiatives that have the ability to boost economic wellbeing for tangata whenua," Peters said in a press release this afternoon.
Bay of Plenty-based Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, said the announcement would allow the Meihana Koata Trust and Miro to "create employment opportunities quickly, and support further development and construction at the blueberry farm".
"This project represents a sustainable, modern approach to developing Māori land. It provides opportunities for its staff to be trained in high-tech horticultural practices while creating value for New Zealand's primary sector.
"The trust and Miro have already developed 9ha of the orchard and are preparing for the first harvest later this year.
"The Provincial Growth Fund is supporting these landowners to unlock the economic potential of their whenua, producing greater returns for the trust's beneficiaries, and creating an estimated 157 local jobs."
The funding was the second announced by Peters today following an earlier-announced $2.5m boost to help "speed up" three Whakatāne river projects.