Water storage is one of the biggest winners in an $18.8 million investment package revealed for the region.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, announced in Hastings today that The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will also invest in infrastructure, employment projects in Napier and Hastings and local primary sector growth.

The $18.8 million package is part of a wider $68.3 million investment package for the province.

Tabuteau said the funding reflects the "variety of challenges Hawke's Bay desperately needed to address to secure future growth

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"While Hawke's Bay previously had a favourable climate, high quality land for growing produce, and an abundance of fresh water, this is no longer the case with longer drier periods and inconsistent rainfall patterns," Tabuteau said.

"Water is therefore a major focus for PGF funding in the region because it is critical for the region's economic prosperity. The PGF will provide funding for pre-feasibility work for the development and construction of much needed small-scale water storage on the Heretaunga Plains."

The PGF will also fund an aquifer mapping project and region-wide fresh water assessment project. This will build on previous work that considers how to futureproof supply.

Hawke's Bay Airport will receive funding to look into introducing new air freight services to export high-value perishable produce such as fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood.

"This supports the strong primary sector growth and will bring greater returns for the rural economy. It also has the potential to generate sustainable jobs in transport, warehousing and service industries across the region."

The Initiate Programme will work with women between the ages of 18 to 24 to help them overcome obstacles to be able to enter sustained employment, education or training.

"I'm pleased the growing and youthful Pasifika population in Hawke's Bay has also been recognised as an opportunity for investment by the PGF, with $320,000 being earmarked for the Tautua Pasifika Youth project."

The projects announced today in Hastings were:

Hastings Eastside Masterplan $600,000
The Initiate Programme $780,434
Tautua Pasifika Youth $320,000
Hawke's Bay Water – Heretaunga Plains $12,900,000
Hawkes Bay Regional Freshwater Assessment $450,000
Hawke's Bay Water aquifer mapping $2,514,000
Napier Port Access Enhancement Project $200,000
Hawke's Bay Airport Airfreight initiative $200,000
Matariki Hawke's Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy $450,000
Te Koru Drug and Alcohol, Education and Employment Initiative $1,100,000