Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced close to $5 million in Government funding to upgrade wharves in the Bay of Islands today.

The money would come from the Provincial Growth Fund, and be used to upgrade wharves at Russell and Paihia and a pontoon at Opua.

The Regional Economic Development Minister earlier announced $1.7m in funding for an upgrade to the Bay of Islands Airport in Kerikeri.

The announcement would be subject to Far North Holdings Ltd - the commercial arm of the Far North District Council - developing a business case and ensuring due diligence is met.


The Government would work alongside Far North Holdings in developing business cases, Jones said.

"Tourism is an important and developing sector in Northland but some existing facilities are ageing and unsuitable, inhibiting future growth."

"These projects are also about training local people and giving them the skills they need to help build the future of Northland. The tender process for these upgrades will require firms to take on apprentices who can then enjoy careers in the construction industry going forward.

"These three projects, which are long overdue, will boost the productivity potential of Northland, help grow the tourism sector, diversify the local economy, create new jobs and help build more resilient communities.

"Far North Holdings Ltd has numerous proposals on its books and I'm pleased the Government has been able to work closely with the council to deliver for Northland.

Paihia Wharf would receive the lion's share of the $5m for its upgrade - $2.97m - which would include building another four berths for ships and improving passenger facilities.

"Paihia Wharf is a major gateway and maritime hub in the Bay of Islands and is considered a critical piece of infrastructure in the Far North, with tourist cruises, charters, and the passenger ferry to Russell operating from the wharf," Jones said.

"The facility is currently struggling to handle the number of visitors and tourism operators, which is hampering future growth and many components of the wharf are nearing the end of their life."

Just $890,000 of the total would be used for building a pontoon at Opua, and Russell Wharf was allocated $1.114m for upgrades.

"Russell Wharf is Russell's primary connection to the rest of New Zealand and is therefore a vital piece of community and tourism infrastructure," Jones said.

"The upgrade will replace the original timber piles and others with floating concrete pontoons while a wharf extension will create more visitor space for an increasing number of users and help to build capacity for the future.

"Officials will continue to work closely with Far North Holdings Ltd as further businesses cases are developed and these important projects progress."