"We don't just govern. We lead."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used these words to launch 2019, our year of delivery.

With that, this Coalition Government has rapidly gotten on with the job of investing in the aspirations of Māori, increasing support for the Manawatū to thrive, and walking the talk behind our plan to ensure our economy is growing and working for all of us.

I am proud that Manawatū-Whanganui will benefit from a five-region-focused $60 million investment in local skills and employment programmes, all thanks to this Government's new Te Ara Mahi (Pathways to Work) initiative.


Just because unemployment is currently at its lowest in a decade, doesn't mean we're going to stop investing in the people of Palmerston North, or in changing the story for rangatahi in our regions.

Especially for young Māori, who sadly remain at the sharp end of statistics for those not currently in employment, education or training.

Te Ara Mahi will back local employers to access staff when needed, and support locals of all ages to learn the skills needed for local jobs.

Together, we can turn the tide on youth unemployment and empower more rangatahi to find meaningful work.

This mahi, and the task of bridging our region's digital divide, will get a helping hand from this Government's recent additional investment in creating Regional Digital Hubs and reliably connecting our marae - as cornerstones of our community - to the internet.

By also providing technical support and training, this plan will improve access for iwi and deliver an alternative way for young Māori to learn the skills needed by future employers.

For details, email maraeconnectivity@mbie.govt.nz

Through the Provincial Growth Fund, we are also taking the first practical steps towards supporting whānau to fully realise the potential of their land, by creating a $100 million Whenua Māori fund.

We can't keep missing out on opportunities to enhance our future, because the status of Māori Land gives pause to traditional lenders.

This fund will help create local jobs and place more control over the growth of our economy and wages, back into our own hands.

Māori Landowners can apply now at growregions.govt.nz/get-funding

Take care of each other whānau.