Selina Kunac is a portfolio support team member with the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan. Photo / Supplied
I was fortunate to holiday at Lake Manapouri in Fiordland this Christmas with my fiancé and his family. It's a stunning part of the world: mirror-like water, towering rock formations, and some of the most tranquil hiking and trout fishing you can find on earth.
We had a fantastic visit, the only downside being the average temperature a cooling 13 degrees. Sorry South Island, Northland's warm weather still takes the Christmas-break cake.
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That cake came with a cherry on top for Northland in 2019 – an historic level of investment made by central government in regional development projects, via the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
In the economic development profession that means 2020 is set to be another busy, exciting year. For the communities we support, it means your backyards might look a little different by next summer.
Did you holiday on the Kaipara Harbour this Christmas? An exploration is well under way to revitalise the harbour, boosting business, tourism, marae/tangata whenua connections, ferry transport and more.
Did you spend your afternoons sliding down sand dunes in the Hokianga? Get ready next summer to experience Manea Footprints of Kupe, an interactive cultural, heritage, tourism and education centre in Opononi. Your sunset strolls could get a whole lot safer, too – in early 2020 the NZ Transport Agency completed a business case that explored the creation of a shared path from Opononi to Omapere.
How about further east? You may have travelled through the new Bay of Islands Airport Terminal or watched the finishing touches being added to Waitangi's new Māori Battalion Museum.
Up north? An unassuming driveway just north of Taipa leads to the site of the Kupe Waka Centre, set to be redeveloped into an impressive visitor and education offering over the next year, celebrating the life and mission of Sir Hekenukumai Busby.
Let's not forget Whangārei, where the Hatea Loop Walk is the home of Hihiaua Cultural Centre, and soon to be completed Hundertwasser Arts Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery, Rolling Ball Clock and Camera Obscura project.
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Feasibility work is also under way to prove viability of a new high-quality hotel and entertainment precinct on Riverside Dr.
We're working hard to make the most of these opportunities presented by the PGF (those listed represent just a handful of many), but equally we're working hard to ensure that Northland's action plan for economic development (the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, or TTNEAP) is long-term, sustainable and puts our communities at the heart of progress.
This will help ensure that no matter the outcome of the election this year, we have a collaborative way forward and are prioritising our resources to the projects that have the biggest community impact.
In other words, we see the cake being shared by many generations to come, on the beach, in the warm Northland sun. Exciting times ahead for 2020, and beyond!
To follow our progress and find out what's happening at your end of the beach this summer, follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TTNEAP
• Selina Kunac, portfolio support, the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan.