Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced more ''putea'' for Northland with a $4.8 million loan for boat repair and refit company Oceania Marine.

The Government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) money will buy the company a 560-tonne capability travel lift to hoist super yachts and other big boats out of the water.

The extra job capacity the travel lift would bring Oceania Marine could see the company employing 50 extra staff just for one new project.

As well as the promise of extra jobs, the company intends taking on 13 apprentices in a variety of fields over time.

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At the company's Port Whangarei slipway yesterday, Jones said that although the Government had committed to putting up the money, or putea, ''suitable financial terms and other details were yet to be worked out''.

Jones said the spin-offs for other businesses and the community made the project an ideal candidate for the regional growth fund.

"Fifty new jobs and 13 new apprenticeships are expected to be generated over the coming years as the new travel lift will increase Oceania Marine Group's revenue. It will also, in turn, create about 50 new jobs for support industries.

"An economic impact study commissioned by Northland Inc and NZTE showed the project would have a significant positive impact on both the Whangarei district and the New Zealand economy – exactly the sort of project we believe the PGF should be backing.''

Whangarei MP (National Party) Shane Reti, left, and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones (NZ First) singing from the same song sheet at the Oceania Marine announcement.
Whangarei MP (National Party) Shane Reti, left, and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones (NZ First) singing from the same song sheet at the Oceania Marine announcement.

The 560-tonne travel lift will be the only one of its kind in New Zealand specialising in large keel craft and should be operational in a year's time. That is, after the 34 containers holding the lift's pieces arrive in Whangarei and the gigantic Mechano set is assembled.

Oceania Marine had turned away several projects recently because it did not have that lift capability and the conventional slipway was not suitable for the types of boats involved, chief executive Martin Gleeson said.

The new boat lift will be able to lift boats up 560-tonnes, compared to this 100-tonne lift which is currently Oceania Marine's biggest one.
The new boat lift will be able to lift boats up 560-tonnes, compared to this 100-tonne lift which is currently Oceania Marine's biggest one.

The big new yachts had to be lifted from the water then cradled because their keels could not sit on the ground.

The new lift would enable the company to take on work that could be done nowhere else in New Zealand, Gleeson said.

Northland Inc chief executive David Wilson described the ''soft loan'' as an example of the good intervention principles behind the PGF.

''It's come at the right time and is the right catalyst and the right infrastructure for the industry.''

Asked why the company did not get a bank loan, Oceania marketing manager Jim Loynes said the PGF loan gave the company security after two years of trying to get the case over the line with other funders.

''The banks don't see residual value in infrastructure.''

Loynes said there were up to 6500 super and uber yachts in the world, and at least 50 in or near New Zealand waters each year - a huge potential market the company could now cater to.

The company was already been pitching its new capability to people bringing boats to NZ for the America's Cup.

Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti said that without the travel lift Oceania and associated industries had been at risk of losing much of their business overseas.

Instead, it would now contribute even more to the industry that already provided 10 per cent of Whangarei's GDP, Reti said.