Whangārei's $26 million Government Covid-19 economic recovery funding will provide a huge boost for the district according to mayor Sheryl Mai.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced details of the multi-million investment at Whangārei District Council yesterday.

"Some of the projects funded have been on the books for a very long time. This will give them impetus to get going," Mai said.

More than 200 jobs are expected to be created locally through the investment from the Government's rejuvenation package, which is aimed at helping districts recover from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whangārei District Council (WDC) got $16m towards transport. This was about two-thirds of the announced spending.

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Mai said one of the key projects the council funding will be used for is fixing a major traffic bottleneck at Whangārei's Kioreroa and Port Rds intersection. A roundabout will be built at the intersection and the adjacent Limeburners Creek bridge four-laned and include a cycleway.

She said this fix would make access easier for those working in the surrounding industrial area. It would also support of the predicted future growth with the Port Nikau housing development and the potential Royal New Zealand Navy move north.

Whangārei's cycling network will also be boosted, Mai said.

Work would be done on Raumanga and Tikipunga cycleways. Connections joining surrounding streets into the Kamo shared pathway would be built. Work would also be done towards connecting the shared pathway with the Hatea loop.

The Hihiaua cultural centre got $3m towards its further development.

Ryan Welsh, Hihiaua Community Trust chairman, said the funding was valuable for the first stages of building a new performance area for the centre. This centre aims to showcase Tai Tokerau Māori arts, culture and heritage.

A 3ha bike park on Pohe Island also moved a step closer with $2m towards developing the facility. Claire Davies-Colley, Bike Northland chairwoman, said the funding was valuable towards building a locally and regionally significant facility.

A $9m new building for the Ruakākā Recreation Centre got $2.5m. The building will be used for indoor sports including basketball and football. Locals from toddlers to 83-year-olds already use the centre's bulging community gym and other facilities. Demand from Bream Bay's surrounding fast-growing population is increasing.

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Christine Thirling, Ruakākā recreation centre manager at the announcement yesterday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Christine Thirling, Ruakākā recreation centre manager at the announcement yesterday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Christine Thirling, centre manager, said the gym was particularly popular with older people who were in better health than previous generations and increasingly wanting to keep fit.

Cameron Bell, Northland Rugby Union chief executive, said the $1.5m received was the final funding needed to be able to start work on a new $6.5m central base for the union on Pohe Island. The four-building development included unisex changing rooms built to international standards required for the Rugby World Cup in 2021. There would also be a state-of-the-art gym and clubrooms where Old Boys Marist Rugby Club would be based.

Whangārei Boys' High School also got $1m towards building its engineering academy enabling industry-focused training on site for students through Tai Tokerau.

Jones said this school shovel-ready project would produce students who were also shovel-ready. He said WDC had played a big part in getting the funding package into the district.


Winners
$16m for Whangārei District Council's mixed transport construction programme.
$3m for the Hihiaua Cultural Centre towards construction costs.
$1m for Whangārei Boys' High School Engineering Academy
$1.5m for the Northland Rugby Union to complete building its clubrooms on Pohe Island.
$2m towards the development of a bike park at William Fraser Memorial Park on Pohe Island
$2.5m towards construction of a recreation facility at Ruakākā