An industrial park near Kaikohe which is expected to create 250 jobs and 50 training roles in its first phase has been granted $19.5 million from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.
The announcement was made by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in front of a crowd of about 200 people at Kaikohe Memorial Hall yesterday.
Ngāwhā Innovation and Enterprise Park will be built on land bought two years ago by Far North District Council-owned company Far North Holdings and now used for dairying.
The 204ha farm is on the northern side of State Highway 12 near a geothermal power station being built by Top Energy. Cheap electricity is expected to be one of the big drawcards for future tenants.
The PGF cash will be used for earthworks and infrastructure such as roading, water and power.
Jones said once stage one was up and running around 250 jobs and 50 trainee roles would be created. That was expected to grow to 500 jobs as further development took place.
Construction could start this year and create 150 short-term jobs.
Potential park tenants include food manufacturing, bioenergy and horticulture businesses and trades training for the production of pre-fabricated social housing.
The park, which had the backing of local iwi Ngāti Rangi, could be a game-changer for the Kaikohe area, which had high rates of deprivation and had long struggled to attract investment, Jones said.
Far North Holdings chef executive Andy Nock paid tribute to the council and community for ''taking control of their own destiny'' by agreeing to buy land for the park at a time when no one else was investing in the region.
Northland trailed far behind other parts of the country when it came to adding value to exports and the park would be a step towards fixing that.
The company's aim was to create a New Zealand-first closed-loop system, whereby park tenants used each other's waste products in their production processes.
The park would also have a strong emphasis on research and training, Nock said.
The kinds of industry being targeted included glasshouse horticulture, carbon products, timber drying, social housing construction, honey, native leaf teas and mānuka oil.
Former Māori Affairs Minister and Labour MP Dover Samuels, who now leads the Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust with former National MP Murray McCully, said he'd been waiting many years for Northland to get a chance to move ahead.
''We were taken for granted for many years — all of us, Māori and Pākehā — but we're not going back now,'' he said.
In 2019 the PGF granted Far North Holdings just under $900,000 to develop a business case for the park.
Last month the PGF also granted $6m to build a water storage dam on the same block of land.
During his speech Jones acknowledged Northland MP Matt King and his party's role in getting fast-track legislation for filling the dam through Parliament after it was opposed by the Green Party.
While in Kaikohe yesterday Jones also visited the town's fire station to announce just under $3m from the PGF to upgrade fire brigade facilities at nearby Ōkaihau and to build a new station for the Cavalli Fire Brigade at Matauri Bay.
Ōkaihau will receive $700,000 and Cavalli $2.16m.