National Party leader Judith Collins says Northland has huge potential and the party will help to unlock it after years of lack of investment if it forms the next Government.
Collins was in Northland this week to announce the party's water storage policy - $600 million over three years for water infrastructure projects - and plans for a $300m dry dock at Northport. She visited Kerikeri and Whangārei with National's Whangārei MP and health spokesman Dr Shane Reti and Northland MP Matt King.
She said Northland would be getting attention from a National Government she led, with the region having huge potential for growth. But what it needed was more infrastructure after years of lack of major investment in that area.
Collins said the dry dock - which will be built with the help of private investment - could be the catalyst for more activity in and around Northport.
The dry dock is needed as the one at Devonport Naval Base is too small for modern ships, and there was a possibility of the navy moving to Whangārei in the future too, though that was a much harder job.
However, Collins said, that was not just about moving navy ships, but staff and their families too.
''Let's get the dry dock in first. We will need to do that [move the navy] and at some stage that will be considered.''
Regarding moving Ports of Auckland operations to Northport, Collins said far more work would need to be done before that was considered.
What the region needed first was more major infrastructure and she said National would build a four-lane highway between Whangārei and Auckland that would eventually include a tunnel under the Brynderwyns.
Also getting the rail lines started to the port was essential.
''With all that infrastructure in place then you've got something to work with. You can't just put all those [imported] cars on that road [SH1 south of Whangārei] before you get all that infrastructure in place.''
Collins said Dr Reti and King had been promoting Northland, and its potential, well in the National Party caucus and it would get suitable attention to meet that potential from a National-led Government.
She said along with Northport and the potential of Marsden Pt, Northland's sunshine made it an ideal region for more horticulture expansion, but to enable that more water storage was needed.
A shadow over the region, though, was the possibility of the Marsden Pt oil refinery closing as it was cheaper to import refined fuel from overseas.
Collins said she would look at mothballing the oil refinery in case it was needed in the future.
She acknowledged that Northland, like most regions, had a major housing shortage.
So how do you fix that?
''Easy. Build more houses. To do that you get rid of the RMA [Resource Management Act].''
She said this would mean the consent process for new homes would not get bogged down in RMA bureaucracy and houses would get built.
Collins said if Dr Reti was Health Minister, he would ensure Northland District Health Board (of which he was once a board member) was not amalgamated with Auckland, or elsewhere. Labour's plan was to reduce the number of DHBs to between eight to 12.