Infrastructure Minister Shame Jones was in Kaitaia yesterday, to announce government funding of more than $14 million, including $10.8 million for 'shovel-ready projects.'
"This investment recognises the Far North needs revitalising, as Te Hiku o Te Ika has a history rich in culture and heritage but is one of the poorest regions in the country," Jones said.
The funding covered a number of initiatives, including $7 million for the Far North District Council to build a cycle trail and shared path linking Ahipara, Kaitaia and Awanui to Te Oneroa a Tohe (90 Mile Beach) and Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga), with each of the iwi providing a unique artwork standing up to eight metres all at the entrances of their towns. The council is leading the project, with support from the Kaitaia Business Association, the Northland Regional Council and Te Hiku iwi.
"This is a really exciting project that will link and bring together these towns and iconic sites, and encourage visitors to explore this amazing part of the country," Jones said.
"The culture of Te Hiku, combined with the stunning scenery and usually temperate climate, is something all New Zealanders need to experience. This investment will result in vibrant spaces and community pride, not to mention stimulating the regional economy, providing jobs and setting it up for the future."
Construction is expected to take 18 months and create up to 80 jobs. Local businesses would be used where possible to supply the materials required, and there would be employment opportunities for local iwi and apprentice artists and carvers.
Affordable housing was also addressed, with Kaitaia-based social services provider Hē Korowai to receive $1.8 million to develop sites for 24 houses that will be relocated from Auckland.
"Affordable housing is in short supply and extremely high demand in this region. This project aims to provide warm, dry, quality housing at a price that reflects the incomes of the people who live here.," Jones said, adding that the project would provide 26 civil works jobs and work for 10 trades students, six tradespeople and five support staff who will refit the houses.
The Minister also announced the refurbishment of two important wharves in the region. Far North Holdings would receive $1 million towards the cost of upgrading the country's northernmost public wharf, at Pukenui, which Jones described as a community hub with a long history of recreational and commercial activity, creating about 20 jobs across professional and maritime services and construction.
Another $1 million had been allocated for the upgrading of Awanui's Unahi wharf as a multi-purpose facility for recreational and commercial vessels.
Built in 1926 as part of Awanui's development as a transport hub, allowing large vessels to serve the town and surrounding area, the wharf currently services about 12 inshore fishing boats, but there are plans to replace the existing structure to accommodate heavier craft and build a new pontoon and gangway at the end of the boat ramp to accommodate recreational boaties.
That project was expected to create about 16 jobs.
Meanwhile Jones also announced separate funding of more than $2 million for Far North projects from the government's worker redeployment package to help workers displaced by Covid-19 into jobs, including $986,710 for the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board to fence waterways and riparian planting. Tapuwae Inc, which owns 1600ha of Māori freehold land, will receive $1.1 million to fence stock out of its waterways, providing up to 27 jobs.
"These projects will provide much-needed economic stimulus and jobs for the Far North, which is one of the most deprived areas in New Zealand," he said.
"I am also delighted that, as Forestry Minister, I am able to announce One Billion Trees funding of $381,550 for three projects in the Far North.
"Tane's Tree Trust will receive $44,304 to re-measure sample plots of Northland's beloved tōtara for growth rates, responses to silviculture management and improvements in biodiversity values, Hokianga Harbour Care will receive $266, 906 to continue working to improve the freshwater ecosystems of the catchment flowing into the Hokianga Harbour, and Tapuwae Inc will get $70,340 for its seed collection project, which involves a stocktake of native flora on its land, working out how best to protect and propagate any endangered species and which to collect seeds from to grow seedlings for its nursery."
There was also $922,000 from the National Land Transport Fund for a new roundabout at the intersection of Matthews' Ave and North Rd (SH1) State Highway 1 in Kaitaia.
"With the relocation of a number of major retail stores north of the intersection, traffic volumes have increased considerably," he said.
"This funding will go towards the construction of the roundabout, footpath realignment and crossing, traffic islands, better lighting and signage to reduce traffic queuing at the giveway and to make the intersection safer.
"Today's announcements will make a world of difference in the areas being funded, and I am proud that this government has been able to deliver on its word to help reduce poverty and increase economic activity and job opportunities for Northlanders," he concluded.