Prime Minister John Key has announced $3 million more funding for a cycleway in Northland on his first visit to the region since National lost the Northland byelection, saying it demonstrated National's commitment to the region.
Mr Key made the pre-Budget Twin Coast Cycleway Trail announcement at Opua before going on to speak at the National Party's northern regional conference in Waitangi. He told the party faithful that although National had lost the Northland byelection, it would fight to win it back in 2017.
"As the media were helpful enough to point out at the time, the result in Northland was a loss. And a bad one too."
He said National was working to learn from that.
"On my first visit back to Northland since the byelection, this is my message to the voters in this electorate. As a government and as a party we are going to actively work to regain your trust and confidence and we intend to win the seat back in 2017."
He said the trail from the Bay of Islands to the Hokianga had the potential to help "rejuvenate" small Northland towns such as Kaikohe, Kawakawa, Okaihau and Horeke in a similar way to the towns along the Otago Rail Trail. The cycleways were popular with tourists, benefited regional economies and had do far provided more than 1200 jobs.
The $3 million towards the Twin Coast Cycleway Trail brings the Government's contribution to $7 million. Far North Mayor John Carter was at the announcement - the Far North District Council must now raise the $1.8 million needed to complete the cycleway.
The Government has so far put in $55 million towards the construction of the cycle trails nationwide since the project began in 2009. The Twin Coast Cycleway was one of 23 "Great Rides", of which 18 were finished.
The cycleways were part of a former memorandum of understanding between the Green Party and National and the two still work on them together although they no longer have a formal agreement.
Dr Norman noted National had spent more on its joint projects with the Green Party than with any of its three formal support partners - the Maori Party, Act and United Future. "And exceptionally good investments they have been too."
it was also pleasing that National had committed to spend $100 million on urban cycleways during the election. "We would have loved it to be a bit more, well four times more to be precise, but we are more than happy to work with you on the rollout of that project."
The Green Party is currently holding a leadership contest to replace Dr Norman as male co-leader after his decision to step aside from the role. Of the four contestants - Kevin Hague, Vernon Tava, Gareth Hughes and James Shaw, only Mr Tava has so far refused to rule out working with National on a more formal basis such as confidence and supply.
Other initiatives in the Green Party's memorandum of understanding include the clean up of the Tui mine site, home insulation, and trials of pest trapping on Conservation land.