With more than $17 million handed over to get things growing, Northland is a big winner in a regional development boost announced today.
After years of neglect, Northland will get a decent share of a nationwide $61.7m package to help get forestry initiatives, tourism and roading projects off the ground, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said.
The region's $17.350m direct development package aimed at untapping Northland's tourism and transport potential comes from that larger amount.
Mr Jones announced in Gisborne today how he had sliced up the $3 billion pie that is the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
Waipapa Intersection upgrade
The Provincial Growth Fund will provide up to $9m to upgrade a busy Northland intersection on State Highway 10.
"We desperately need a roundabout at the intersection of SH10 and Waipapa Rd, and this need has been around for quite some time," Mr Jones says.
"The project will also include a new local exit connecting to the commercial area of Waipapa and additional walking and cycling paths.
Hihiaua Cultural Centre
The Provincial Growth Fund will provide $1m to the Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Northland.
Stage One of the proposal will involve refurbishing the existing boat and carving shed and constructing a waka launching gantry to allow direct access in and out of the Waiarohia River and the Whangarei Harbour.
"The long-term goal of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust is to build a contemporary Māori precinct where people can live, learn, earn and play while rebuilding local cultural capacity and capability," Mr Jones says.
Tōtara Industry Pilot
The Provincial Growth Fund will provide $450,000 towards a two-year pilot to test the validity of establishing an indigenous tōtara wood industry in Northland.
"Tōtara is an underutilised resource within the wood products industry but, despite its economic potential and the abundant supply of it in Northland, the industry has faced a number of barriers preventing its establishment as a market to date," Mr Jones says.
"If this timber was processed into higher value wood products, the potential value increases to up to $60m – that's a further 200 direct jobs and 1750 indirect jobs.
"The $1m pilot – which was first identified in 2015 – has also secured funding from Scion and Northland Inc/Northland District Council.
The project will be led by the Tōtara Industry Steering Group, which includes Scion, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Northland Tōtara Working Group, Tai Tokerau Maori Forests Inc and Northland Inc.
Kawakawa Tourism Hub
The Provincial Growth Fund will provide $2.3m to build a tourism hub in the centre of Kawakawa, creating jobs and boosting economic development opportunities.
"Kawakawa is the gateway to the Bay of Islands and Far North District and has the potential to leverage off well-established tourism offerings in the area like the Twin Coast Cycle Trail and discovery route, and cruise ship market," Mr Jones says.
"However, there is a critical need for improved infrastructure to meet existing visitor needs and expectations in Kawakawa.
"This funding will allow Kawakawa to build a visitor, arts, culture and environment centre to draw people into the centre of the township and will also provide improved infrastructure, including toilets, car parks, tourist information, shared public spaces and a public library.
Northland: Manea Footprints of Kupe
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide up to $4.6m towards a new cultural tourism experience in Opononi, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has announced.
"There is real potential for tourism to help grow our regions and benefit our smaller communities," Mr Davis says.
"We know that Northland has higher than average unemployment and the Manea Footprints of Kupe Cultural Heritage and Education Centre is a great project that will enhance economic development.
"It will create up to 14 full-time jobs and will provide additional tourism opportunities for Northland's west coast."