The Government is pumping more than $150 million into the Tairāwhiti region on the East coast of the North island through the Provincial Growth Fund, its biggest funding commitment by far.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones were in Gisborne today to announce the $152.7m funding which will go towards developing jobs, transport, infrastructure and businesses.
"Tairāwhiti offers a unique quality of life combined with genuine business and economic opportunities. However, it faces significant infrastructure challenges, high unemployment and lower productivity," Ardern said.
"The projects funded through today's announcement reflect the priorities of the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan which emphasise the need to connect people and markets and support businesses to thrive.
A total of $151.7m over five years from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and the National Land Transport Fund will go to road infrastructure.
"The road network in Tairāwhiti has suffered from historical under-investment and recurring extreme weather events," Jones said.
"The locals have repeatedly told me they need an efficient and reliable road network that better connects the community, helps them get goods from farm gates and forests to the local and global market, and supports tourism."
A connection between the Cook landing site at Kaiti beach and Titirangi Reserve - the Puhi Kai Iti Connection – will receive up to $6.1m.
That will fund the Mt Titirangi summit upgrade, which includes a visitor facility and carpark redevelopment.
"The Titirangi – Puhi Kai Iti Connection project will recognise important tūpuna, such as Te Maro of Ngāti Oneone, who made a significant contribution to their people and are important to the Tairāwhiti region and to the greater story of Aotearoa New Zealand," Jones said.
"It is the pinnacle of three Tairāwhiti Navigation Programmes supported by the PGF, which together have the potential to contribute around 44 jobs to the region.
The Mt Titirangi – Puhi Kai Iti Connection is expected to be delivered in time for the 250-year commemoration events in October 2019.
Gisborne's airport will receive $5.5m as a loan for redevelopment.
The $12.5m total redevelopment will be co-funded by the Eastland Group and the Eastland Community Trust.
"Tairāwhiti is the world's easternmost city and is relatively isolated from other population hubs. This means that efficient air travel is vital to the local economy," Jones said.
"Reliable air connections provide businesses with opportunities to expand and grow, as well as bring more visitors to the regions, providing opportunities for businesses based in Tairāwhiti to grow their offerings locally."
Forestry, a big industry on the east coast, is also set to benefit.
The Far East Saw Mill in Tairāwhiti will get $500,000 to increase wood-processing capacity, and $300,000 will go to a forestry training course pilot to address the growing forestry skills shortage.
The full cost of the pilot is $840,000, with additional funding coming from the Eastland Community Trust, the Forest Growers Levy Trust and the Eastern Institute of Technology.
"Forestry is a key sector in Tairāwhiti, but there simply aren't enough skilled workers in the region to do the work," Jones said.
"The ManaiaSAFE Forestry School pilot course funded through today's announcement will reduce the current skills shortage by preparing individuals with the right skills needed to be successful and make forestry their career of choice."