Northland projects are getting more than $21 million from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Economic Development Minister David Parker were in the region this morning announcing the funding.

The PGF will invest up to $18.5 million in water storage to unlock land use potential in the Mid North; $3.2 million to rebuild the Opononi seawall and a yet-to-be determined amount for New Zealand's first three Regional Digital Hubs.

The $3.2m project to rebuild the Opononi seawall and improve the resilience of State
Highway 12 in Northland will be welcomed by locals, Jones said.

Advertisement

He was in Opononi this morning with Peters for a dawn blessing of the work site given by kaumatua from Te Pouka and Ngati Wharara.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, kaumatua John Klaracich and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters at the dawn blessing of the project to rebuild the Opononi seawall.
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, kaumatua John Klaracich and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters at the dawn blessing of the project to rebuild the Opononi seawall.

"Intervention is required now as shoreline erosion is affecting areas of the highway, and existing protection measures are no longer fit for purpose. This is an important route for the local community because it's the only coastal road connection between businesses and schools in the towns of Opononi and Omapere," Jones said.

"Rock revetment works on the Opononi shoreline will present a more uniform and consistent foreshore, to help minimise the effects of scouring and erosion. With winter closing in, and considering the severe weather events Northland experienced last year, it's the right time to get this work underway."

The PGF will invest up to $18.5 million in water storage to unlock land use potential in the Mid North with Jones saying the money will be invested to help investigate and, if feasible, construct community-scale water storage and use options in Kaipara and Mid North.

"This project is the largest PGF investment to date in water storage. Regional Economic Development Ministers backed the proposal because of the real opportunities that ensuring a more reliable water supply could bring to the region – up to $150m in increased horticulture earnings per year and up to 1150 jobs created,'' he said.

"The region is vulnerable to droughts and floods, so better access to water will give landowners greater options to utilise their land, develop new markets and maintain and grow a skilled workforce. This project is relatively small in scale, compared to proposed water projects in the past, and enjoys wide support from local government. It will alleviate pressure on surface and groundwater resources, and will reduce sedimentation, a key water quality issue for the region, as land use shifts towards horticulture.

"It will also mean better access to water for use on Māori-owned land – the development of which is a key objective for the PGF."

Parker said the aspirations of Māori, who did not want to be locked out of access to water for use on undeveloped land, needed to be dealt with.

Advertisement

"This is an example of that. The Government is trying to solve this for all New Zealanders." Parker said.

The funding will be used first for initial feasibility work, then any potential construction phase, with stop or go points at each stage to allow a re-evaluation.

Northland Regional Council will receive the funding and will work with other councils in the region, iwi and the community to undertake the necessary work required to support the project's construction.

Northland is also getting New Zealand's first three Regional Digital Hubs (RDHs) to enable people to connect for business and accelerate economic development in the region.

"The Regional Digital Hubs will be a game changer for the region once they are set up and running by the end of this year. There will be three hubs in three locations in the region with the first hub to open in Kaitaia. The other two hubs are likely to be in Dargaville and Kaikohe," Jones said.

"The hubs will allow people to connect for business development and support, and offer services such as free WiFi connectivity, co-working spaces and guidance on use of the internet for business and skills development purposes.

Advertisement

"Additionally Northland is growing its digital footprint with two marae recently going live as part of the PGF marae connectivity package. Oromahoe marae and Te Houhanga marae in Northland are the first in the country to be connected under the package.

"In North Hokianga we're funding work to progress marae connectivity at Ngāi Tupoto, Ngāti Manawa and Te Uri o Hina marae. Another 11 marae in Northland are also looking to get connected. Connecting marae will help communities seize business and education opportunities, as well as help whānau stay in touch and Māori to connect with their iwi.

"Funding for these initiatives comes from the PGF local digital connectivity funding package of $21 million which helps connect marae to the internet and establish Regional Digital Hubs in regional towns to enable local businesses to access digital services to get online.

"Improving digital connectivity was flagged as a key area of investment for the PGF as it is a catalyst for economic development and wellbeing, lifts productivity and supports the other investments Government is making in the regions through the Provincial Growth Fund.''