Tourism at Northland's Matapouri Beach has been given a major boost with the Government announcing $1,114,000 of funding for restoring the Mauri of Matapouri.
The money comes from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) and was announced at the beach today by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis.
Tourism has grown hugely at Matapouri in recent years with more than 1000 visitors a day recorded last summer.
The influx has also lead to local hapu Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu place a rahui on the internationally renowned Mermaid Pools because of the lack of infrastructure to support the visitors. They also placed the rahui over the access route to the pools over the Rangitapu headland to restore their environmental, cultural and spiritual wellbeing.
The community only has one public toilet block - which is well away from the Mermaid Pools and some of the new funding will go towards constructing another toilet block.
As well there will be carpark improvements, compacting rubbish bins and money towards protecting the beach from erosion. Whangārei District Council will put in another $850,000 towards the projects, with the first ones starting before summer.
The Government funding is from $12 million from round three of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) to help 25 councils around New Zealand make the most out of the opportunities tourism can bring.
Whangārei District Council will also get $539,000 for new carpark and toilets to increase capacity and bus parking at Abbey Caves.
Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu representative Aperahama Kerepeti-Edwards said the hapu had been waiting a long time for such support to help deal with the tourism boom the tiny coastal settlement has experienced.
'"We are pleased to have such a great thing occur for our hapu and to see the Government and council support us. This means we are able to ensure that there will be adequate infrastructure in place to reduce the negative impacts it has been having here,'' he said.
Kerepeti-Edwards said the hapu welcomed tourists to the area, but it was vital that they had the infrastructure in place to cope.
"Tourism is a vital part of New Zealand's future success and our Government wants to ensure that tourism supports thriving and sustainable regions," Davis said.
"This project sums up what the TIF is about. Matapouri Beach sees 1,000 people every day during summer, but is facing real challenges from increasing visitor numbers and lack of infrastructure. The funding will see necessary facilities installed and make sure visitors have the top class experience they expect of one of the best beaches in the world.
"This project is a truly collaborative effort between Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu Hapū Trust and the Council. I'd like to thank them both for working in partnership to protect and enhance this remarkable taonga."
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the council and community were pleased that the Government had heard the concerns over tourism at Matapouri and help fund the vital infrastructure that was needed there.
• The full list of TIF funding recipients can be found on the MBIE website.