Deputy PM Winston Peters took aim at Aucklanders "not wanting the Coromandel to change" as he announced $19.95 million for a Sugarloaf Wharf expansion to boost aquaculture.
Peters received applause at the Thames-Coromandel District Council chambers on Tuesday, announcing Provincial Growth Funding for a wharf extension that was 20 years in the making.
The wharf will accommodate rising sea levels, have four new berths and help the mussel industry reach its targeted 42,000 tonne of production, up from 25,000 in production currently constrained by existing infrastructure.
The aquaculture industry is described by the council as the backbone of its economy, contributing $70 million to its GDP and 350 jobs.
"This investment will provide a vital boost to businesses, skilled employment, and the wider aquaculture sector in the North Island - and is timely now more than ever to support our primary food producers and the construction sector," said Mayor Sandra Goudie.
Speaking to a room filled with local politicians, aquaculture industry representatives and Hauraki iwi leaders, Peters urged them to "stand up to prying eyes of Auckland" that wanted the Coromandel to remain unchanged.
He said the mussel industry was not only focused on food production but medicinal and cosmetic products such as face-creams which added value.
The wharf would also be an investment into another Coromandel marine growth industry - seaweed.
"These are jobs that will stay in the area ... a modern facility that was for far too long outstanding.
"Here's the real plan, when it's go forward there will be 880 extra jobs over 35 years starting very soon. We're very pleased to see the investment will be of great benefit to Coromandel iwi."
Iwi own 40 per cent of consented water space in the Hauraki Gulf and 90 per cent of the North Island's Green Shell mussels are loaded over Sugarloaf Wharf each year.
"We've got to stand up to our rights and the prying eyes of Auckland coming down trying to stop things happening because they want the Coromandel to stay the same.
"With the greatest respect, that's not the European way and it ain't the Maori way. People live here, they've got the right and the legacy to look after it, not some outsiders."
He said it was the local population that needed to be listened to: "Not some mobile group in Auckland that will come here once in a blue moon ... you have got to stand up for yourselves."
He added: "The development of the Coromandel is exciting to see, a lot is changing here, it's truly a project that's good news, that will benefit the local aquaculture industry, recreational boaties, local iwi and create jobs and contribute to helping your region and the country."
While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern toured kiwifruit packhouses in Te Puke, Peters had earlier in the day toured the Paeroa Historical Maritime Museum.
He spent time admiring an old wooden boat and giving banter to lighthearted requests for funding allowing more to be done at the tourist attraction.
Peters has a boat that he has wanted to restore for decades and said he would often driven past the maritime park on his way to Auckland, always wanting to stop.