The Government has allocated up to $100 million from its Provincial Growth Fund to support Māori economic development by providing access to capital.

It has also earmarked a further $27m to strengthen transport infrastructure and the horticulture sector in Kaipara.

Making the announcement just days before Waitangi Day at the Otamatea Marae in Kaipara, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the $100m would help build prosperity for Māori and help unlock the economic potential of Māori in the regions.

The sum of money is significant, and constitutes 10 per cent of the fund's $1 billion-a-year allocation.


In a statement today, Ardern said access to capital was a challenge for Māori landowners as the special status of their land meant commercial banks had been less willing to lend them money.

Today's funding announcement would enable Māori to access the capital required to progress projects which were ready for investment and would support moves towards higher-value land use, she said.

"An integral part of any inclusive and successful regional economic development strategy lies with supporting Māori landowners to create new opportunities that will lift incomes and the wellbeing of the regions," Ardern said.

She cited research from 2013 which revealed about 80 per cent of Māori freehold land was underutilised or underproductive.

"Modelling of the impact of bringing this land into primary sector production and increasing its productivity showed significant economic benefits, including jobs."

Ardern said Māori had a large and growing asset base across regional New Zealand based on traditional land holdings and treaty settlements.

Regional Economic Development Minister, and the man in charge of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Shane Jones, said the biggest barrier to Māori land development had been access to capital.

He said today's PGF funding would help overcome that barrier and ensure there was end-to-end support for Māori landowners.


This would come in the form of capability building, feasibility work and the completion of capital projects.

"For long-term, sustainable and inclusive regional economic growth, we need to ensure Māori landowners are well supported to develop their assets and I'm pleased the PGF is well placed to kick-start this work," Jones said.

Ardern said the $27m in funding for Kaipara would help bolster transport infrastructure in Northland where she said their had been a "long history of underinvestment".

Just under $20m from the PGF was allocated to upgrade transport links in Kaipara, and almost $7m from the National Land Transport Fund would go towards infrastructure projects, too.

Jones, who ran in the Whangārei electorate in 2017, said the projects would enable greater land utilisation and create more resilient communities.

He added that Northland faced significant economic and social challenges. Its unemployment rate, for example, is 5.6 per cent - the national average is 3.9 per cent.

"Investments like those announced today demonstrate our commitment to tackles these challenges and turn around the economic fortunes of the North and its people."

National transport spokesman Paul Goldsmith said the funding was "part and parcel of the politicisation of the [PGF] fund from Shane Jones with a bias to particular regions".

He called on the Government to build a four-lane highway from Wellsford to Whangārei.