The man who warned provincial New Zealand needed an economic change of tack has been enlisted to help the Horizons region double the value of its exports.

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub will be working on the Regional Growth Study, which was announced by the Government in July.

The joint venture between Horizons Regional Council, the seven district councils in its area, and the Government aims to find ways to double Whanganui-Manawatu's agri-business exports to $3.8 billion by 2025.

The Government has awarded the study work to Hutchings Henley and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, for which Mr Eaqub works.


The study will run alongside the Central New Zealand Agribusiness Strategy which will find ways to achieve economic growth based on the findings of the study.

The growth study will be funded by the Government but the implementation strategy will be paid for by ratepayers. Horizons will likely commit $50,000 to it, while other councils' funding would be on a per capita basis.

At yesterday's Horizons Regional Council meeting in Wanganui, Councillor Murray Guy asked where the money would be coming from and why it hadn't been approved at a council meeting.

Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney said the money was there and had become available through other savings.

Mr Guy said it would be prudent to bring it before the council to be signed off and asked for an amendment to the resolution to do so. It was voted in favour of.

There was discussion about exactly what the study would look at too. Gordon McKellar said high speed broadband was a major requirement for rural areas and he wanted that looked at.

Horizons will formally vote on whether to commit $50,000 to the strategy at its November meeting.