Government ministers rolled into Whanganui yesterday touting economic growth in the region - and with some financial contributions to back it up.

Most notable for Whanganui was a $500,000 investment - in partnership with the Whanganui District Council - to develop a plan to revitalise the port precinct.

The Government also plans to spend $2 million extending the Mountains to Sea cycle trail from Turoa to Ohakune. But another $2 milloon to $3million will need to be raised locally and a national park management plan change will be required for it to go ahead.

The announcement was part of the Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan which was revealed in Whanganui yesterday.


The region's seven mayors, along with Horizons Regional Council and iwi representatives, joined Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell at the launch at the War Memorial Centre.

The action plan has been a year in the making, following the release of the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Growth Study in July last year which identified industries with the potential for growth.

"It's all about increasing job opportunities and the quality of life in our region," Whanganui mayor Annette Main said. "These regional leaders are committed to working together."

The Whanganui port plan will allow for a new marine services centre, an expanded boat building industry and a visitor services and recreational area.

"We have a port that isn't constrained by residential and other commercial development that would be adversely affected by noisy, busy work," Ms Main said.

One of the first steps in the port revitalisation is the relocation of Q-West's boat building premises to Tod Street. Q-West are financially investing in the project which will kick off a marine precinct development which it is hoped could service marine industry training facilities.

Ms Main said the cycle trail extension in Ruapehu would also benefit Whanganui along with other projects identified in the report.

"Some that involve iwi - certainly around their ability to grow from some of the land they have."

Mr Joyce said the Economic Action Plan was a collaboration between business, iwi, community leaders and government.

"There's something like 100 different things we are working on as a result of it," he said.
"What was clear was the amazing range of resources and opportunities ... but the region hadn't been performing to our expectations.

"We said we wanted to do better than this.

"We are focused from a central government perspective on the successful execution of this plan. You have a focus on this region which I believe is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Mr Guy said much of the plan was about increasing the value of agricultural exports.

"There's no way we can double the numbers but we've got an opportunity to double the value."

He also said the manuka industry could be quadrupled.

Mr Flavell said being involved in economic development was important for Maori who made up nearly 20 per cent of the region's population and could lift employment and incomes.

"For Maori the benefits of economic development are reflected in the wellbeing of the people and the land."