Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is backing Whanganui's port and Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment but is less convinced about the velodrome roof project.
Ardern was in Whanganui on Tuesday, with the first stop of her visit being the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment site at Queen's Park.
Last month the Government announced another $12 million investment in the Sarjeant through the Provincial Growth Fund, bringing total Government funding to $24 million.
Ardern was joined at the Sarjeant by Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall, who spoke about the history of Queen's Park and thanked the Prime Minister for the government's investments in Whanganui.
Projects like the Sarjeant redevelopment were "a piece of social investment", Ardern said.
"The word shovel-ready underestimates or underplays just what comes in investing in infrastructure, and when it come to places like the Sarjeant it's as much about our wellbeing and being proud of the places we live in as it is about jobs.
"That's reflected by the huge amount of work that's come from the community to make this project happen.
"I hope this community reaps the reward of this investment for years to come."
Following a tour of the Sarjeant site and a look at what has been found so far by archaeologist Michael Taylor during digging, Ardern headed on foot down the Veterans Steps to Majestic Square, then visited several Whanganui businesses on her way to Whanganui Labour candidate Steph Lewis's pop-up campaign office on Victoria Ave.
The Prime Minister's final appearance was at Quality Safe International (QSi) in Pacific Pl, where she was given a tour of the factory and shown the process of face mask production by general manager Paula Goudie.
Ardern told the Chronicle that, as Minister for Arts, Heritage, and Culture, she looked at projects like the Sarjeant "through more than one lens".
"Yes, the project will generate and support up to 300 jobs when it's at its peak, and those are jobs that the contractors are looking to source locally.
"We want to leave something behind as well. The Sarjeant Gallery is already a special part of the community here, but in the aftermath I hope it will be something that continues to attract New Zealanders to come and visit."
Asked about the velodrome roofing project, the Prime Minister said there was still work to do in regards to what the end result would look like.
"The velodrome is one of those things that we're looking for a bit of a steer from where council wants to go, and there's obviously been some work around whether it's the roofing or a complete redevelopment.
"What we said in the last election was that if there was funding committed to it then we'd carry that through, but there's been a little bit more debate about the velodrome since then.
"That hasn't stopped us looking for those other projects that will make a difference, the port in particular, we want to see the ongoing support of industry there."
Ardern said some of the businesses she had spoken to during her walk through Whanganui's CBD hadn't needed to use the wage subsidy extension, but there were still support systems in place if people in the community were still struggling financially after the scheme had run out.
"What I think is important for local economies is making sure that if people are losing employment, we continue to have that support for them.
"The Covid income support payment is at the same level as the wage subsidy and if people do lose work they can go on that support for another 12 weeks.
"We have to make sure we are training and supporting our people and getting them into work, but there are lots of different ways to do that."
New Zealand had a chance to "build back better", Ardern said, and the government had issues to deal with before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
"Before Covid we had a housing crisis, before Covid we had a job to do to transition our economy to be clean and green and carbon-neutral, and before Covid we had productivity issues and low wage jobs in our economy.
"This is a chance to accelerate everything we're doing to try and fix these problems, which is why our plan is about public housing, it's about investing in jobs for nature, and working on our waterways, advancing our waste initiatives and 100 per cent renewable electricity.
"it's all about what we do on the way, and if we can come out of the other side of Covid with port infrastructure and the Sarjeant Gallery, then that's building back better."
A small group of anti-abortion protesters from Voices for Life gathered near QSi during the Prime Minister's visit.