28 Feb 2020

Regions to get share of $190m infrastructure funding

12:14 pm on 28 February 2020

Eight regions around the country from Northland to Southland will get a share of a $190 million injection for infrastructure projects.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announcing $190m of infrastructure funding.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announcing $190m of infrastructure funding. Photo: RNZ / Jordan Bond

The funding is part of of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the projects, across land, air and sea would grow the regions, modernise infrastructure and prepare for climate change.

The flagship project, redeveloping Ōpōtiki Harbour, will receive $79.4m.

Jones said it would revitalise the township and create almost 2000 jobs, including 730 in the town, many in aquaculture.

"Direct employment in Ōpōtiki longer term will be driven by work on sea farm servicing vessels, production staff in processing facilities and support staff in the aquaculture industry.

"Ōpōtiki Harbour has been in the pipeline for such a long time with successive governments unable to make the project stack up. With the full attention of officials from the Provincial Development Unit... we have been able to develop a concept that is fit-for-purpose yet affordable.

"Given Ōpōtiki has one of the country's highest levels of social and economic deprivation, with low household incomes, high unemployment and below average educational outcomes, new employment in town will make a big impact on wellbeing and social participation."

The total cost of the project is $99.4m, with the Bay of Plenty Regional contributing $20m. The projects are across Northland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Otago, West Coast, Canterbury and Southland. None of the country's largest cities are included.

Almost $90m has been allocated for 14 roading and safety improvements, including improving or building intersections, roundabouts, bridges, seawalls, and flood mitigation.

"This funding boost has allowed us to get projects underway that may not have been an exact fit with the Provincial Growth Fund criteria but were worthy investments nonetheless," the minister said.

"These projects will now be able to be included in our infrastructure pipeline, bringing more certainty and planning ability to the broader infrastructure sector."

'Start of a new era'

Ōpōtiki mayor Lyn Riesterer said she and others had advocated for the harbour project for 15 years.

"This is the start of a new era for our district - new jobs, new industry and a new way forward. And we are more than ready to grab this opportunity with both hands - get our rangatahi into real, long term and meaningful work. I can't wait to see the innovative future we build for ourselves with this kick start, Riesterer said.

"We are what we like to call 'spade-ready'. Short of having money in our account to start spending on people and materials, we are ready to go. We have the contracts and consents and the project plans. This funding is our green light."

Former mayor, John Forbes, said it was a proud day after years of advocacy.

"This project will boost New Zealand's growing aquaculture industry and make us world-leaders in sustainable, high-value protein production. All in an area of provincial New Zealand that has a recent history of high deprivation and under employment."

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