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$153 million boost

Today is historic for Gisborne, with an injection of $152.7 million in Government funding announced.

Never before has the district been handed as much money. It equates to $3400 a person.

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann calls it a “game-changer” for the region.

The $152.7 million investment package is a partnership with the region for opportunities to develop jobs, transport and business.

The biggest chunk of money is $137 million to improve the roading network.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Gisborne today, alongside Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, to announce funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The a package of funding would help boost the economy, create jobs and enhance tourism opportunities, she said.

“Tairawhiti offers a unique quality of life combined with genuine business and economic opportunities. However, it faces significant infrastructure challenges, high unemployment and lower productivity.

“That’s why the Government is investing $152.7 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to ensure Tairawhiti reaches its potential.”

Projects announced today include investments of:

• $137 million to unlock Tairawhiti’s economic potential through stronger, safer and more resilient transport connections.

• $801,000 for forestry projects that provide jobs and training opportunities for young people.

• $13.3 million for tourism projects to attract more visitors to the region.

• over $1 million for projects in the food and beverage sector.

“The projects funded through today’s announcement reflect the priorities of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan, which emphasise the need to connect people and markets and support businesses to thrive,” she said.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the roading investment of up to $137 million was to help unlock economic potential through stronger, safer and more resilient transport connections.

The National Land Transport Programme is also investing $232 million in Tairawhiti, meaning the total investment in the land transport network is expected to be $369 million.

“The road network in Tairawhiti has suffered from historical under-investment and recurring extreme weather events,” Shane Jones says.

“The purpose of the PGF is to accelerate regional development, increase regional productivity and contribute to more, better-paying jobs. I’m confident that today’s announcement will achieve each and every one of these goals,” he said.

The Tairawhiti Roading Package consists of four components — a two-year physical works programme totalling $33.90 million, funding support for emergency repairs up to $4.80 million, delivery of a five-year pipeline consisting of $3.90 million for investigations, and up to $108 million for implementation (totalling $112.00 million), with construction scheduled to start at year three (2020/21) and resource support up to $1 million.

Mrs Thatcher Swann said the roading network would undergo a major transformation.

“It also safeguards business and visitor access to our region. We depend on our state highways for the safe and efficient movement of the vast bulk of our horticultural and agricultural products to markets nationally and abroad. The economic importance of land transport cannot be overstated,” she says.

Kaiti Hill is set for an upgrade with today’s announcement of $6.1 million for it.

The investment will fund the Titirangi summit upgrade, which includes a visitor facility and carpark redevelopment. This is a significant project that reflects the dual heritage of Maori and European in the region.

“The PGF funding will help to increase productivity and tourism opportunities in Tairawhiti by showcasing and celebrating the unique culture and navigational heritage of the region,” Mr Jones said.

“The Titirangi – Puhi Kai Iti Connection project will recognise important tupuna, such as Te Maro of Ngati Oneone, who made a significant contribution to their people and are important to the Tairawhiti region and to the greater story of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“It is the pinnacle of three Tairiwhiti Navigation Programmes supported by the PGF, which together have the potential to contribute around 44 jobs to the region.

“The programme aims to bring together the voyaging, arrival and settlement histories from two cultures, and provide a world-class heritage experience at key sites based around the Gisborne Inner Harbour,” he said.

Other projects included in the Tairawhiti Navigations Programme are the Gisborne inner harbour improvements and the Cook Landing Site restoration, which has also received $1.6 million from the PGF.

The Mt Titirangi – Puhi Kai Iti Connection is expected to be delivered in time for the 250-year commemoration events in October 2019.

The redevelopment of Gisborne’s airport is up for a $5.5m boost, which will be administered as a loan.

The total cost of the redevelopment is $12.5 million and it will be co-funded by the PGF, Eastland Group Ltd and Eastland Community Trust.

“The redevelopment will ensure the airport terminal reflects the unique cultural aspects of Tairawhiti, closely linking with the region’s navigations- themed tourism initiative. With the 2019 sestercentennial celebrations to be hosted by the region, the project will cater to expected demand, as well as help tell the story of the region.

Also announced today was a $500,000 investment from the PGF in the Far East Saw Mill to increase wood processing capacity and get local people into jobs.

The total cost to recommission the mill is just over $3.6 million, with the rest of the funding coming from Eastland Community Trust and Far East Saw Mill Limited.

“Only 4 percent of raw logs are milled in Tairawhiti, but there is potential for that to increase by up to 25 percent, which will add an estimated $120 million annually to the region,” Mr Jones said.

“Funding will also help speed up the mill’s production capacity, which is only operating at 10 percent, while also returning 50 jobs to the local economy.

“This will lead to higher-value forestry products produced and more money going back into the community via pay packets for local workers,” Mr Jones said.

Far East Saw Mill is part of the Wood Processing Centre of Excellence, which aims to be a hub for wood processing, wood products, marketing and distribution, and training and research.

The Provincial Growth Fund will provide just over $300,000 to pilot a forestry training course as a solution to the growing forestry skills shortage.

The full cost of the pilot is $840,000, with additional funding coming from Eastland Community Trust, the Forest Growers Levy Trust and Eastern Institute of Technology.

“Forestry is a key sector, but there simply aren’t enough skilled workers in the region to do the work.

“The ManaiaSAFE Forestry School pilot course funded through today’s announcement will reduce the current skills shortage by preparing individuals with the right skills needed to be successful and make forestry their career of choice.

“The forestry training pilot has the potential to provide real benefits to the Tairawhiti region through skills training and employment for our rangitahi, while contributing to the goals of the one billion trees programme.

“If successful, the pilot could also form the basis for similar training courses in other parts of the country where there are forestry skills shortages,” he said.

Snapshot of the funding

Tairawhiti Roading PackagePackage of upgrades to the roading network across the Gisborne region — up to $137m.

Mt Titirangi - Puhi Kai Iti Connection To build ‘Titirangi - Puhi Kai iti’ landscape and facilities, including a new wananga and a bridge, other facilities at the Cook Landing Site — up to $6.1m.Gisborne AirportRedevelopment of the Gisborne Airport terminal building and supporting infrastructure — $5.5m.

Cook Landing Restoration Restoration of the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve — $1.6m.New Zealand Macadamia Industry Development ProjectGrowing macadamia on Maori land for export — $995,000

Tairawhiti Rail Feasibility Study Feasibility study for a rail tourism venture, including an extended Gisborne-Napier rail cycleway, and use of the Wairoa to Gisborne line for freight purposes (joint study) — up to $600,000.Far East SawmillTo recommission and improve a Gisborne mill site — $500,000.

Manaia Forestry Skills Training. Feasibility study to establish a ManaiaSAFE Forestry School— $301,000.Regional Action Plan Programme Manager Co-ordinating effort in order to accelerate the region’s growth — $90,000.Tairawhiti Honey StrategyDevelopment of a Tairawhiti Manuka Honey strategy — $40,000.

Water and Waste ManagementApplication for a feasibility study on a water recycling plant and waste management initiative — $30,000.