The Govt has gone bananas with our money (while casting a doubt on its climate policies)

Ministers in charge of science funding and Maori development have sent out a confusing signal which – at first blush – suggests they harbour doubts about the efficacy of their Govt’s climate change policies.

Those policies, including net-zero-emission targets, presumably are intended to slow – if not halt – climate warming.

But the Ministers of whom we write have doled out money for a banana-growing industry.

Some may muse that this is to prepare the way for climate change effects which allow horticulturalists to abundantly grow tropical fruits.

Not necessarily.

A mate of ours in the science caper says there are cold-climate varieties and he would guess – given they have a high demand for water – they would be ideally suited to Northland.

Frost sensitivity is a big challenge.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta didn’t mention the bananas when they announced funding for 34 new projects worth $3.8 million over two years through the sixth round of Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund.

You have to turn to the full list of successful projects on the MBIE website.

Lest you have not caught up with this particular money trough, by the way, the ministerial statement explains:

Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund invests in people and organisations undertaking or planning research which supports the four themes of the Vision Mātauranga Policy: indigenous innovation; taiao achieving environmental sustainability; hauora/oranga improving health and social wellbeing; and mātauranga exploring indigenous knowledge.

Up to $4 million per investment round is available through two different schemes in the fund.

At the of the list of fund-winning projects in the latest round is this AgResearch project, for which $93,455 of our money and yours has been provided:

“The growth of a banana industry – rapid expansion of commercial Banana growing in Tārawhiti”.

The press statement tells us a bit more about the fund and the Government’s aims

“This fund has a strong focus on investing in Māori people and organisations that can create unique opportunities and innovative solutions through science research,” says Minister Woods.

“The projects funded through the Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund reflect the high calibre of diverse research aimed at creating a healthier, more sustainable and better future for all of New Zealand.”

Nanaia Mahuta said there was a range of exciting new projects in this year’s round.

She mentioned sustainability in the Chatham Islands, improving biodiversity and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) in South Westland, and developing a climate change strategy for Te Arawa.

The press statement went on:

“The contribution Māori make to our research, science and innovation sectors is distinctive and essential to the growth of New Zealand,” says Minister Mahuta.

“Māori have valuable knowledge to help solve our country’s unique problems. Investment into Māori knowledge and resources, and building a better understanding of Māori values creates resilient communities.”

The knowledge in the case of the banana project looks likely to come from the AgResearch side of the partnership.

The other partner is a company called Tai Pukenga Limited.

A company of that name, based in Hastings, has been in business for almost eight years.

It is described HERE as a management consultancy service.

We wish the project well and look forward to news of its success.

Then – if not before – we expect Shane Jones, the Minister of Regional Largesse, to dip into the Provincial Growth Fund for money for banana-growing projects in the tropical paradise of The Far North.

As our science mate said, bananas would be ideally suited to Northland.

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