The Trough Monitor: the latest handouts have a timely Waitangi Day ring to them

The  Point of Order Trough Monitor,  which keeps a check on how taxpayers’ money is being invested, spent or given away by the Ardern Government, had a busy week in the run-up to Waitangi Day.

Some announcements seemed shamelessly pitched at pleasing Māori voters.  These included a $100 million fund to support Māori land development in the regions.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones brayed about the Government stepping in “where the banks fear to tread” (but won’t bankers invest anywhere if they are reasonably confident  they will be backing a winner?)

The Government will let them off the hook on this one:  it will be contributing public money to projects which the conventional banks”  find challenging because they can’t work out how they can extend money and recover it if there’s are 1000 owners over – let’s say – a 50-acre block, Jones explained.

National Party leader Simon Bridges was a spoilsport about this, describing it as a waste of money that will go to a “selected few“, and the Government should focus on the real problem – fixing the Resource Management Act.

Reforming the law would mean taxpayers wouldn’t need to become the bank of last resort for Māori land development, he said.

Troughers aren’t the only recipients of the money being doled out from an array of troughs this week,  it’s fair to say.  But separating prudent spending – the sort which all taxpayers expect from a good government – from the more questionable sort can be very much a matter of opinion. We’ll leave it to readers to decide.

Pacific students encouraged to apply for health scholarships    

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa encouraged Pacific students in health or disability-related courses to apply for the Ministry of Health’s Pacific Health Scholarships.

The scholarships contribute to improving access to health services for Pacific people by assisting the development of the Pacific health and disability workforce, she said.

Over $1.4 million has been allocated for the 2019 scholarships.

Since 2002 when the scholarships began, over 1,600 scholarships have been awarded. Medical and dentistry students can qualify for up to $10,000 and nursing, midwifery and allied health students up to $5,000. The total course fees are paid directly to the tertiary institution where the successful applicants will be studying.

Applications for this year’s Pacific Health Scholarships close on at 5pm on Friday.

More information about the scholarships and how to apply, can be found on the Ministry of Health website here


New Zealand doubles its support for Nauru’s economic resilience  

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced New Zealand is to increase funding for economic resilience, human development and good governance in the island nation of Nauru by $8 million over three years.

He announced an increased indicative budget of $18.5 million over three years.

He said New Zealand’s development partnership with Nauru is focused on measures that will benefit future generations – for example, education, renewable energy, and support for the electoral system.

$100 million investment to support Māori landowners and drive regional growth 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $100 million “to help unlock the economic potential of whenua Māori and build prosperity in our regions”.

“An integral part of any inclusive and successful regional economic development strategy lies with supporting Māori landowners to create new opportunities that will lift incomes and the wellbeing of our regions,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The PGF Whenua Māori allocation will be used to provide financial capital (via loans and some grants) for investment-ready projects to  lift the productivity of Māori-owned land. The PGF investment aims to allow Maori land owners to realise greater economic benefits from more productive land blocks.

Māori landowners can apply for funding through the PGF website Applications will be assessed through existing Provincial Growth Fund processes.

As the adminitstrator of the fund, the Provincial Development Unit will work with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Te Puni Kōkiri to support Māori land owners develop business-ready PGF applications.


Otangarei Papakāinga funding approved  

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta congratulated the tiny Northland community of Otangarei for significant steps towards achieving its vision of a proud, vibrant, prosperous community.   She said their efforts were underpinned by the development of the Otangarei Papakāinga.

“Government’s funding has been confirmed and construction is expected to start soon. I’m so proud to be with you today and to share in this success. Congratulations.”

The Minister says the project is an example of a successful partnership between Government and Māori.

Government funding included a grant of $450,000 from Te Puni Kōkiri and $431,241 from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. The Otangarei Papakāinga contribution is $50,000 and Te Hau Awhiowhio o Otangarei Trust will provide a loan of up to $200,000.


Round 10 of funding open to support the Great Rides  

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced applications are open for round 10 of the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund, which has a budget of $2 million each year across two funding rounds to support projects that maintain and improve completed sections of the Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga – the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

 In the previous nine funding rounds, over $8 million has been invested in projects that have included safety and signage improvements, upgrading trail surfaces and replacing bridges.

Applications to Great Rides governance organisations close on March 1.

More information can be found on the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation website:

Investing to kick-start key infrastructure in Kaipara 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced a $20.39m investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to strengthen the Kaipara district’s transport infrastructure and food and horticulture sector.

The Government will invest $19.41 million to upgrade transport links in Kaipara and $6.84 million will be invested from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF). Along with local contributions, this brings the total investment in Kaipara transport infrastructure to $27.26 million.

The Government will also explore upgrading Kaipara wharves and water transport with the Kaipara Moana and will invest $980,000 towards Kaipara Kai, a project that will explore new crop and stock types, and aquaculture opportunities for the region.

The initiative will also promote high-value cropping on the district’s significant fertile whenua assets by utilising existing soil and crop research and environmental best-practice. This will move faming activities further up the value chain as well as developing capability in the local farming community.

PGF Funding announced today (Roads $14.46m, Moana $4.95m, Kai $0.98m)

Project Description PGF Funding
Pouto Road Phase 1 Extending the sealed portion of Pouto Road $5.05m
Kaipara Moana (Wharves analysis and implementation) Investigating wharves and water transport in the Kaipara harbour, including $4.0m for implementation $4.95m
Road re-metalling Improving quality of existing roads $3.15m*
Pouto Road Phases 2 Complete sealing to Pouto Point $3.13m
Waipoua River Road Improving safety and access $1.6m**
Programme Support Additional resource to assist Kaipara District Council to deliver the investment programme. $1.3m
Kaipara Kai Develop a potential 50,000 hectares of fertile land into a sustainable horticultural area $0.98m
50MAX HPMV (High productivity motor vehicle) network Upgrade bridge and road network allowing access for larger, more efficient trucks $0.23m***
Total $20.39m

*Plus additional $4.91m contribution from NLTF

** Plus additional $10,000 contribution from Te Roroa Iwi

*** Plus additional $1.93m contribution from NLTF and $1.0m from Kaipara District Council

Northland Provincial Growth Fund announcements to date:
Project Description Amount
Business Case Development – Northland Rail Upgrade Exploring upgrade of the North Auckland (rail) Line (NAL), running from Auckland to Otiria in the Far North. $0.5m
Twin Coast Discovery Route Support for the next step in the Twin Coast Discovery Route (TCDR) programme, delivering transport improvements across Northland. Up to $6.25m
Hundertwasser Arts Centre Construction of the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Maori Art Gallery. $9.94m
Ngāti Rehia Kauri Sanctuary Opportunity for research and control of kauri dieback in a contained plantation environment, with training and education opportunities. $288,000
Ngāti Rangi Manuka and Kanuka oil distillery Development of a business ecosystem based on extraction of the essential oils of manuka and kanuka. Up to$70,000
Ngati Hine Forestry Trust Joint Venture Te Uru Rākau and Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust to plant and manage 3,600ha of pine trees. $6m
Ngati Hine Manuka Planting Training Programme A mānuka plantation and training/work experience programme for 40 trainees over two years. $1.89m
Opua Wharf Construction of a new concrete pontoon, 111 metres long and 4 metres wide at Opua Wharf. $0.89m
Paihia Wharf Extend, upgrade, maintain and operate the Paihia Wharf. $2.97m
Russell Wharf Upgrade to Russell Wharf including floating concrete pontoons, dinghy dock and a wharf extension. $1.114m
Kawakawa Tourism Hub Develop Te Hononga Interpretive Centre, a cultural tourism hub facility in Kawakawa $2.378m
Waipapa Intersection Improvement Safety improvements to intersection at Waipapa $9m
Totara Industry Proposal – pilot A two-year pilot to test the validity of establishing an indigenous tōtara wood industry in Northland. $0.45m
Hihiaua Stage One Initial stage of a wider plan to develop the Hihiaua Peninsula into a contemporary Maori precinct. $1.075m
Manea Footprints of Kupe Establish an interactive Cultural Heritage Tourism and Education Centre in Opononi, Hokianga. $4.6m
Bay of Islands Airport Terminal Upgrade Construction of new terminal building for BOI Airport. $1.75m
Marine travel lift Purchase and installation of a marine travel lift in Whangarei to assist boat-building and refitting services. $4.84m
Waitangi Mountain Bike Park Construction and delivery of the final stage of WMBP including bike trails and jumps and associated infrastructure. $0.49m
Total: $54.5m

Investment to deliver better connected marae and communities in the regions   

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government will invest $21 million to ensure even more New Zealanders in the regions can access modern and reliable digital services in their community.

The funding package – to connect marae to the internet and establish Regional Digital Hubs (RDHs) in towns enabling local people and businesses to access digital services – builds on $80 million in funding already announced from the Provincial Growth Fund.  This includes the expansion of the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2) and Mobile Blackspot Fund (MBSF) programmes, as well as projects to boost connectivity in Southland and on the West Coast. 

The hubs will offer services such as free WiFi connectivity, co-working spaces and guidance on use of the internet for business purposes. The first will open in Northland; the next regional locations will follow within the funding available.

The Provincial Growth Fund will contribute $20m towards Ardern’s announcement.   The remaining $1 million will be funded from Crown Infrastructure Partners’ Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout budget.


$82 million investment to boost employment in the regions   

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the creation of a new skills and employment initiative – Te Ara Mahi (Pathways to Work) – to support workers and employers in regional New Zealand.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide an investment of up to $82.4 million towards initiatives to boost skills and employments.

The Government will set aside $60 million for programmes in five of the PGF’s surge regions (Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatū-Whanganui), which face particular challenges including high unemployment, low wages and lower productivity compared to the rest of New Zealand.  An additional $20 million will be allocated to non-surge regions with the remaining $2.4m to support programme delivery.

Investment will be directed to two specific programmes that support Māori and Pasifika – He Poutama Rangatahi and the expansion Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ successful Pacific Employment Support Service. Both programme target rangatahi who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).

The PGF investment will also support the development of employment hubs to bring government agencies together to respond to specific needs of local employers and potential local workers.

Regional Economic Development Shane Jones joined the Prime Minister and Employment Minister Willie Jackson at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe to make the announcement.

He Poutama Rangatahi will receive $13.2m while the Pacific Employment Support Service will receive $8.8m.

Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.


He Poutama Rangatahi employment initiative gets big boost    

Employment Minister Willie Jackson welcomed additional funding to support more young people in regional New Zealand to gain sustained employment.

He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) will receive $13.2 million from the Provincial Growth Fund as part of a wider skills and employment initiative – Te Ara Mahi.

Jackson joined Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe to make the announcement.

HPR aims to support communities and employers to develop pathways for rangatahi and take them through to sustained employment underpinned by intensive pastoral care.

In January last year the Government announced $13.2 million in funding for pilot programmes in Te Tai Tokerau, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay.

Nineteen HPR programmes are under way, helping to get young people ready for work in sectors from forestry to hospitality.

Funding to support Pacific employment outcomes in the regions 

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio welcomed the announcement of funding to expand the successful Pacific Employment Support Scheme (PESS) to regional New Zealand.

The Provincial Growth Fund will invest $8.85 million to expand the scheme, as part of the $82.4 million employment and skills initiative Te Ara Mahi, announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

PESS is led by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and supports young Pacific people in Auckland and Hamilton to find sustainable employment, education or training opportunities. The providers that PESS works with support young people through tailored interventions such as career advice, coaching and interview skills.

PGF funding will enable PESS to expand into greater Waikato, Manawatū-Whanganui, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Murihuku/Southland. It will also expand to include Pacific people aged up to 39 years old who are not earning or learning.


Racing Safety Development Fund open for applications 

Racing Minister Winston Peters announced the second round of applications for the $1 million Racing Safety Development Fund will open on February 5.

The fund, which has been operating for 11 years, has two funding rounds each year. The second funding round for the 2018/19 year opens for applications on 5 February, with $389,351 available for allocation.

Peters says the fund is an opportunity to improve race course safety, and benefits clubs and racing bodies across the country. It covers up to half the costs of a project, with $7,500 – $50,000 in funding available for each project.

Applications must be submitted by April 2 through the Department of Internal Affairs online system.

Further information is available from: 

Minister congratulates Te Rūnanga O Whaingaroa on housing initiatives 

Māori Development Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta announced an investment of up to $2.3 million into the Whaingaroa Community Development Project.

The first tranche of funds, $650,000, was made available at the end of January.

The project is focused on housing initiatives in Tākou Bay including housing repairs and affordable home ownership options through investment packages.

Minister Mahuta congratulated Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa for successfully bringing this project – called Te Oranga o Ngā Hapori – to fruition having spent the last three years working with Te Puni Kōkiri and other partners to identify the aspirations of the hapū and whānau that will ensure the future wellbeing of the community.


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