The announcement was made by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, whose Maori electorate happens to include the Kaikohe area which will benefit from the handouts.
He said the Provincial Growth Fund will invest $2.8 million “to further economic growth opportunities in tourism in the Mid-North and help lift the prosperity and well being of its communities”.
First, the PGF is investing $1.79 million to redevelop and enhance Te Waiariki Ngawha Springs, located near Kaikohe.
“Over the past three years, use of the spring has increased from 22,000 visitors in 2015 to more than 40,000 in 2017 with no active marketing,” said Kelvin Davis.
“This project has the potential to further build the Mid-North’s total visitor market and provide employment for up to 30 people, while delivering benefits to the local community through enhancing an important local landmark.”
Second, funding of $890,000 will be provided to evaluate the potential for an innovation and enterprise park to be built on 165 hectares at Ngawha, near Kaikohe. The aim is to improve the utilisation of the region’s natural resources.
“This will be an actively managed hub that will bring together complementary activities such as manufacturing, construction, innovation, and research and development. It will support training and pathways to employment for locals.”
Third, the government will invest just over $178,000 in Tē Pu o Te Wheke – The Heart of Ngāpuhi to develop a business case to establish a multi-use, leading edge community, cultural and tourism hub to revive Kaikohe’s main centre.
“The Mid-North has massive potential and after years of neglect this Government is going to unlock it through the PGF,” Kelvin Davis said.
Perhaps one of our Treasury subscribers will tell us what their department thinks of taxpayers’ investment in these projects.
On the same day, Davis and fellow Northlander Shane Jones came up with another deal to benefit their region and a small band of citizens.
They announced a pilot that will enable release-to-work prisoners to train and work in the forestry sector as part of the One Billion Trees Programme.
The pilot will be located in Northland with Crown Forestry joint ventures needing planters in this area for the upcoming season.
Developed by Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, the pilot will involve up to 15 prisoners from the Northland Regional Corrections Facility employed to plant seedlings as part of the 2019 season.
Those prisoners will also work towards an NCEA Level 2 Qualification as part of the programme, supporting their reintegration and providing potential employment opportunities once released.
“It is these sorts of initiatives that are really at the core of what the One Billion Trees Programme is all about,” Shane Jones said.
“Yes, it’s about planting trees, but it’s also about providing employment opportunities and helping fill skill shortages. This pilot could pave the way for prisoners who are at the end of their sentence to find employment in the forestry sector – one of our most successful industries.”
A substantial number of prison inmates participate in employment or industry training.
Prisoners are trained in industries such as construction, farming, nurseries, forestry, timber processing, furniture making, textiles, catering, engineering, concrete product manufacturing, printing and laundries.
Some examples of forestry or related training currently offered in prisons across New Zealand include:
- a release to work programme for seven prisoners from Tongariro Prison focused on planting and pruning of Radiata Pine; and
- six prison nurseries supplying a range of public and private organisations.
The release-to-work programme in Northland will involve 10 prisoners working onsite (with a rotation of 15). It will include two Corrections officers overseeing the workers, with the planting work managed by a silviculture contractor.
If successful and the pilot is rolled out, this will further help the forestry industry to fill skill shortages and support the One Billion Trees Programme.