Goodies for Northland: the gravy train – and Shane – ride in again

Yesterday was Friday so Shane Jones and his bag(s) of goodies should have been in ….

Oh, yes.  Back on his home patch of Northland and (no surprise) he returned to distribute  money.

Meningitis was there, too, as a political rival , Whangarei MP Shane Reti, pointed out.

An agenda item for next week’s Northland District Health Board meeting confirms that there has been another case of Meningitis W in Northland, Reti said in a press statement. 

“This brings the total to two this year after a seven month old child contracted the disease earlier in the year. There were seven cases of Meningitis W in Northland last year and an outbreak was declared on 8 November, resulting in one death.”

Reti had “grave concerns” that meningitis would flare up again over winter.

He called for the Ministry of Health to release the thousands of unused meningitis vaccines “that are slowly expiring” and make them immediately available free of charge to all Northland children.

But Jones was putting public money to other use, distributing or lending public funds to businesses that don’t desperately need them.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke made that point in response to the announcement of a $2.37 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund to a Northland berry farm.

 “Why couldn’t this business get a loan from the bank? If no bank was willing to take a punt, why should taxpayers bear the same risk?”

 “This is a classic example of the Government using taxpayer money to pick winners. By giving one business a special favour, Shane Jones is effectively blowing raspberries at other growers who have to compete without taxpayer help.

 “If the Government wants to stimulate economic development it can always cut company taxes, which will help all businesses, not just a fashionable few.”

  The Point of Order Trough Monitor registered the loan to the berry farm along with several other distributions of public money over the past few days.

 12 July 2019

PGF brings berry good news for Northland

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the Provincial Growth Fund will invest in the rapid expansion of a labour-intensive, high-tech hydroponic berry growing operation in Northland.

Family-owned Onyx Capital Limited will receive a loan of $2.37 million for the first phase of expanding its operations, which will result in an extra four hectares of hydroponic berries being planted and the creation of 45 full-time local jobs.

Onyx Capital Ltd operates its hydroponic berry operation, Maungatapere Berries, from a 30-hectare site in Maungatapere, near Whangarei. It focuses predominantly on kiwifruit, but expanded into hydroponic berries in 2015.

“Maungatapere Berries’ expansion of its existing small-scale business will help introduce a new export industry into Northland and create a centre for hydroponic excellence for other growers.

 “Hydroponic cropping has huge potential for Northland through its sustainable growing system. It offers crop protection from climate change, provides optimal growing conditions, increases yields and reduces the use of water and fertiliser.”

Maungatapere Berries, longer term, aims to add to its current education and training programme for staff and will build on its current pay structure by introducing a shareholding scheme to provide additional benefit and financial returns to reward well performing full-time staff.

12 JULY 2019

Kaingaroa community looks to a new future through housing project

Māori Development and Associate Housing Minister Nanaia Mahuta today visited the Kaingaroa Village to announce a $2.4 million investment in housing.

Kaingaroa Forest Village is the sixth and final community project to join the Māori Housing Network Community Development programme. These projects recognise that no single intervention or entity can solve the increasingly complex problems that communities face.

Mahuta says the whānau of Kaingaroa Village is a great example of a community that has a strong vision of growth and development despite the numerous challenges they have faced.

This community development model will prioritise projects such as urgent housing repairs, an infrastructure upgrade of an oxidation pond for future papakāinga development, and delivery of the Sorted Kāinga Ora financial capability programme.

A video of the project can be seen here.

Kaingaroa Forest Village is a settlement of approximately 435 people, 98% of them Māori.

The village is located in the Kaingaroa Forest between Rotorua and Taupō on the volcanic plateau of the Central North Island. The 98.5 hectares of land on which it is situated was owned and operated by the NZ Forest Service until the service closed its businesses in March 1987 and surrendered its lease agreement of the village.

Parliament returned the land to the tangata whenua, Ngāti Manawa.

The assets (houses, shops, workshops, school, kōhanga reo, marae, complex building, Nissan Hall, Kindy Play Centre) were transferred to the Kaingaroa Papakāinga Trust under a license to occupy arrangement with Ngāti Manawa.

12 July 2019

One Billion Trees Programme protecting national tāonga

Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced a Northland iwi, Ngāti Rēhia, will receive $170,000 funding from the One Billion Trees Fund to plant 34 hectares of riparian and coastal land at Takou Bay in native trees.

Over the next two and a half months 30,000 seedlings will be planted to help deliver important biodiversity and environmental benefits.

Some seedlings will be sourced from Ngati Whare’s Minginui Nursery in the Bay of Plenty, who awhakapapa back to Mataatua.

The trees will complement Ngati Rehia’s overall aspirations to develop a Kauri Sanctuary at Takou Bay.

“One of the goals of the One Billion Trees Programme is to support Māori to realise the potential of their land and this project goes right to the heart of this.”

In 2018, Government funding of $288,000 was committed to a partnership between Ngāti Rēhia and Scion to determine whether ancestral land in Takou Bay was free of Kauri Dieback.

This involved soil testing and analysis for Kauri Dieback. The feasibility study was one of the first of its kind to determine whether kauri, or other native species, could be successfully established in Northland and remain disease free.

A further $50,000 was then committed to protect the area once it was found to be suitable for a kauri sanctuary. This allowed fences to be built, paths to be cleared, and signage to be added to the boundaries.

The project has also included training and education opportunities for locals in establishing and managing indigenous forests.

12 July 2019

PGF-funded driver training exceeds expectations in Northland

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says a Provincial Growth Fund investment to help young ex-offenders get a driver’s licence has exceeded expectations in Northland, with 338 people getting licences,

The New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform received $7.5 million from the PGF in mid-2018 to expand its driver’s licence programme in targeted regions, including Northland.

Five hundred and sixty-two licences, across a number of license classes, were given to 338 ex-offenders in the past year. The target for the year was 200 licenses.

Sixty-nine per cent of the 338 who passed identified themselves as Māori and the Department of Corrections has placed 120 of the 338 people into employment.

“As most entry level jobs require a driver’s licence, this will improve the employment prospects of participants significantly. The Howard League is providing ex-offenders a second chance to get them back on the straight and narrow.

“A driver’s licence also provides ex-offenders with identification for situations such as signing up for a rental property or a bank account, and other important steps for reintegration back into society.”

13 July 2019

Supporting our regions with vital tourism infrastructure

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced the Government will invest $12 million from round three of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund to help 25 councils around New Zealand make the most of tourism opportunities.

The announcement was made at an event at Matapouri Beach in Northland.

As a part of the funding round, $1.1 million is being provided to Whangarei District Council for a project to restore the mauri of Matapouri.

The project is a collaborative effort between Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu Hapū Trust and the council.

The Tourism Infrastructure Fund provides up to $25 million annually to develop tourism-related infrastructure that supports regions facing pressure from tourism growth.

Round three will see 34 projects and 6 feasibility studies co-funded across 25 councils, and will include upgraded water treatment and waste management facilities, wifi ready solar powered rubbish bins, car parks, toilets and improved camping facilities.

Across three funding rounds, $45.8 million has been invested in 120 projects. This complements other government investment, including $16.5 million in supporting responsible camping.

Applications for Round 4 of the fund will be welcomed from 1 August.



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