Jones is back in the Waikato with PGF money to propel Te Waka – or perhaps to top it up

We are open to correction, but it seems Provincial Growth Fund fairy dust is not sprinkled in the Waikato as generously as it is in – let’s say – Northland.

A year ago, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones met with three district councils in the eastern Waikato – Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, and Matamata-Piako – to discuss, among other things, the recently launched Guide to the PGF – Powering up Aotearoa – New Zealand’s Regions

A few days later Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau spoke at a meeting in Hamilton hosted by the newly formed Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency about the fund and the opportunities it provides for the region.

“Waikato is full of potential and the Government is committed to working with the region to lift productivity and build on its many attributes,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“The establishment of the new WREDA and initiatives like the Waikato Māori Agenda and Action Plan provide a strong platform for sustainable, productive and inclusive growth in the region.

News media at that time had their attention drawn to the PGF Guide, Sector Statements, detailed Investment Statement and a Cabinet paper which could be found  here. 

When Tabuteau did his thing in August last year – by the way – he referred to the agency as the Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency.

This name has the enormous benefit of giving people a pretty good idea of the agency’s purpose.

If you wanted to check out where to go in the Waikato for help or information about regional development would you go searching for an outfit called “The Canoe”?

Yet two months later it was “the Chair of Te Waka, Dallas Fisher,” who welcomed an announcement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that two major projects in the Waikato region had received Provincial Growth Fund support.

The two projects would

  • Fully investigate the feasibility of developing Waharoa as a major industrial and food processing hub in the eastern Waikato.

And

  • Advance work and build the investment case to redevelop the Te Aroha Mineral Spa as a major Waikato tourism destination.

Fisher said these projects had the potential to help unlock the significant economic development potential of the Matamata-Piako district and contribute towards the region’s economic wellbeing.

Fair to say, “canoe” isn’t the only English meaning of “waka.

Other meanings – which can be checked out here – include

3. (noun) water trough.

Ka whakakīia te waka ki te wai, ka haramai ngā kererū ki te inu. Ka whakairia he tāhere ki ngā taha o te waka, kia tau mai he manu ki te inu kua mau (Te Ara 2013). / The trough was filled with water, and kererū would come to drink. Snares were set on either side of the trough, and when the birds landed to drink they were caught.

Yep – trough seems appropriate.

Today we can report that Jones is back in the Waikato.

Three media statements yesterday – each detected by the Point of Order Trough Monitor – record the nature and magnitude of his handouts in a region.

Growing Waikato with the PGF

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in Hamilton announced Waikato has been given a financial boost to help grow its economic performance – the Provincial Growth Fund  will invest $400,000 in Te Waka Waikato Economic Development Agency, to ensure it has the access to resources and systems for developing viable initiatives for consideration by the PGF.

 Tourism boost for town ready to grow

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the Provincial Growth Fund is boosting tourism in Paeroa by providing over $700,000 for the Historical Maritime Park Marine development project.

The funding will be used for stage one of the project, which will see a wharf constructed at Paeroa and two floating pontoons installed, a vessel purchased to transport passengers and cycles between landing sites, a board walk connecting both floating pontoons installed, and landscaping of the area around the board walk and pontoons.

The Hauraki District Council has contributed $400,000 in funding.

The new wharf replaces an existing structure, which is now inadequate in light of growing tourist numbers.

The project will complement existing tourism offerings in the area, including the popular Hauraki Rail Trail.

Enabling futures for Waikato children

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced Te Ara Mahi, the Provincial Growth Fund’s skills and employment initiative, has allocated $449,300 towards Smart Waikato’s Secondary School Employer Partnership extension.

This programme introduces children to possible future employers and gives the community confidence through knowing there will be a future for its young people, by making it more attractive for them to stay, take up employment and possibly plan their whole lives locally.

The programme is aimed at students in Year 9 and 10 before they make their NCEA subject decisions to ensure they transition into further education and employment.

 By 2021, thanks to the funding boost, the initiative will have students from 43 schools enrolled in the programme, Jones said.

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