Food firms (which don’t seem to be ill-nourished) get a lick at funding from the PGF

Food innovation and greater employment opportunities are the focus for the latest Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investments – more than $14 million worth this time – for Hawke’s Bay.

The announcement by Parliamentary Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau triggered the Point of Order Trough Monitor.

The breakdown shows:

  • Hawke’s Bay Food Innovation Hub – $12 million
  • Te Ara Mahi Funded projects
    • Ngāti Pāhauwera Training and Employment Project – $1.359 million
    • Turners and Growers Emerging Leaders Pathways – $557,000
  • Apollo Foods – $300,000

“The Hawke’s Bay has been earmarked as a priority region in terms of PGF investment to build on its farming and horticulture strengths, and provide employment opportunities and higher wages for locals,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

The announcement follows a Hawke’s Bay investment PGF package announced in June.

“It is very exciting to see the next stage of the Food Innovation Hub come to fruition after initial PGF investment last year to fund a feasibility and business case for the hub,” Mr Tabuteau said.

“The Food Innovation Hub is well placed to support the region’s horticulture, food, beverage, and agri-technology industries by encouraging collaboration, innovation and sharing of resources, and this will flow on to create new businesses, more skilled jobs and improve productivity for the Hawke’s Bay region.”

Tabuteau said  he took pleasure in announcing the Ngāti Pāhauwera Commercial Development Ltd Training and Employment Project will receive $1.359m from the Te Ara Mahi programme funded through the PGF to provide targeted training and skills development for their community.

Another wad of public money – in other words – for Ngāti Pāhauwera, whose Deed of Settlement late in 2010 was described as the final settlement of all historical claims of Ngāti Pāhauwera resulting from acts or omissions by the Crown prior to 21 September 1992.

The total cost to the Crown of the settlement redress outlined in the Deed of Settlement was $20 million, plus the value of “cultural redress” (sites transferred to Ngāti Pāhauwera) and the value of ten of the commercial redress properties to be vested in the iwi.

The PGF addition to Ngāti Pāhauwera’s boodle follows over $6 million of PGF investment announced in June from the PGF’s Whenua Māori Fund and Te Uru Rakau’s One Billion Trees programme.

“This initial investment enabled Ngāti Pāhauwera to unlock the forestry and horticulture potential of their land,” Tabuteau said.

“Today’s announcement is about the people. This PGF investment will support Ngāti Pāhauwera to help participants develop key skills and get job specific qualifications such as class 4 Heavy Transport qualifications, which will lead to employment in its commercial nursery and horticultural operations.

The PGF’s $557,000 contribution towards a pilot programme run and co-funded by Turners and Growers is intended to up-skill and build the management and leadership capabilities of at least 100 local horticulture workers, leading to 40 new local jobs.

“This initiative is in recognition of an industry wide skills gap in the horticulture sector for front-line supervisors and those with management capability.  Once this pilot is complete, the intention is to roll it out in Northland and Nelson, creating further employment opportunities.”

Support for Apollo Foods with an investment of $300,000 is earmarked for a feasibility study to investigate the expansion of its existing state of the art beverage manufacturing facility and The Apple Press product line.

“Apollo Foods’ apple press business has been a huge success story and a real example of innovation.  Starting in 2018 with just two employees, it now employs 35.”

So why must taxpayers become involved?

Good question.

Tabuteau doesn’t really answer it:

“The PGF can see the huge potential in the planned expansion project that will enable investment in specialised technology, grow more skilled job opportunities for local people, add value to the existing horticulture and dairy industries in the region, and create export opportunities in the future.”

But an enterprise that so quickly burgeoned from two to 35 staff seems quite capable of looking after itself.

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