PGF goodies are dished up in Wairoa today – in the region which ranks tops for funding per project

An above-average helping  was dished up today, when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, announced the latest distributions from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Tabuteau had moved further up the East Coast after yesterday delivering $2.8 million to the Ngā Ara Tipuna –  Waipukurau Pā Site Interpretation project “to create an authentic cultural tourism experience”.

Today he announced…

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing up to $6.1 million to revitalise business and tourism opportunities in Wairoa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.

The PGF is funding:

  • Up to $4.8 million for the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility
  • Up to $960,000 for the Wairoa Digital Employment Programme (funded through Te Ara Mahi, the PGF’s skills and training allocation)
  • $400,000 for the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub.

As we reported yesterday, the Point of Order Trough Monitor has been analysing the distributions announced by Tabuteau and – more usually – Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

The figures we found on the PGF website take us up to November 30 2019 and affirm that the region to benefit most, by far, has been Northland.

Northland by then had secured funding of $353.3 million (22% of the total) for 86 projects.

Next best was the East Coast, securing funding of $238.6m. (15% of the total) for 45 projects.

Throughout the country the fund had dished out almost $1.6 billion to 429 projects.

Further massaging of the data show the average sum announced for each of those projects nationally was $3.7m.

This means the sum of “up to” $4.8m announced today for the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility is well above the national average.

But as our table below shows, it’s not as big as the average distribution per project for the Tairāwhiti / East Coast region.

Northland  has secured substantially more funding than Tairāwhiti /East Coast, but this has been distributed among many more projects.

If funding per project is used as the measure, Tairāwhiti / East Coast leaps into top place with an average $5.3m.

But Gisborne is separately listed as the beneficiary of funding for one project of $5,030,000.

The West Coast is next best with an average $4.46m per project, followed by Northland with an average $4.1m.

Do those averages suggest Future Forest Products was being overly ambitious when it applied for a $15m helping hand for a project now steeped in political controversy because of the company’s links with New Zealand First? 

At first blush, yes.

But the published data on the PGF website show 25 other applicants have secured grants or loans of $15m or more.

The biggest grant from the fund – a whopping $137.6m – went to the Gisborne District Council

… for two years of catch-up’ on critical road transport repairs and upgrades so Tairāwhiti can have a fit-for-purpose road network that is essential to the economic, social and cultural prosperity of our region.

Warbling about the great good that will be done by the more modest funding announced in Wairora today, Tabuteau said:

“These projects will encourage more businesses and visitors into the main town and create better employment opportunities for local people.”  

Really?

But because much the same rationale is given to similar distributions from the PGF in other parts of the country, Tabuteau must be counting on New Zealanders spending much more money than before in many more parts of the country, or a significant inflow of overseas tourists is expected.

Either way, a great deal more travelling to places like Waipukerau and Wairoa seem to be involved.

We can only wonder about the implications for the government’s climate change targets.

But let’s hear why we should head for Wairoa:

“The Wairoa District Council will develop the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility and the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub. The Korua Digital Agency, set up by the Korou Digital Charitable Trust, will deliver the Wairoa Digital Employment Programme.

“Wairoa has a unique community and this funding will transform two centrally-located, under-utilised buildings by concentrating economic activity such as the visitor centre, start-up tenants, Rocket Lab education centre and a potential showcase for local food and beverages in a prime location in the township.

“The Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility is expected to deliver benefits to the Wairoa community through attracting and supporting local businesses and start-ups to the township, increasing employment potential and diversifying economic activities.

“It is also expected to attract passing traffic and increase visitor spending across all businesses.”

The Wairoa Digital Employment Programme will develop digital capability through training programmes for local people who want a career in the digital sector and is intended to  help grow better opportunities within the high-skilled, high-waged sector.

“The programmes will provide 12 weeks of paid digital and technology-based industry training, including software engineering, programming application and game development followed by 40 weeks employment as a digital apprentice with at least 48 participants expected to enrol in the first two years.

“Funding will also be used to develop the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub, which is a facility that will provide better internet connectivity to individuals, small businesses and corporates.

“The Hub will be used for training, mentoring and business advisory with workshops to upskill business or IT related activity.

“Not everyone has access to the internet in Wairoa so this Hub will also have huge benefits for individuals in the community,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

Here’s our table showing the average funding per project favoured by the PGF and the politicians who oversee it (based on official data up to November 30 2019).

Region

Number of Funding announced Average funding
projects

per project

$ $
Tairāwhiti / East Coast 45 238,576,248 5,301,694
Gisborne 1 5,030,000 5,030,000
West Coast 20 89,208,620 4,460,431
Tai Tokerau / Northland 86 353,272,030 4,107,814
Bay of Plenty 36 124,451,409 3,456,984
Wellington 5 15,629,286 3,125,857
Manawatū-Whanganui 37 99,677,149 2,693,977
Otago 32 85,911,098 2,684,722
Hawke’s Bay 35 90,602,344 2,588,638
Canterbury/West Coast 1 2,180,000 2,180,000
Southland 27 47,688,336 1,766,235
Waikato 14 20,702,865 1,478,776
Nelson 1 1,092,000 1,092,000
Te Tau Ihu / Top of the South 11 11,858,980 1,078,089
Taranaki 26 27,466,429 1,056,401
Canterbury 14 12,809,005 914,929
Kapiti 4 3,290,000 822,500
Wairarapa 5 2,108,000 421,600
Manawatū-Whanganui/Horowhenua 6 1,033,000 172,167
Chatham Islands 1 98,000 98,000
Pan-Region 19 344,183,363 18,114,914
National 1 10,000,000 10,000,000
TOTAL 427 1,586,868,161 3,716,319

CORRECTIONS:    The original table wrongly recorded the numbers of projects in Bay of Plenty (the correct number is 36) and Canterbury (the correct number is 14). More significantly, we under-stated the sum approved for the one Gisborne project,  which involves the Te Wiwi Nati Trust and Te Riu o Waiapu Trust Partnership.  The correct Gisborne total is $5,030,000.  The text has been revised accordingly.

 

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