PGF pumps more millions into Northland while Internal Affairs draws attention to another trough

The Point of Order Trough Monitor reminds us that the government has filled more than one trough with taxpayers’ money for oinkers.  It was alerted when the Department of Internal Affairs invited “members of the public” to line up for a dip into a trough under its control.

At much the same time the monitor’s sensors were triggered by New Zealand First leaders announcing they were dishing out more millions in their home patch of Northland.

Point of Order readers will recall that at November 30 last year, Northland had secured funding of $353.3 million (22% of the $1.6 billion total distributed at that time from the Provincial Growth Fund)  for 86 projects.

This put it far ahead of the second-placed East Coast ($238.6m for 45 projects, or 15% of the total) as major beneficiaries from the fund.

In the past few days another $126.4m has been poured into the region. 

But first, let’s look at the Department of Internal Affairs announcement:

Members of the public are invited to apply to the current funding round of the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust.

The Trust chairman, Mr Kai Luey, encourages people to make applications for proposals that support the aims of the Trust.

The trust distributes up to $200,000 in grants to organisations and individuals through two funding rounds each year.

But don’t get the idea that “members of the public” means we are all being invited to apply for some of the lolly.

The statement goes on to say:

The Trust funds activities that promote the preservation and awareness of Chinese New Zealand history and contributions of early Chinese settlers, as well as projects that provide tangible support for Chinese New Zealanders’ history, language and culture.

The statement further says funding from the Trust has supported commissioned works from selected writers and researchers to produce histories on New Zealand fruit shops, laundries, churches and merchants, and Chinese New Year celebration events.

To apply for funding, or to learn more about the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust and its work, the statement suggested we visit the Community Matters website  or phone 0800 824 824.

Point of Order went a bit further (here and here) and learned that requests for funding must have:

  • a budget outlining the costs of the project
  • goals and deliverables that are clearly linked to the aims of the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust
  • endorsement from a reputable organisation within the Chinese poll tax descendant community
  • evidence that proposal and the organisation you belong to is not-for-profit
  • a letter of support from a referee who can verify the community benefits of your project
  • a declaration of any other funding that has been provided for your project

We further learned that a strong sense of guilt, shame or some such must have overwhelmed The Beehive almost 20 years ago.

In 2002, the government formally apologised to the early settler Chinese community for the actions of previous governments that imposed a poll tax on Chinese people entering New Zealand and other discriminatory statutes.   

The New Zealand government established the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust in 2004 with $5 million as a gesture of reconciliation in support of the formal apology. The Trust is a gesture of goodwill to the poll tax payers, their descendants and future generations in recognition of the hardship caused by the poll tax and other discriminatory legislation.

The Trust promotes, but does not limit itself to, funding:

  • learning and use of the Cantonese language
  • awareness and understanding of the history of Chinese communities in New Zealand
  • the recording and preserving of Chinese New Zealand history
  • greater public understanding of ethnic diversity with particular emphasis on the contributions of Chinese New Zealanders
  • Chinese arts and culture (including Chinese New Zealand creative and cultural expression).

Among other requirements, if funding of more than $5,000 is sought, applications must show:

  • evidence of the financial and technical viability of the proposal
  • that funding sought is not the responsibility of central or local government
  • that the proposal does not seek funding for things already funded by central or local government through other channels
  • evidence of other fundraising activities – larger projects need to show support from other sources.

If seeking more than $50,000 a copy of a feasibility study or a business or strategic plan must be provided.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, meanwhile, were back in the business of pouring millions of PGF dollars into their home land.

30 JANUARY 2020

Investment to revitalise Northland (here).

State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have today announced a $109.7 million investment, through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), into regional rail that will revitalise train services across the Northland region.

“Last year we announced almost $95 million of Provincial Growth Fund funding to undertake long overdue and critical maintenance on the rail line to Whangarei and today we are building on our promise to return rail to its rightful place in Northland,” Mr Peters said.   

“We are investing a further $69.7 million to lower the tracks through tunnels on the Northland Line between Swanson and Whangarei, expanding rail further into Northland by reopening the rail line from Kauri and building a container terminal at Otiria.” 

A further $40 million has been earmarked to purchase land along the designated route of the spur line to Northport and Marsden Point.

“This second phase of funding is a game changer that will allow more freight onto rail and help reduce road congestion, road maintenance costs and seriously lower carbon emissions. It will also mean that modern shipping containers can be carried through the tunnels on the North Auckland Line,” Mr Peters said. 

This investment will allow KiwiRail to secure the land needed for a new rail line to Northport – one of the only ports in New Zealand that is not rail connected.

Having this land means that when the Government does make its final decision about a future port in Northland, we will be ready to get going, said Mr Jones.

The $109.7 million PGF investment is part of a wider, billion dollar rail funding package in Budget 2019.

31 JANUARY 2020

Up to $12.7m for Northland water projects (here)

The Government will provide up to $12.7 million to make Northland more resilient in the face of extreme weather, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

“We are providing up to $12.745m through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to ensure the region has a reliable water supply which can be used to develop underutilised land, grow new markets, create jobs and put more money into the local economy,” Winston Peters said.

The two water storage projects being funded are:

  • Northland Water Storage and Use Project – up to $12m for Northland Regional Council
  • Kai for Kaipara Water – $745,000 for Kaipara District Council

In 2018 the PGF provided up to $18.5m to Northland Regional Council to progress water storage projects in the Kaipara and mid-North regions through pre-feasibility work. The funding allowed only one of these to move to full feasibility and construction.

“We’re now providing additional funding to enable water storage projects in both regions to progress to construction,” Shane Jones said.

“Through this initiative Northland will be able to store water during peak flow times to use during dry periods. A reliable freshwater supply will lead to benefits that include providing landowners with greater land use options and the opportunity to develop new sustainable agriculture and horticulture markets,” Shane Jones said.

The PGF can be used to invest in water storage initiatives that will enable Māori land to be better utilised, strengthen regional economies, are environmentally sustainable, have local support and deliver benefits to communities.

The $745,000 PGF funding for the Kai for Kaipara project will enable Kaipara District Council to demonstrate a model that will give local landowners and external investors confidence that they can transition to high-value horticulture once a sustainable water supply is in place.

Kai for Kaipara is part of the Kaipara Kickstart package the Government announced last February. The PGF previously provided $980,000 to the project to explore new food and horticulture options for the region.

31 JANUARY 2020

Dargaville pontoon to be upgraded (here)

The Provincial Growth Fund will invest $4 million for Kaipara District Council to upgrade the Dargaville pontoon, the first in its plan to improve wharves on Kaipara Harbour, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

“The replacement of the Dargaville pontoon will improve access to the harbour and grow tourism and other commercial activities,” Winston Peters said.

Today’s announcement follows the investment early last year of $950,000 for Kaipara District Council to analyse its harbour infrastructure and ferry transport.

The funding is expected to have benefits in servicing the growing local and international tourist numbers including cyclists and day-tripper demands.

Kaipara Harbour is a world-famous habitat for fish and birds and has an international reputation as a productive marine ecosystem and breeding ground for 42 coastal bird species including the migratory locally revered kuaka, bar-tailed godwit.

CORRECTION:  We over-stated the total sum involved in the three  announcements of PGF funding for Northland in our original post.  Adding the figures again, we reached a more  modest $126.4 million.


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