PM pops up in Ōpōtiki with Shane’s bountiful successor to celebrate harbour spending while Verrall mounts assault on weeds and pests

The Government reminded us yesterday we don’t need Shane Jones – remember him? – to draw attention to distributions of public money in the regions to stimulate enterprise, generate jobs and (all going well) garner votes.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor accordingly has been triggered twice since we last brought you news from the Beehive and – wait, is that it it shrieking again?

No. False alarm.

Both the PM and Stuart Nash, Jones’ successor as Minister for Economic and Regional Development, joined Whakatōhea iwi, local councils and representatives of the aquaculture and marine industry at a ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the construction of the multi-million dollar Ōpōtiki harbour infrastructure project.

This gave Nash the opportunity to bray about the magnitude and benefits of public handout under a Labour Government:

“We are today celebrating the growth of a community which is now able to move from strength to strength,” Mr Nash said.

“The government is investing more than $112 million in three major infrastructure projects as part of the Ōpōtiki Harbour Development project.”

We imagine another ceremony will be conducted when the project is finished and – who knows?  – good reason may be found for several ceremonies (and photo opportunities) along the way

 Acting Minister for Conservation Ayesha Verrall meanwhile was winning hearts and minds down south.

She journeyed to Te Anau to announce “a suite of significant Jobs for Nature projects will boost conservation efforts and create jobs across the southern South Island”.

The Government’s Jobs for Nature programme is investing in projects to protect Fiordland’s exceptional marine areas from an invasive and destructive kelp; expand existing predator and pest control on Rakiura (Stewart Island, if you live in the colonialist past); and restore the health of a braided riverbed habitat in Central Otago.

These three projects will create job and training opportunities for 95 full time equivalent (FTE) positions, according to Verrall’s numbers.

  • A $2 million boost from Jobs for Nature funding will be used to re-deploy and recruit up to 36 staff from the wider Te Anau community over two years (with a publicly declared preference for workers from certain tribes):

“Te Anau locals will have training opportunities to become certified occupational scientific divers and obtain boat qualifications with a focus on recruiting local iwi and hapu members.”

  • The Restoring Rakiura project will receive $2 million over two years to scale up their existing work and create around 45 roles undertaking pest and predator control work around Oban/Halfmoon Bay and adjacent areas.

“The Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust (SIRCET) has been at the forefront of predator control in the area for more than 18 years, but because large parts of the control area are serviced by volunteers the intensity of control, particularly during surges in predator numbers, is limited.”

SIRCET will be given the $2 million to ensure effective suppression is maintained year-round, before control areas are expanded.

  • Verrall perhaps was told “whoa there, minister – we’re running out of dosh”, because the third project is being given $1 million over three years and will open up 14 job opportunities.

This money will be handed to the Friends of Tucker Beach Society to partner with Go with Tourism, a government-funded initiative established to build the tourism workforce, to provide work for underemployed tourism staff.

The aim is to enhance the environmental health of Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve, an area of braided river upstream of the Shotover Bridge near Queenstown.

“Undertaking weed control and maintenance as well as re-establishing native plants will improve the nesting habitat for native black-billed gulls, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels and the South Island pied oystercatchers, all of which are under threat.

“Alongside that reinstating tussock grass, shrubland, kowhai woodland, and pockets of beech/ totara in the braided riverbed and nearby terraces will promote a conservation legacy that over time will support a more diverse native fauna in the reserve,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

The PM’s visit to Ōpōtiki with her trusty Economic and Regional Development Minister enabled them to join in the celebration of an investment of more than $112 million in three major infrastructure projects as part of the Ōpōtiki Harbour Development project in partnership with iwi, local government and the commercial sector.

These are all co-funding or contributing to the developments.

“The community can now celebrate progress on a project that has been a priority for this region for twenty years yet failed to win support in the past. The harbour and aquaculture development will unlock the region’s potential and drive the local economic recovery.”

The funding includes $79.4 million for the Ōpōtiki Harbour development, $24.85 million for aquaculture development and a mussel processing factory, and $8.8 million for new marine and industrial infrastructure.

The harbour construction project is not the only government-supported project to get underway in Ōpōtiki.

Additional investments have resulted in upgrades to important community assets such as five marae, a war memorial, roads, footpaths, cycle trails, horse trails, parks, playgrounds, green spaces and seismic strengthening of council buildings.

More than 1,225 direct jobs will be created in the Ōpōtiki district through Provincial Development Unit-managed investment alone, Nash said.

“Many of the people working on these projects are now moving on to aquaculture-related construction projects and today’s event provided an opportunity to celebrate the success of this community investment and its contribution to the town’s wider development,” Mr Nash said.

Oh – and Nash included some useful information for readers (and taxpayers) who like to keep tabs on what he is doing with our money.

Several Ōpōtiki projects are amongst 1,275 regional economic development initiatives made possible by investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), one of eight funds administered by the Provincial Development Unit in MBIE.

As at 31 March 2021, the number of contracted projects through the PGF is worth almost $2,769 million and they have created jobs and employment for 12,322 people.

A table follows with a regional breakdown of funding and employment by region.

Region Funding – $ Jobs Projects
Bay of Plenty 326,494,194 1,833 174
Canterbury 71,509,800 358 40
Chatham Islands 4,211,145 18 9
Hawke’s Bay 145,894,296 887 133
Kapiti 6,722,909 252 9
Manawatu-Whanganui/Horowhenua 183,673,984 1,391 117
Otago 88,914,709 412 65
Pan-Region projects (rail upgrades, marae connectivity, Predator Free 2050) 510,035,398 344 79
Southland 81,685,732 384 43
Tai Tokerau/Northland 652,712,551 3,282 189
Tairawhiti/East Coast 270,389,407 1,194 163
Taranaki 54,312,892 247 47
Te Tau Ihu/Top of the South 39,994,027 324 27
Waikato 167,195,272 409 118
Wairarapa 12,090,214 436 12
West Coast 153,076,917 552 50
Total $2,768,913,447          12,322  1,275

Latest from the Beehive

30 APRIL 2021

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Regional economic potential unlocked as Bay of Plenty project gets underway

One thought on “PM pops up in Ōpōtiki with Shane’s bountiful successor to celebrate harbour spending while Verrall mounts assault on weeds and pests

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