Provincial Growth Fund is still giving Ministers the chance to score a photo opportunity

Buzz from the Beehive

Remember the Provincial Growth Fund?  This Government got rid of it, on being elected in 2020 without the need to take New Zealand First on board as a coalition partner.

But Ministers in the current Cabinet can still delight in turning up for ceremonies to mark  progress on projects funded by the PGF. All going well, this provides a photo opportunity and will score favourable headlines in the local press.

Two Ministers have been busy showing off what has happened to the money previously distributed by their predecessors, one of them benefiting from PGF spending.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash turned the sod for the new Whakatāne Commercial Boat Harbour, cut the ribbon for the revitalised Whakatāne Wharf, and inspected work underway to develop the old Whakatāne Army Hall into a visitor centre, noting that all of these are part of the $36.8 million Government-funded Whakatāne Regeneration Programme.

The new boat harbour received $19.6 million and the first stage of remediation work at Whakatāne Wharf received $9.6 million from the from the Provincial Growth Fund,  and the new visitor centre to be built by Ngāti Awa has received $7.6 million from the Government’s NZ Upgrade Programme.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall got to announce the Government has invested $7.7 million in a research innovation hub which she officially opened.

The new facility named Te Pā Harakeke Flexible Labs comprises 560 square metres of new laboratory space for research staff and is based at Callaghan Innovation’s Gracefield Innovation Quarter site in Lower Hutt.

“Innovation hubs are important catalysts of innovation where research groups are co-located to promote collaboration,” Verrall said.

“We want to see a more connected, resilient and adaptable research, science and innovation sector and this is a key aim of our system-wide review of the sector through the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways programme.”

The new state-of-the-art facilities are a prime example of the positive changes are already underway in the sector, Verrall said.

Te Pā Harakeke will be occupied by Callaghan Innovation’s partner the Ferrier Research Institute.

The Institute is a team of carbohydrate, analytical and bio-chemistry experts and will work on site with lipid nanoparticles to build research and manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines and related technologies.

“This will help strengthen our vaccine research capability, including resilience against infectious diseases.

“Earlier this year, the Government announced a $40.7 million investment to create a platform to grow our domestic RNA research base and connect this with industry to facilitate the production of new vaccines, treatments and diagnostics that can support wellbeing and better health outcomes for New Zealanders. As well as responding to COVID-19 this has the exciting potential to begin to address the treatment of cancers as well as neuro-degenerative diseases.”

The Government is also boosting the country’s pandemic resilience and preparedness for future pandemics in other areas such as through our $36 million investment in an Infectious Diseases Research Platform. The Ferrier Research Institute is contributing to this work.

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