Govt chips in for boarding schools and a seaweed venture – and there’s some left over for hydrogen research

Buzz from the Beehive

Promoting the wellbeing of Māori is the common factor in three of the latest four Beehive announcements.

The government is providing

  • $14.9 million (from of the $20 million Budget 2021 investment into the Māori Boarding Schools initiative) to four Māori boarding schools; and
  • $750,000 of support for a $1.5 million project in Paeroa in the Waikato its Regional Strategic Partnership Fund. Nine jobs will be created.  That’s around $83,000 for each job.  

A third press statement tells of the official launch in Kaitaia of

“… a new partnership strategy aimed at putting the decision-making and support for children in need in the hands of the community…”

TE ATATŪ, formed in partnership with Te Kahu Oranga Whānau and Oranga Tamariki, is the first such development since the Government set a new direction for the agency and covers all frontline work.

Iwi and community organisations will become more involved in decision making from the outset in an initiative which

“… is expected to see a reduction in the number of children in care by using community relationships to intervene earlier and more effectively.”

Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis recalled that several turbulent years for Oranga Tamariki led to an independent Advisory Board being appointed to determine what needed to change.

All its recommendations were accepted

One key point was “to empower the community to care for children in need.”

“For too long Oranga Tamariki has put itself at the centre of this work. The community knows what is best for its children but has not had the power or resources needed to make those decisions itself,” Kelvin Davis said.

But is the whole community to be involved?  Or just part of it?

The question is raised by the press statement saying TE ATATŪ builds on the strategic partnership Oranga Tamariki already has in place in Te Hiku o Te Ika with Te Kahu Oranga Whānau, a collaboration of Iwi, Hapū and Māori providers including Waitomo Papakainga Society Inc, Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, Te Whare Ruruhau, O Meri, and Tuhiata Mahi Ora.

“This existing relationship has enabled Te Kahu Oranga Whānau and Oranga Tamariki to move quickly and work is progressing on how to shift to a shared management and delivery of work in the region. Similar announcements and agreements will follow soon as each region across Aotearoa works out the best approach.”

Davis does recognise that what is effective in Te Hiku might not be transferrable to – let’s say- Taumarunui.

“So, its important Oranga Tamariki works closely with each community.

“Oranga Tamariki is on a journey towards a community-led, regionally enabled, and nationally supported way of working, a way that is truly tamariki and whānau centred,” Kelvin Davis said.

The Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson – taking time out from tinkering with our democratic institutions – announced the allocation of $14.9 million among four Māori boarding schools.

The funding allocation for each school was determined with an emphasis on resolving critical infrastructure issues. Each school needed significant work to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment in line with current regulations. Accordingly, each school will receive the following investment:

  • St Joseph Māori Girls’ College – $6.2 million
  • Hato Pāora College – $2.7 million
  • Te Aute College – $5.0 million
  • Hukarere Girls’ College – $981,300

“Upgrading the critical facilities for these kura is crucial to ensuring they can continue to nurture rangatahi Māori leaders and provide quality education,’ Willie Jackson said.

Some of those schools are dipping in for a second helping.

Previous payments of $2,337,000 were made in 2021/22 to Hato Pāora and St Joseph’s as part of the initiative to address urgent works.

Then there’s the investment of $750,000  intended to help Māori-owned AgriSea New Zealand, a family company producing biostimulants from native seaweed for horticulture and agriculture industries, to expand and diversify its plant and produce commercial volumes of nanocellulose hydrogel.

The product can be used in bio-composites, cosmetics, wound care and tissue engineering. The seaweed nanocellulose differs from tree-based sources and will supply a growing market both in New Zealand and offshore.

Significantly, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said AgriSea has been operating successfully for 26 years and is already a recognised leader in seaweed and agricultural products.

It’s need for help from the taxpayer – you might suspect – is not too desperate.

But Nash obviously thinks a contribution from taxpayers will be well spent.

He said of the company:

“Its strong commitment and investment in research and development of this new product, in partnership with Crown Research Institute Scion, is shining a light on the exciting potential of the Marine economy.

“Investing in AgriSea not only supports local job creation, but will help grow our regional economies and allow regional businesses to continue to innovate.

“The project aligns with the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy and its goal to reach $3 billion in annual sales by 2035. “The initiative also supports Waikato’s strategic regional economic development priorities of sustainable food and agriculture,” Stuart Nash said.

The Regional Strategic Partnership Fund (RSPF) is the most recent of the six regional economic development funds administered by Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit (Kānoa – RDU).

RSPF aims to support regional economies

“… to become more productive, resilient, inclusive, sustainable and Māori-enabling by delivering local approaches tailored to regions’ particular needs and advantages.”

More information on the RSPF can be found in Kānoa – RDU’s ‘Grow Regions’ website.

Point of Order noted one ministerial press statement which did not mention Māori beneficiaries.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Ayesha Verrall announced  a green hydrogen research programme has been established with Germany to support New Zealand’s move towards a more sustainable, low-emissions economy.

 The key points:

  • $6million investment in research into three green hydrogen projects
  • New Zealand research teams now able to access European green hydrogen research facilities and expertise

The New Zealand-Germany Green Hydrogen research programme will result in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the German Ministry of Education and Research jointly investing in significant green hydrogen research. 

The government is investing $6 million in three projects with each receiving $2 million over three years.

An element of hope rather than certainty is reflected in Verrall’s statement:

“Green hydrogen could be an important part of the clean energy mix needed to ensure a sustainable future.

“It could help us to reach our goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and to transition to a clean, green and carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Meanwhile, an equivalent German fund will provide funding for German green hydrogen research projects. 

Latest from the Beehive

17 AUGUST 2022

Seaweed innovator wins Government support

The Government is continuing to make regional economies stronger and more resilient with investment in a project that will likely create the world’s first commercial seaweed-based nanocellulose manufacturing plant.

First community led Oranga Tamariki partnership announced

A new partnership strategy aimed at putting the decision-making and support for children in need in the hands of the community has been officially launched in Kaitaia.

16 AUGUST 2022

Government partners with Germany to invest in green hydrogen research

A green hydrogen research programme has been established with Germany will support Aotearoa New Zealand’s move towards a more sustainable, low-emissions economy.

$14.9m allocated to Māori boarding school upgrades

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson today announced the allocation of the remaining $14.9 million of the $20 million Budget 2021 investment into the Māori Boarding Schools initiative.

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