Govt is safeguarding Treaty grounds (for $3m) but Hipkins may be embroiled in spat about when he can talk about it

Buzz from the Beehive

Politicians keen to curry favour with Māori tribal leaders have headed north for Waitangi weekend.  More than a few million dollars of public funding are headed north, too.

Not all of this money is being trumpeted on the Beehive website, the Government’s official website.

Just one ministerial statement was posted there yesterday, to tell of “multiple housing investments” delivering thousands of new homes for the people living in “multiple Northland communities”.

This nicely buttered bit of Beehive beneficence was brayed by Housing Minister Megan Woods.

But Carmel Sepuloni, as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, more coyly was investing in Northland too. She despatched a press statement headed Government Investment Safeguards Waitangi Treaty Grounds which said: 

The Government is supporting one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant historic sites, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, as it continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

The sum involved – $3 million – is not mentioned until the last sentence of the statement.

Sepuloni does the justifying first, to emphasise this handout is  “critical” (in an election year, lest you hadn’t noticed).

“The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a taonga that we should protect and look after. This additional support will mean people can continue to embrace, learn about and enjoy the strands, stories and experiences of the treaty grounds and the history it represents,” Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni said.

“It is critical we invest now to ensure the economic recovery of the region, while supporting one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant historic sites.

“The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a key visitor and tourist attraction in Northland. Tourism accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the region’s employment and approximately 7 per cent of the region’s GDP pre-COVID.

“We also know that strong tourism in the regions means greater support for hundreds of businesses. Tourism spending in the region was in excess of $1.1 billion pre-COVID, and this is something we want to continue to grow and nurture.”

Sepuloni bandied “pre-Covid” figures that show more than 113,000 visitors visited the Treaty Grounds and nearly 10,000 students were able to learn about the grounds by visiting.

Without producing other figures regarding Northland and visitors to the region, she reasoned:

“It’s clear that Waitangi is the Northland region’s single greatest attraction which is why this investment will ensure the Trust are fully equipped to care for the Treaty Grounds for future visitors, students and generations to enjoy.

“Cruise ships have started to return to the Bay of Islands, and visitor numbers are gradually starting to increase. Supporting the Trust will help them to make the most of the return of tourists and contribute to the Northland economy,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

And finally:

$3 million is being repriortised in a one-off investment to support the Waitangi National Trust Board.

The statement was not posted on the Beehive website but can be found on the Scoop website. 

Megan Woods’ statement emphasises a commendable confidence not that she hopes to foment radical change in the region but that she will succeed in doing so –

Government Northland housing investment to spark transformational change

Multiple Northland communities will benefit from multiple Government housing investments, delivering thousands of new homes for locals.

 Commendably, too, Woods introduced dollar figures to the bullet points at the beginning of the press statement –

    • Over $10 million infrastructure funding to unlock housing in Whangārei
    • The purchase of a 3.279 hectare site in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes
    • Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals

Hmm.  “Over $10 million…” to “unlock” housing in Whangarei.  How much over?

Woods is not coy:

$10.3 million for critical infrastructure in Whangārei

Key transport upgrades in Whangārei will get $10.3 million from the Government’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund (IAF) – unlocking more land to build thousands of new homes.

“The investment is expected to open up approximately 160 hectares of greenfield land, allowing for up to 3,000 new homes across multiple sites in the city. Up to 1,000 of these are expected to be delivered over the next 10 to 15 years, and up to 2,000 in the longer-term,” said Megan Woods.

“The projects in Whangārei include a new bridge to replace a single-lane timber bridge in Kamo, which has stalled development plans to date, and a new roundabout on State Highway One with an arterial road and shared user path, connecting sites in Springs Flat with services, education and job opportunities.  

This announcement – she reminds voters – brings the combined IAF investment in the North to $58.9 million, following earlier IAF investments last November for Kaikohe and Kawakawa.

In total, 14 critical infrastructure projects in Northland will be supported by IAF funding,” Megan Woods said.

The next part of her press statement does not mention the cost:

More affordable homes for Kerikeri

“I am also pleased to announce that the Government has bought a 3.279 hectare site at 57A Hall Road in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes to be built, adding a considerable supply of affordable homes in an area with a significant housing shortage.

“Kerikeri, like other parts of the region, has experienced rapid growth in recent years creating high housing need. This purchase provides a marvellous opportunity to do something significant to ramp up supply quickly, as it is one of very few development-ready sites within the Far North.”

This Government has vowed to focus on the bread and butter issues. Woods says, to remind us of the policy redirection instigated by the new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins.

At least 30 per cent of the site will be either public housing, or homes at price points that are attainable for first home buyers

The homes are expected to be delivered in early 2025.

And finally an announcement that at first blush suggests a big chunk of money is headed north:

Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals

But wait.  The Minister explains:

“We are also announcing a second round of the Affordable Rental Pathway, which will now open to the whole of New Zealand, including Northland.  It will offer $100 million in grant funding to not-for-profits to build new, affordable rentals.”

“Rising rents and living costs have put whānau under great financial stress. This funding boost recognises the urgent need for more affordable, long-term rentals for people who can’t meet the cost of a market rent but can’t access, or don’t need, public housing,” said Megan Woods.

It looks like Northland will be competing for this funding because the rest of the country will be queuing up at the trough, too.

But when will the PM get a chance to talk about this tomorrow, should he want to mention the money for the Treaty grounds or for the housing initiatives?

Newsroom reports –  

Fresh fighting over MPs’ speaking rights at Waitangi

Waitangi organisers are trying to push political leaders to the side at Sunday’s pōwhiri, but Labour’s deputy leader says it’s not for them to decide who speaks.

According to Newsroom, Te Tai Tokerau MP and Labour deputy leader, Kelvin Davis insists the Prime Minister will speak at the pōwhiri at Waitangi tomorrow, in defiance of local organisers who apparently have asked party leaders save their speeches for later in the day.


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