How do we stem the West Coast’s population bleed? Let’s try another PGF transfusion

Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau, having dished out a few million dollars of our money in Hawke’s Bay, headed for the West Coast of the South Island.

His arrival there coincided with news that this  is the only part of the country where the population has declined, according to the latest census.

The New Zealand Herald, tapping into RNZ information, reported:

While regions such as Northland had rocketed ahead with 18 per cent growth in the five years to 2018, the coast’s population had slipped by 1.8 per cent, close to where it was 13 years ago.

The region’s flat-lining population was all the more worrying because of the fall in the number of children aged 15 or younger – down 9 per cent since 2013.

Hmm.  How can Tabuteau help?

 With more handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund, silly.   Continue reading “How do we stem the West Coast’s population bleed? Let’s try another PGF transfusion”

Food firms (which don’t seem to be ill-nourished) get a lick at funding from the PGF

Food innovation and greater employment opportunities are the focus for the latest Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investments – more than $14 million worth this time – for Hawke’s Bay.

The announcement by Parliamentary Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau triggered the Point of Order Trough Monitor.

The breakdown shows:

  • Hawke’s Bay Food Innovation Hub – $12 million
  • Te Ara Mahi Funded projects
    • Ngāti Pāhauwera Training and Employment Project – $1.359 million
    • Turners and Growers Emerging Leaders Pathways – $557,000
  • Apollo Foods – $300,000

Continue reading “Food firms (which don’t seem to be ill-nourished) get a lick at funding from the PGF”

If the eucalyptus crop doesn’t deliver, folks, don’t fret – Jones and the PGF or a tree fund may come to the rescue

Shane Jones might just as well be given the Maori Development portfolio, considering the money he dishes out for Maori developmental purposes.

The money comes from taxpayer-provided funds under his control as Minister of Forestry and of Regional Economic Development.

Distributing this is hard work, requiring him to dash around the provinces to make speeches to draw attention to his – and his government’s – beneficence.

He was in the Bay of Plenty early this week and then flew into Gisborne.

One of his announcements –  in the Bay of Plenty – suggests he is by no means wary of helping out when a previous venture has faltered.  He mentioned Crown Forestry investments in properties where eucalyptus crops “failed to realise an income for the landowners”.

Besides announcing new handouts, Jones enjoys reminding people of how their communities are benefitting from handouts previously announced.

While in the Gisborne region, for example, he gave an account of how funding from the $137 million Tairāwhiti roading package has been spent.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor registered these recent announcements:

8  JULY 2019

Māori realising land aspirations through the One Billion Trees programme

Forestry Minister Shane Jones says Crown Forestry will invest $5 million in two joint ventures that will result in 330 hectares of land converted to productive forests.

The first joint venture is 194 hectares owned by Pukahukiwi Kaokaoroa 2 Incorporation while a further 141 hectares is owned by Waipapa 2B2 Ahu Whenua Trust.

These properties included eucalyptus crops which failed to realise an income for the landowners.

“One of the core goals of the One Billion Trees Programme is supporting Māori to realise their land aspirations. This goes right to the heart of that.

“Not only will these partnerships create an income for the trusts through rental and a share of the profits at harvest, there is also potential to upskill workers to eventually take over management of the forest from the Crown.”

Up to 235,000 trees will be planted on these two properties this season, with land preparation now under way.

This brings Crown Forestry’s investment in the Bay of Plenty to $6.3 million and lifts the total number of joint ventures in New Zealand to 25, totalling over 15, 000 hectares.

8 JULY 2019

One Billion Trees supporting native seedlings research

Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced the One Billion Trees Programme is providing a funding boost of $422,500 for research – led by Scion in partnership with other Bay of Plenty organisations – to identify more effective native seedling propagation techniques and technology.

 “The aim is to understand what is and isn’t working and address those key issues including seedling survivability and how to create more efficient ways to produce good quality native seedlings.

“There’s also the potential to see a more environmentally friendly approach to seedling production through the use of paper wrap instead of the usual plastic wrap – reducing waste in the industry”.

Scion’s aim is to ensure its research into improving native seedling propagation is scalable and available to the industry at large, Jones said.

The project is led by Scion, working in partnership with Treeline Native Nursery, Minginui Nursery Ngati Whare Holdings, Te Tipu Wai Trust, Ellepot Denmark, Rotorua Lakes District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The research proposal has identified four key issues and opportunities to be developed further, these are:

  1. Slow production cycle for native trees
  2. Logistics and costs of seed collections
  3. Tree establishment and plant quality
  4. Nursery productivity

The key goals are:

  • To improve propagation techniques and technologies, demonstrate methods that are scalable within the nursery sector.
  • Share research findings available to the industry at large, including native plant and forestry nurseries, through published reports, talks and workshops delivered at Scion and through New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated (NZPPI).

 8 JULY 2019

PGF invests in game changing initiatives for the Bay of Plenty

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the Provincial Growth Fund will invest in two pioneering business proposals.

Geo40 Limited will receive $15 million from the PGF, made up of a loan and convertible note, to build and operate a large scale extraction plant at the Ohaaki geothermal site near Taupo, while Eco Gas Limited Partnerships will receive a $7 million loan to build a demonstration biogas plant in Reporoa.

The technology developed by Geo40 is a world first that enables silica to be extracted from fluids that have been used to generate geothermal electricity, Jones said.  Once the silica is extracted, the geothermal water is returned to the reservoir.

The extracted silica will be exported for use in products overseas, such as paint, concrete and paper making.

Geo40 has already invested in the construction of a small commercial demonstration silica removal plant in Ohaaki. The new plant will be seven times bigger, with PGF funding going towards the plant’s commissioning and construction.

The extraction process may be extended to other geothermal plants.

Support for Eco Gas to build a full-scale demonstration biogas plant will result in energy, carbon dioxide and nutrients recovered from some of the 327,000 tonnes of food waste that goes to landfills each year in New Zealand.

Biogas plants are common overseas, particularly in Europe, but this will be the first waste-to-energy plant of this scale in New Zealand. The biogas produced can be used for fuel, and could help achieve our carbon emission targets.

If it proves commercially successful, it has the potential to act as catalyst for others being set up in regions nationwide, Jones said.

The proposed Reporoa Organic Waste Recovery Facility will be built on two hectares of land owned by T&G Global (formerly Turners and Growers), adjacent to their tomato glasshouse operation. T&G Global will buy the renewable energy from EcoGas and also supply its own organic wastes.

The facility will take more than 20,000 tonnes of organic food waste a year from major local food manufacturers such as dairy factories, commercial bakeries, cool stores, milk sheds and fruit grading facilities to convert into biogas.

“These initiatives are consistent with the Government’s plan to build our productivity, by embracing innovative projects which have significant potential to deliver both economic and environmental benefits. It’s great that the regions can be at the forefront of this,” Shane Jones said.

10 JULY 2019

PGF further supports Tairāwhiti’s economic growth

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the Provincial Growth Fund is investing $27.1 million in addition to the $152 million already committed to the Tairawhiti region.

The investments will be in projects to support medical research, wood processing and social enterprise.

The three initiatives receiving funding today are:

  • Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence – $19.5 million
  • Matai Medical Research Institute – $6 million
  • Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust – $2 million

Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence

The Eastland Community Trust is set to receive its first funding instalment this month for the Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence. The Centre is being developed as a hub for wood processing, wood products, marketing and distribution, and training and research.

The first funding tranche will be for $5 million and will generate at least 30 full-time jobs.

The $19.5 million investment will lead to higher-value forestry products being produced and more money going back into the community via pay packets for local workers.

The PGF invested $500,000 to the centre in 2018 for its first stage of development.

Matai Medical Research Institute

Matai Medical Research Institute plans to establish a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) lab in Gisborne to get a better understanding of the brain, heart and body, with a focus on the fast-emerging field of traumatic brain injury.

The institute will bring up to 25 new jobs and economic stimulus to the region and undertake research with the potential to contribute to knowledge in the area of brain trauma and its effects on crime, unemployment and mental health.

The institute, to be located at Gisborne Hospital,  is committed to being based in Gisborne and has international interest and a desire from a number of international researchers to work with it.

Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust

Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust will receive up to $2 million to scale up and maximise its food harvesting and processing through the construction of a food processing facility to help get more long-term unemployed people into jobs.

The trust employs about 22 people in a variety of roles and provides pastoral care to keep people in work.  The funding will enable it to accelerate its training and place long-term unemployed people, or those not in education, employment or training into jobs and on the path to independence.

10 JULY 2019

PGF accelerates road upgrades in Tairāwhiti

Regional Economic Development Shane Jones said significant progress had been made on the delivery of the $137 million Tairāwhiti roading package, which was announced in September last year.

The Gisborne District Council data show 97 jobs have been created, thanks to the investment in roads.

Earlier this month he announced the start of work on the $4.5 million upgrade of Rakaiatane Rd – the access road to Gisborne’s port. The main part of this work is now complete with the two kilometre length of road now resealed.

The PGF has also funded the upgrade of roads in Gisborne’s inner city – the first major facelift of the city’s roads since 1999.

Work to resurface inner city roads is now complete after being enabled by PGF investment, which enabled the Gisborne District Council to rapidly scale-up this work.

Support from the PGF and the National Land Transport Fund has enabled the sealed part of Waimata Valley Rd to be extended by two kilometres, making it more resilient and reliable after previously experiencing regular washouts.

The PGF is also investing $3.3 million for heavy metalling projects across Gisborne’s road network; about $1 million worth of work has been completed.

Heavy metalling will be a huge improvement for logging operators who have in the past had to deal with large potholes and corrugates on roads.

The PGF has funded an additional 1800 tonnes of heavy metal which has been laid onto rural East Coast roads.

“The delivery of these roading projects shows the impact of the PGF – without which the scale and speed of delivery would not have been possible.  Local people can see and understand the impact of these investments, which are lifting pride and morale across the region,” Shane Jones said.

 10 JULY 2019

Provincial Growth Fund supports more full-time orchard jobs

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced the Provincial Growth Fund will help a Gisborne orchard expand its business and put hard-to-place unemployed into year-round permanent jobs.

The family-owned Riverland Fruit Company Limited will receive a $1.9 million commercial loan to expand its operation and a grant, over three years, of $1.663 million from the PGF-funded skills and employment programme, Te Ara Mahi. The funding will be used to take on 38 additional trainees.

Riverland has 12 trainees on its books, receiving on-the-job skills training and pastoral care. The PGF funding will accelerate this programme, allowing 38 trainees to be taken on. Riverland aims to continue to employ 36 of the trainees at the end of the course.

Jackson says Tairawhiti has an above- average rate of young people not in employment, education or training, as well as a persistent long-term unemployed population.

The training will includes study at the Eastland Institute of Technology (EIT), with a goal for participants to graduate with level 2 qualifications.



Hawke’s Bay gets a $68.3 million fillip from the PGF – and there’s more to come

The latest handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund were announced today as “a suite” of investments comprising transport infrastructure, digital connectivity, water storage, and skills and employment in the Hawke’s Bay region.

Suite? Or sweets?

This has been a lolly scramble.

Some of the $68.3 million is racially tagged with handouts from the PGF’s Whenua Māori programme.

The Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, today issued four separate press statements.

Environment Minister David Parker got in on the act with one of the announcements to deliver an assurance about investments in two water storage initiatives, an aquifer mapping project, and a region-wide water assessment project “to better understand the region’s wider water needs”.

These projects are unlike the highly controversial Ruataniwha scheme, he said – they will assist the conversion of livestock farms to horticulture.

But wait – there’s more.  Further investments in industry-led activities in the Hawke’s Bay region will be announced in the coming months. Continue reading “Hawke’s Bay gets a $68.3 million fillip from the PGF – and there’s more to come”

Southland is doing nicely, thank you – and vegans should approve the land-use changes

Despite what  business  confidence  surveys  say,  the  NZ  economy  is  plugging along   steadily and  city-dwellers   may  not  have noticed  how  well  the   farming  industries have been   doing.

ANZ economists, surveying  the  country’s  primary   industries  this week,  talked  of   “elevated  returns”   at  the  farm  (or orchard)  gate.

They  say global economic concerns are yet to be felt in the  regions, with commodity prices generally very strong at present. Export prices  for  dairy products have steadily increased with the GDT price index gaining 24% since early December,  and  the  ANZ team  is  forecasting a $6.40/kg milksolid  price for the current season and a $7.30kg/MS price for next season.

They   also  note  returns  for  export  lamb   have been   very favourable,  with China  now  the largest  market  for  NZ  lamb  and mutton  (though   they  say  a  disorderly  Brexit  could be   disruptive for  the  trade to  the UK and European  markets). Continue reading “Southland is doing nicely, thank you – and vegans should approve the land-use changes”

NZ First Ministers bring more millions to nurture projects in their home patch

Having dished out $3.2m for transport infrastructure in Opononi, New Zealand First MPs were left with plenty more ballot-boosting pixie dust to sprinkle around their home patch of Northland yesterday.

Before your blogging team had finished lunch, the Point of Order Trough Monitor had registered four more Beehive press releases about public funding being dispensed to the locals.

One of the releases was a speech delivered in Hokianga by NZ First leader and Deputy PM Winston Peters in which he tallied the day’s handouts and declared:

“It’s great to be here today in Hokianga supporting the First Citizen of the Provinces, Shane Jones to make the latest funding announcements for Northland.

$18.5m for water storage in Northland, digital connectivity for marae and two Forestry Joint Ventures for the region – these are initiatives that will make a difference to people’s lives.” Continue reading “NZ First Ministers bring more millions to nurture projects in their home patch”

Oh look – we are not alone in watching how the $3 billion PGF trough is being emptied

The Point of Order Trough Monitor isn’t alone in keeping an eye on Shane Jones and his coalition government colleagues as they dish out oodles of vote-nurturing dollars from the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

Treasury officials, working within spitting distance of the Beehive (when the wind is in the right direction), do their scrutinising before PGF announcements are made.

It seems they don’t share Jones’ enthusiasm in all cases and can get a bit antsy about some proposals.

No matter.  In the upshot, it’s the government that decides how taxpayers’ money should be dispensed.

And governments aren’t obliged to heed the advice of Treasury number-crunchers or any other critique of PGF investments, grants or whatever.

A good example has provided fodder for headline writers in recent days, including this from Newshub: Continue reading “Oh look – we are not alone in watching how the $3 billion PGF trough is being emptied”

The Trough Monitor – Jones shells out big-time on mussels (among other things)

The Point of Order Trough Monitor had a frenetic morning,  as three press statements from the Beehive alerted us to Shane Jones dipping yet again into the Provincial Growth Fund. He got a grip on $25 million and tossed it at the Bay of Plenty.

The great bulk of it – up to $19,850,000 – is pitched at projects to develop “a sustainable mussel farming operation in Ōpōtiki”.

Jones, the country’s beneficent Regional Economic Development Minister, mentioned the Maori god of the sea while trying to explain his generosity.  Taxpayers money, it seems, is being put to the dubious purpose of appeasing or mollifying the creatures of Maori mythology.

But as a reassuring reminder he indeed is operating in the 21st century, Jones also declared an intention to improve “connectivity” in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. This seems to have something to do with information technology: the press statement contains jargon such as RBI2 and MBSF.
Continue reading “The Trough Monitor – Jones shells out big-time on mussels (among other things)”