Welcome to Invercargill, Minister Jones – and we are delighted you haven’t come empty-handed

Yes, folks, Moneybags Minister has travelled the length of the country while dispensing  his goodies in the past week.

He was on his home patch of Northland last Friday (we reported his announcements here).

Today he is in Invercargill.

Mind you, he visits Northland much more regularly than he visits Southland.

He had been in Kaikohe on July 1 to launch a five-month intensive pilot initiative to prepare mostly young women for training and employment in the forestry sector.  The Provincial Growth Fund has invested $421,050 in the venture.

In June he grabbed the opportunity to celebrate the official opening of the new Bay of Island Airport terminal and the completion of the first stage of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Whangārei. Continue reading “Welcome to Invercargill, Minister Jones – and we are delighted you haven’t come empty-handed”

Questions are raised about the PGF and its promise of provincial rejuvenation

Regional  Economic  Development  Minister  Shane  Jones has  one of  the  great  jobs  in  modern  NZ   politics.   He’s  in   charge  of  spending the  $3bn  Provincial  Growth  Fund,  which  NZ  First  extracted from Labour  as   part of  its  coalition  negotiation.

Already  $2bn   has  been  committed,  and  the fund  is expected to allocate  the  remaining  $1bn  before  next  year’s general  election.

Job  done.

And  the  provinces, the theory goes,  will be  so grateful   they  will ensure   NZ  First  gets  back  to Parliament to  deliver a  repeat dose  post- 2020

Or will  they?

Shane Jones has  certainly  generated a  constant  flow of  headlines,  but  will the benefits to the provinces  yield  sustained  economic development,   and  produce a  renaissance  in the  provincial  cities?  Will  the   economic  benefits  be  solid  enough to  filter down to  the  average  resident  in the  supposedly  deprived  regions? Continue reading “Questions are raised about the PGF and its promise of provincial rejuvenation”

Goodies for Northland: the gravy train – and Shane – ride in again

Yesterday was Friday so Shane Jones and his bag(s) of goodies should have been in ….

Oh, yes.  Back on his home patch of Northland and (no surprise) he returned to distribute  money.

Meningitis was there, too, as a political rival , Whangarei MP Shane Reti, pointed out.

An agenda item for next week’s Northland District Health Board meeting confirms that there has been another case of Meningitis W in Northland, Reti said in a press statement. 

“This brings the total to two this year after a seven month old child contracted the disease earlier in the year. There were seven cases of Meningitis W in Northland last year and an outbreak was declared on 8 November, resulting in one death.”

Reti had “grave concerns” that meningitis would flare up again over winter.

He called for the Ministry of Health to release the thousands of unused meningitis vaccines “that are slowly expiring” and make them immediately available free of charge to all Northland children. Continue reading “Goodies for Northland: the gravy train – and Shane – ride in again”

Mangatu is “thriving” – but hey, Jones has got to invest our money somewhere so let’s give them a fillip anyway

Its businesses are “thriving”, according to the Mangatu Maori Incorporation website.

That was before Shane Jones’ arrival in the Gisborne region this week to distribute several million dollars of public money – among other recipients, to the thriving Mangatu Maori Incorporation.

He invited other Maori – sorry, he encouraged other Maori – to have a lick at the rich swill he is providing through the One Billion Trees Programme:

 ” … I am encouraging more Māori to come forward to partner with the Government through this initiative,” Shane Jones said.

The One Billion Trees Fund, launched in November 2018,  offers grants to landowners – particularly Māori and farmers – to encourage integration of trees into existing land use.

“It will create economic, social and environmental benefits and support Maori to realise the potential of their land.”

Having plenty of your own money should not be an impediment to applying, it seems.

The Mangatu incorporation’s website gives a measure of what “thriving” means.

The latest financial results we could find there were for the year to September 30 2017.

These show a net profit before tax of $13.9m (compared with $18.6m the previous year) and net assets of $193.6m (up from  $183m).
Continue reading “Mangatu is “thriving” – but hey, Jones has got to invest our money somewhere so let’s give them a fillip anyway”

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.

 

 

Value-add is sidelined while Jones enthuses about railways and export logs

Just as we anticipated, Shane Jones left the Kapiti Coast yesterday and crossed the Rimutakas to distribute more largesse from the Provincial Growth Fund in the Wairarapa.

He did not travel by train (so far as we know), but he spoke as Associate Minister of Transport to extol the virtues of rail transport and explained why PGF goodies were being invested in KiwiRail and rail hubs.

He also spoke as Minister of Forestry to enthuse about trees and the economic potential of logging.

Logging?

Yep. Value-add seemed to have been forgotten – the talk was about humping logs to ports by rail for shipping overseas.

Perhaps that’s why he wasn’t wearing his Regional Economic Development hat.  Economic development calls for doing something more than chopping trees down and sending logs to China. Continue reading “Value-add is sidelined while Jones enthuses about railways and export logs”

Money is dished up for the war on plastics, development in Kapiti and the promotion of te reo

It’s been a bit quiet, on the Provincial Growth Fund front. We had supposed (a) Shane Jones needed a breather from ladelling out money up and down the country; (b) the PGF trough needed replenishing; or (c) a mix of both.

We were caught napping, therefore,when the Point of Order Trough Monitor was triggered by a flurry of announcements.

First, in tandem with Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, he announced a $40 million allocation from the PGF for investment in projects to tackle waste. Officials are being despatched to look for suitable recipients.

Then Jones headed for Otaki where the good people of the Kapiti Coast learned they are in the money.  Or a few of them are and the money is modest.  Perhaps they are at the wrong end of the North Island. Continue reading “Money is dished up for the war on plastics, development in Kapiti and the promotion of te reo”