Government lays out plan for region

Five-year action plan aims to boost tourism, forestry and primary industries.

Five-year action plan aims to boost tourism, forestry and primary industries.

HERE FOR THE LAUNCH: Government Ministers Steven Joyce, Te Ururoa Flavell and Simon Bridges at today’s launch of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan. Picture by Paul Rickard
File picture

TOURISM, forestry and the primary industries have emerged as the initial winners in a new Government plan to boost the regional economy, halve the region’s unemployment rate and create more than 1200 new jobs by 2021.

As part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, a high-level delegation of Government ministers is in Gisborne today for the launch of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan — laying out a five-year economic development plan for the region.

Highlights of the package include a $1.8 million investment in jobs and skills training schemes to boost employment, $1.5m investment to improve the tourism experience for motorists on the East Cape, along with $2m to help fund the set-up of a new wood processing facility.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said the plan, named Te Huarahi Whai Oranga, would focus on growing tourism to attract more visitors, upgrading state highways, improving digital connection, and growing skills to help businesses “grow and thrive”.

It is linked to, and has been launched alongside, the Tairawhiti Maori Economic Development Report, which focuses on a Maori economic perspective.

“The dual launch demonstrates the desire for a regional approach to economic development and to recognise that Maori have a critical role to play in boosting economic growth,” he said.

The programme, developed in conjunction with Tairawhiti people with development led by the Tairawhiti Action Plan Governance Group, had been co-led by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the Ministry of Primary Industries, with other government agencies, to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.

The plan took 12 months of work and outlines that by 2021, if everyone works “hard together”, the region will have benefited from $68.6m in capital investment, a 12 percent increase in regional GDP, a 25 percent increase in processing and value-added production,

1220 new jobs created, halving the unemployment rate, and taking 250 people off benefits into permanent employment with a $3m reduction in benefit spend.

Erosion control

Focused heavily on primary industries, it promises to further widen the scope of the existing $30m East Coast Erosion Control Funding Programme to allow landowners to receive funding to plant a wider range of vegetation to combat erosion.

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston said she would support the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

“The Gisborne district has great potential for primary sector economic growth but in many cases erosion affects land productivity.

“The changes involve widening the scope of what can be funded by the ECFP, meaning there will be funding available for a wider range of measures that support and contribute to forestry and erosion control.

“The fund will now be able to assist community groups, iwi and other organisations with innovative ideas to reduce erosion.”

It also promised a $2m investment in the new ECT and Wood Engineering Technology joint venture, which is in the process of setting up a wood processing facility at the former Prime sawmill site.

Mr Bridges said that was “just one’’ of the initiatives announced today.

“Forestry is a major employer in the region and this funding accelerates research and development in this sector. This technology from Wood Engineering Technology Ltd ensures that even low value pulp logs, or forestry blocks on remote sites can become economically viable.”

The plan would also invest another $1.8 million over three years to grow the skills and capability of the regional labour force, including youth.

Investment in labour force

Social Development Minister and East Coast MP Anne Tolley said “significant investment” in the labour force formed a key element in the overall plan.

“Our aim is to create pathways and opportunities for people to move from education and training into employment, and improve local training opportunities to better meet the needs of the region’s employers and industry.”

The majority of the Ministry of Social Development’s Action Plan funding would be spent in year one of the five-year plan and included investment of $450,000 over three years towards supporting clients to gain their driver licence (MSD currently funds around $92,000 per year), along with $150,000 towards a co-ordinator in the horticulture sector, $280,000 towards contracts with employers and training providers to support the seasonal labour force, another $240,000 for investment in training, employment and pastoral care, $300,000 towards truck driver training, and an additional $220,000 towards a pilot to support clients to rehabilitate from drug use with a focus on gaining employment.

It also included $185,000 towards implementing Activate Tairawhiti’s Youth Employment Strategy.

Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen said he welcomed that investment in the region’s future.

“The YES announcement recognises the competitive advantage our youth offers us compared to other regions and the importance of investing in growing their talent in order to future-proof our local workforce.”

Mr Bridges added that the Government was also committed to creating an integrated transport priority plan, which would provide an opportunity for the region to help shape the transport network and find solutions to meet the needs of local customers, businesses, such as the forestry sector and tourists.

“Roads are a lifeline for the region’s community and there is a strong focus on getting products to market, especially through Eastland Port. Primary industries in general, and the forestry sector in particular, are significant contributors to the local economy. The priority plan will centre on their needs.”

Led by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), in conjunction with the council, iwi and other stakeholders, the study will ensure that robust analysis of transport options results in a plan that can enable and support the region’s economic growth initiatives. It was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the Government would fund a $1.5 million package of tourism-related roading projects on the East Coast.

“These are projects that are able to get under way soon.”

The projects to be funded are:

  • an upgrade of existing rest area facilities and the construction of up to five new facilities along the 320km State Highway 35, which stretches from Gisborne, around the East Coast and west to Opotiki,
  • sealing the East Cape Road and replacing the Horoera Bridge leading to the historic East Cape lighthouse,
  • a 7km link between the Rere Falls Heartland Ride and the Motu Great Ride.

Mayor Meng Foon paid tribute to local iwi, businesses, Gisborne District Council, Eastland Community Trust, Activate Tairawhiti and others who had made such a valuable contribution to the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

“I know a lot of work has been put into this, with good collaboration. It is great the Government is focusing on regional development and I look forward to the plan giving our region a hands-up approach.”

TOURISM, forestry and the primary industries have emerged as the initial winners in a new Government plan to boost the regional economy, halve the region’s unemployment rate and create more than 1200 new jobs by 2021.

As part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, a high-level delegation of Government ministers is in Gisborne today for the launch of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan — laying out a five-year economic development plan for the region.

Highlights of the package include a $1.8 million investment in jobs and skills training schemes to boost employment, $1.5m investment to improve the tourism experience for motorists on the East Cape, along with $2m to help fund the set-up of a new wood processing facility.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said the plan, named Te Huarahi Whai Oranga, would focus on growing tourism to attract more visitors, upgrading state highways, improving digital connection, and growing skills to help businesses “grow and thrive”.

It is linked to, and has been launched alongside, the Tairawhiti Maori Economic Development Report, which focuses on a Maori economic perspective.

“The dual launch demonstrates the desire for a regional approach to economic development and to recognise that Maori have a critical role to play in boosting economic growth,” he said.

The programme, developed in conjunction with Tairawhiti people with development led by the Tairawhiti Action Plan Governance Group, had been co-led by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the Ministry of Primary Industries, with other government agencies, to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.

The plan took 12 months of work and outlines that by 2021, if everyone works “hard together”, the region will have benefited from $68.6m in capital investment, a 12 percent increase in regional GDP, a 25 percent increase in processing and value-added production,

1220 new jobs created, halving the unemployment rate, and taking 250 people off benefits into permanent employment with a $3m reduction in benefit spend.

Erosion control

Focused heavily on primary industries, it promises to further widen the scope of the existing $30m East Coast Erosion Control Funding Programme to allow landowners to receive funding to plant a wider range of vegetation to combat erosion.

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston said she would support the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

“The Gisborne district has great potential for primary sector economic growth but in many cases erosion affects land productivity.

“The changes involve widening the scope of what can be funded by the ECFP, meaning there will be funding available for a wider range of measures that support and contribute to forestry and erosion control.

“The fund will now be able to assist community groups, iwi and other organisations with innovative ideas to reduce erosion.”

It also promised a $2m investment in the new ECT and Wood Engineering Technology joint venture, which is in the process of setting up a wood processing facility at the former Prime sawmill site.

Mr Bridges said that was “just one’’ of the initiatives announced today.

“Forestry is a major employer in the region and this funding accelerates research and development in this sector. This technology from Wood Engineering Technology Ltd ensures that even low value pulp logs, or forestry blocks on remote sites can become economically viable.”

The plan would also invest another $1.8 million over three years to grow the skills and capability of the regional labour force, including youth.

Investment in labour force

Social Development Minister and East Coast MP Anne Tolley said “significant investment” in the labour force formed a key element in the overall plan.

“Our aim is to create pathways and opportunities for people to move from education and training into employment, and improve local training opportunities to better meet the needs of the region’s employers and industry.”

The majority of the Ministry of Social Development’s Action Plan funding would be spent in year one of the five-year plan and included investment of $450,000 over three years towards supporting clients to gain their driver licence (MSD currently funds around $92,000 per year), along with $150,000 towards a co-ordinator in the horticulture sector, $280,000 towards contracts with employers and training providers to support the seasonal labour force, another $240,000 for investment in training, employment and pastoral care, $300,000 towards truck driver training, and an additional $220,000 towards a pilot to support clients to rehabilitate from drug use with a focus on gaining employment.

It also included $185,000 towards implementing Activate Tairawhiti’s Youth Employment Strategy.

Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen said he welcomed that investment in the region’s future.

“The YES announcement recognises the competitive advantage our youth offers us compared to other regions and the importance of investing in growing their talent in order to future-proof our local workforce.”

Mr Bridges added that the Government was also committed to creating an integrated transport priority plan, which would provide an opportunity for the region to help shape the transport network and find solutions to meet the needs of local customers, businesses, such as the forestry sector and tourists.

“Roads are a lifeline for the region’s community and there is a strong focus on getting products to market, especially through Eastland Port. Primary industries in general, and the forestry sector in particular, are significant contributors to the local economy. The priority plan will centre on their needs.”

Led by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), in conjunction with the council, iwi and other stakeholders, the study will ensure that robust analysis of transport options results in a plan that can enable and support the region’s economic growth initiatives. It was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the Government would fund a $1.5 million package of tourism-related roading projects on the East Coast.

“These are projects that are able to get under way soon.”

The projects to be funded are:

  • an upgrade of existing rest area facilities and the construction of up to five new facilities along the 320km State Highway 35, which stretches from Gisborne, around the East Coast and west to Opotiki,
  • sealing the East Cape Road and replacing the Horoera Bridge leading to the historic East Cape lighthouse,
  • a 7km link between the Rere Falls Heartland Ride and the Motu Great Ride.

Mayor Meng Foon paid tribute to local iwi, businesses, Gisborne District Council, Eastland Community Trust, Activate Tairawhiti and others who had made such a valuable contribution to the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

“I know a lot of work has been put into this, with good collaboration. It is great the Government is focusing on regional development and I look forward to the plan giving our region a hands-up approach.”

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Richard Sceats - 2 months ago
Interesting that there is not one mention of rail in this report. Getting the railway line open again would give the biggest boost to the economic development of Tairawhiti. Sadly this will not happen under this government which is only interested in roads.

Jason Ward Allen - 2 months ago
What a joke, the East Cape road was supposed to be improved by October 2016. Cycleways are good for a few, and we are only holding our own with SH35.
We also have a huge number of unemplyable people in Gisborne. People who no one in their right mind would want to give a job to.

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