What we're doing for New Zealand's regions

On 23 February, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones officially launched the new $1 billion per annum Provincial Growth Fund.

Since then, we are already seeing massive progress in the development of our regions – and we’re only just getting started!

Take a look at just some of the things our Coalition Government has managed to achieve for the people of regional New Zealand.

We’re investing in Northland.

  • Working with the people of Northland in creating jobs, housing, transport, and businesses with a $46 million investment package, including investment in warm, dry housing in Whangarei, Kaikohe, and Kaitaia.
  • Unlocking the potential for Northland's rail, by investigating the expansion of the North Auckland rail line, boosting the region's export potential.
  • Boosting the Twin Coast Discovery Route, ensuring locals and visitors have a safe and pleasurable experience through Northland.
  • Introducing a trial for rent-to-own home ownership to assist low-income whānau in Kaitaia to move towards owning their own home.
  • Providing support for two cultural centres in Opononi and Whangarei, exploring a new market in the Tōtara forestry sector, and constructing a new tourism hub in Kawakawa.
  • Creating a long-awaited roading project to greatly improve safety, reduce congestion and support the overall economic growth of Northland.
  • Addressing infrastructure deficits, diversifying the regional economy and enhancing the tourism opportunities that exist in Northland.
  • Providing much-needed investment in three major Northland wharves – Opoua, Paihia, and Russell – to boost tourism and create jobs.
  • Developing a comprehensive Upper North Island Supply Chain Study to make sure our supply chain is fit-for-purpose.
  • Strengthening public services and infrastructure in Kaipara to pave the way for future economic growth.

We’re future-proofing Taranaki.

  • Implementing the Taranaki Regional Economic Development action plan to diversify the region’s economy and create additional jobs.
  • Funding the development of a digital tool for farmers to assess the viability of planting trees on Taranaki hill country farms.
  • Determining the value of State Highway 43 - better known as the Forgotten World Highway - to Taranaki’s economy, particularly in the tourism sector.
  • Identifying and prioritising major food-related opportunities in the region, as well as help establish the viability of establishing a Taranaki food network.
  • Transforming Taranaki’s Cathedral into a nationally significant tourist drawcard.
  • Helping accelerate the TaranakiPine sawmill project from pilot stage to a full commercial operation, which in turn will help retain their 170 staff and generate new jobs.

We’re boosting tourism and forestry opportunities in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

  • Investing in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay to immediately boost tourism and forestry opportunities.
  • Redeveloping Gisborne Inner Harbour.
  • Funding a programme to commemorate the first encounters between Māori and Europeans.
  • Kick-starting the creation of a $20 million Wood Processing Centre of Excellence in Gisborne, which will create 167 jobs.
  • Backing KiwiRail to reopen the Wairoa-Napier line for logging trains.
  • Planting Mānuka trees to support a recirculating wetland to filter water on 80 hectares of land next to the Whakaki Lake in the Wairoa district.

We're investing in Tairāwhiti's transport system.

  • Unlocking Tairāwhiti’s economic potential by creating stronger, safer and more resilient transport connections.
  • Improving the connections between the region and major transport hubs and markets.
  • Safeguarding visitor and business access to the region.
  • Generating employment and skills development opportunities through a stable pipeline of construction work over a sustained period and increased investments in the region.
  • Enabling Māori to better participate in the economy.

We’re revitalising the Manawatū-Whanganui region.

  • Revitalising the Whanganui Port precinct, which will help bring in new businesses and rejuvenate the region – with an expected 160 new jobs created.
  • Updating the Whanganui rail line, improving the resilience of the line and supporting KiwiRail in moving the growing export volumes of both dairy products and logs.
  • Establishing a national commercial driver programme.
  • Establishing an advanced Aviation Hub at Whanganui Airport.

We're backing Otago and the West Coast.

  • Investing in Dunedin's Waterfront Project, a bold plan that will include a hotel and residential accomodation, and will connect the town centre, the university and the stadium with walkways, cycleways and a bridge. 
  • Developing Otago's Economic Development Strategy, which will allow wider Otago to identify areas of common interest and assess all opportunities for the long term, while supporting council groups across the region to work together, and making sure we avoid doubling up on work or costs.
  • Backing the West Coast, looking into a number of kickstart investments including an upgrade of the Westport Port and the Port of Greymouth, to better increase economic activity in the region. 
  • Investigating a new passenger rail service between Westport and Hokitika, which has huge potential for West Coast tourism numbers.
  • Developing the town of Greymouth alongside further development of the Punakaiki community. 
  • Undertaking dredging work of the slipway and lagoon at Greymouth Port to ensure fishing boats access in low tide. 

We’re boosting employment in the regions nationwide.

  • Supporting people to learn the skills needed for local jobs while also helping employers meet their growing labour force needs, through specific funding for programmes in five regions - Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay and Manawatū-Whanganui. These 'surge' regions face particular challenges including high unemployment, low wages and lower productivity compared to the rest of New Zealand. Additional funding will be allocated to non-surge regions.
  • Investing in two specific programmes that support Māori and Pasifika - He Poutama Rangatahi and the expansion of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ successful Pacific Employment Support Service. Both programmes target rangatahi who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).

We’re embracing the possibilities of clean energy and technology.

  • Building a plan to develop Taranaki into a world-leader in clean energy, following the gradual transition away from oil and gas.
  • Investigating the establishment of a New Energy Development Centre in Taranaki, with additional funding towards helping advance the take-up of hydrogen technologies in the region.  
  • Funding the development of a digital tool for farmers to assess the viability of planting trees on Taranaki hill country farms.
  • Loaning Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd funding for the construction of a high-speed gondola on the Whakapapa ski field, estimated to attract 500,000 additional visitor days by 2025, and to create 150 jobs, (potentially a further 400 through associated activities).
  • Improving digital connectivity in the regions, to expand the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase Two (RBI2), the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF), and make broadband connectivity available to unserved marae.

We're supporting Māori landowners and driving regional growth.

  • Helping Māori landowners obtain capital previously refused to them by commercial banks to progress investment-ready projects.

We’re planting our One Billion Trees.

  • Minister Hon Shane Jones has planted the first tree in the One Billion Trees planting programme at a primary school in Tairāwhiti.
  • Upscaling Minginui Nursery, a Bay of Plenty Nursery to grow up to one million native trees every year – expanding its current workforce from nine to 90.
  • Launched Matariki Tu Rākau, a remembrance tree planting programme in recognition of the men and women who have served in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
  • Founded Te Uru Rākau, the new standalone forestry agency.
  • Forming a joint venture between Te Uru Rākau and Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust to plant and manage about 3,600 hectares of pine trees in the far North, assisting Ngāti Hine rangatahi to gain qualifications in the forestry sector.
  • Planting 1,350,000 trees planted on private land this winter in the Manawatū-Whanganui region.

We’re reopening and updating rail lines across the regions.

  • Reopening the Wairoa-Napier line for logging trains
  • Supporting KiwiRail to build a new regional freight hub near Palmerston North, to further build an effective and efficient freight network.
  • Upgrading the Whanganui line for mainline locomotives carrying exports
  • Funding KiwiRail projects in Kawerau, Southland and New Plymouth
  • Making sustainable choices for our environment: KiwiRail estimates that each year the Whanganui rail line project alone will keep 6,250 trucks off the road, and 563 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere – just by enabling freight to travel by rail!

We’re getting our regions digitally connected.

  • Expanding rural broadband and mobile coverage to help regional businesses develop further economic opportunities.
  • Establishing Region Digital Hubs (RDHs) in towns enabling local people and businesses to access digital services.
  • Connecting unserved marae to the internet.
  • Boosting internet access and mobile coverage in the West Coast and Southland to further investment in critical digital infrastructure.

We’re building two Great Rides cycle trails on the West Coast.

  • Investing in the construction of two cycle trails – Great Rides – the West Coast Wilderness Trail and the Old Ghost Rd trail.

We’re securing a future for our townships.

  • Developing a much-needed master plan to future-proof the township of Punakaiki
  • Delivering a well-overdue upgrade to the Bay of Islands Airport in Kerikeri

That’s a lot so far – and there’s so much more to come! Keep up with the latest announcements with the Provincial Growth Fund and what’s happening for our regions by following updates from the Minister for Regional Economic Development, Hon Shane Jones.