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Govt announces $153M PGF spend for Gisborne to boost transport links, forestry

Friday 7th September 2018

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The government has announced $153 million in Provincial Growth Fund spending in Tairāwhiti, the Māori name used for the Gisborne region, in an attempt to boost the area's tourism and create jobs.

Tairāwhiti will benefit from up to $137 million spending on transport connections, $13.3 million for tourism projects, $1.3 million for forestry projects and over $1 million for food and beverage sector projects, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced this morning.

The transport spend, which totals $151.7 million with funding from the National Land Transport Fund, will include $33.9 million on a two-year physical works programme, which will cover improved local roads, improvements on State Highway 35, and upgrading roads and bridges to support higher freight volumes and larger vehicles.

Over five years, a further $112 million will be spent to improve route security on Tinoroto Road, which is an alternate route to State Highway 2 connecting Wairoa and Gisborne, SH35 and East Cape Road; creating passing opportunities on SH2 and SH35; and realignment at Waikare Gorge. The fund will also provide $4.8 million in funding for emergency repairs and $1 million for resource support. 

Jones said the road network had suffered from historical under-investment and recurring extreme weather events, and the PGF funding will "improve the safety and resilience of critical infrastructure and create sustainable economic growth in the region."

The fund will also spend $6.1 million on the Mt Titirangi – Puhi Kai Iti connection and $1.6 million for the restoration of Cook’s Landing site. There will also be improvements to Gisborne's Inner Harbour ahead of the 250-year commemoration events in Oct. 2019.

The PGF will loan $5.5 million to redevelop Gisborne Airport's terminal and supporting infrastructure, with Eastland Group and Eastland Community Trust funding the remaining $7 million for the project.

For forestry, the PGF will spend $500,000 on the Far East Saw Mill, contributing to a $3.6 million project to increase the mill's wood processing capacity and create jobs. The balance of the funding is coming from the Eastland Community Trust and the Far East Saw Mill Ltd. It will also spend $300,000 on a pilot forestry training course, with the remaining $540,000 of funding from the Eastland Community Trust, the Forest Growers Levy Trust and the Eastern Institute of Technology, in an attempt to solve the growing forestry skills shortage in the region.

Just under $1 million will go to the New Zealand Macadamia Industry Development Project, growing macadamia on Māori land for export; up to $600,000 will be spent on a rail tourism feasibility study; $40,000 will be spent developing a mānuka honey strategy for Tairāwhiti; and $30,000 on an application for a feasibility study on a water recycling plant and waste management initiative.

Also, $90,000 in funding will go to the regional action plan programme manager, which the announcement today said had been "both valuable and crucial to coordination and reporting on project progress, and coordinating effort in order to accelerate the region’s growth."

(BusinessDesk)

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