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Shane Jones dishes out $152m in Tairāwhiti

Tairāwhiti is the latest region to benefit from the Provincial Growth Fund’s largesse, with $152.7 million in funding for East Coast projects announced today.

The lion’s share of funding will go to roading improvements, with the PGF contributing $137 million towards a $312 million roading package. The rest of the funding will come from the Land Transport Fund, paid for by fuel excise and road user charges. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones were in Gisborne for the announcement.

More money for airports with an indication even more is on the way

Other projects announced include a $5.5 million loan for the redevelopment of Gisborne airport.

Jones said the redevelopment would “ensure the airport terminal reflects the unique cultural aspects of Tairāwhiti”.

He said he expected the airport to cater for the increased demand from the Sestercentennial celebrations, marking 250 years since the first meeting of British explorers and Maori on the East Coast.

“With the 2019 Sestercentennial celebrations to be hosted by the region, the project will cater to expected demand, as well as help tell the story of the region,” he said.

Airport redevelopments have been a feature of PGF funding with the Bay of Islands Airport also receiving $1.7 million. Jones indicated further funding for other regional airports could be on the way. 

“The Government recognises that many regional airports are looking to improve their resilience and contribute to their region’s economic development plans,” he said.

“This is why we are also considering the wider role that air connectivity can play and how we can measure its value to regions,” he said. 

Improving regional airports was a feature of New Zealand First’s 2017 election campaign, with Winston Peters listing several airports as “at risk,” according to the New Zealand Herald. In Government, Shane Jones has berated Air New Zealand for its perceived lack of commitment to regional routes following the airline’s decision to pull out of the Paraparumu to Auckland route.

Wins for tourism and industry

Other projects to receive funding include up to $6.1 million for the Mt Titirangi Puhi Kai Iti connection to build several facilities at Cook's landing site and $1.6 million to restore the reserve at the landing site itself. 

A feasibility study for the redevelopment of the region’s rail network received $500,000. It will look at developing a rail tourism venture including a Gisborne-Napier rail cycleway and using the Wairoa to Gisborne rail line for freight. 

Another feasibility study into the establishment of a ManaiaSAFE forestry school training project received $301,000.

A Tairāwhiti manuka honey strategy project and a water and waste Management feasibility study for a recycling plant and waste management initiative received $40,000 and $30,000 respectively. 

A project to grow macadamia on Māori land for export received $995,000.

It brings the total funding allocated from the fund this year to $764.3 million, although $485m of that funding is for the One Billion Trees programme.

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