Shane Jones

Kaipara’s growth fund windfall

by Paul Campbell

Kaipara is to benefit from a Provincial Growth Fund investment of up to $18.5 million in water storage, and Dargaville is expected to host one of three new Regional Digital Hubs to accelerate economic development — initiatives described by Mayor Jason Smith as “fantastic.”

“Up to $18.5 million will be invested to help investigate and, if feasible, construct community-scale water storage and use options in Kaipara and mid-North,” says Regional Economic Development minister, Shane Jones.

He said the investment had been made for the “real opportunities a more reliable water supply could bring to the region — up to $150m in increased horticulture earnings a year and up to 1,150 jobs created.

“Better access to water will give landowners greater options to develop new markets and maintain and grow a skilled workforce.

Northland Regional Council will receive the funding and will work with other councils in the region, iwi and the community.

The minister also said Northland is getting New Zealand’s first three Regional Digital Hubs (RDHs) to enable people to connect for business and accelerate economic development. The first hub to open in Kaitaia with the other two likely to be in Dargaville and Kaikohe.

The hubs would connect people for business development and offer services such as free Wi-Fi, co-working spaces and internet skills.

Funding comes from a package of $21 million, which helps connect marae to the internet and local businesses to access digital services.

Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith has welcomed the news along with plans for plantation forestry on the Pouto Peninsula through the Billion Trees Fund with Te Uri o Hau.

“It’s another fantastic win for Northland. We look forward to working with Northland Regional Council and iwi to ensure the benefit of this funding is maximised.