As fallout continues from the ill-starred Tegel chicken farm project, now vetoed by the Overseas Investment Office, it has been revealed that Kaipara District Council has applied to the Provincial Growth Fund for at least $27.8 million in funding for eight projects, so far identified only in general terms.
“Council has a number of solo projects currently sitting at application stage in the Provincial Growth Fund,” said public affairs officer, Benjamin Hope.
“These applications vary from roading and bridge safety projects, that will tie in with the Regional Land Transport Plan, to digital hub projects for community meeting spaces and shared facilities for community purposes.
“There is a stand-alone walking/cycling project for the Kaipara that fits in with a number of regional walking and cycling projects.
“In total, the value of applications we have with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Provincial Growth Fund is $27.88 million. This figure does not include joint, applications that have been made with other authorities. These projects are multiple stage projects, with initial requests mostly in for feasibility and investigation funding to progress what are large, multi-year ideas.
“To date, we’ve had no declined applications and are awaiting a positive outcome for Kaipara.”
The ministry says eight applications have been received for Kaipara funding, but details of pending projects are not released before decisions are made.
Meanwhile, Northland MP Matt King has described the Tegel decision as “politically motivated and a slap in the face for regional development in Kaipara. It would have provided jobs in Northland and potentially a major benefit to the local economy.”
It was another example of Kaipara being put “on the back burner” by the coalition government.
“For all their talk about investment in Northland, very little of it has come into Kaipara.”
Mayor Smith says the OIO decision “when added to the absence of any approved PGF projects in Kaipara so far, make an unhappy Kaipara investment trend in 2018.”
He adds “while there’s a palpable sense of relief in the community now that the challenging chicken farm proposal is at an end, there are also real concerns about how we encourage sustainable development and growth. Kaipara has been through a lot in the last decade, and everyone here has dug their hands deep in their back pockets to get us through.
“With no bail-outs for Kaipara, we’re self-reliant, but the fact remains we still have fewer resources than other places.” He adds his “concern that the government is not being proactive in helping Kaipara now, when it’s clearly encouraging other places, and Kaipara misses out again.
“Kaipara remains open for business but not just any business, the first idea that comes along or businesses other places don’t want. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to get economic development right here in Kaipara, to build on our strengths and make the best of our great place and our resilient community. That’s how we can thrive.”
(Editor’s note: Tegel, a New Zealand public company, was bought out entirely by Bounty Fresh, a privately-owned Chinese family company in the Philippines, just as the Kaipara chicken farm application was in progress. Thus, in the view of this writer, any New Zealand land purchase by an overseas entity became a concern of the OIO.)