SPEECH: Highest Unemployment Region Misrepresents Hawke’s Bay Potential

Campaign for the Regions Tour - Napier
Tamatea Hotel
Bev Ridges on York
Cnr York and Durham Street,
10am, July 12, 2017

At the beginning of the year your region and Gisborne at over 8 per cent  the highest unemployment rate in the country.

For a region abounding in resources this is an alarming fact.

Hawke’s Bay is experiencing what so many regions are facing - the brunt of a right-win economic experiment gone horribly wrong.

A two-tiered economy has been created in which those at the top are having a great time.

It’s a different story for in the middle and at the bottom.

They are really struggling to maintain their lives or find jobs and homes and to get access to healthcare.

The once hugely egalitarian society we had in this country is now deeply divided.

We have family poverty at levels beyond the memory of over 90 per cent of New Zealanders.

You have beggars in downtown Napier and we have beggars everywhere. There’s an article in the news today about beggars in Napier.

Beggars on our nation’s streets used to be a rare sight.

Now you see them everywhere.

Hawke’s Bay should be hugely wealthy

Given Hawke’s Bay’s abundant resources in agriculture, horticulture, wine, forestry and other industries, this region should be hugely wealthy.

It is obvious you are not achieving your full potential.


NZ First believes in large part it is due to you not receiving the support you should have from central government.

During our Campaign for the Regions tour, which is now in its 13th day, we have seen the impact on provincial New Zealand by the government’s gross neglect.

• We have seen: roads that are not up to standard and others with too many big trucks on them;

• Rail lines that have been shut;

• Tourism infrastructure not able to cope with demand;

• Hospitals under-funded; • Small towns with shops closed or closing.

• Heartland New Zealanders seriously brassed off. We have seen first-hand the signs of New Zealand losing control of its own destiny – farmland that has been sold to foreign owners; dairy and beef plants that are Chinese owned or controlled.

On the outskirts of Ashburton we passed Fairton meat works which has shut down by its Chinese controlled company with hundreds of jobs going.   

Here in Hawke’s Bay, the economic viability of your region is being affected by a government that shut down the rail line from Gisborne to Napier and which now has closed “indefinitely” the Manawatu Gorge.

Manawatu Gorge

New Zealand First says leaving the Manawatu Gorge closed is a disaster.

Critically important links in the lower North Island are shut down as a result.

Just another example of government total lack of disregard for provincial New Zealand.

Shut down rail lines and shut down roads.

The gorge should be re-opened as a priority.

Napier-Gisborne rail line

Rail lines were built for freight and passengers – not cycling.

Reopening the Wairoa-Napier line is only half the job and they haven’t even done that yet.

New Zealand First is going to re-open the Napier to Gisborne line.

We are going to sideline those who have been standing in your way on this matter.

In short the line’s coming back and they’re not.

Napier Port is a crucial gateway for the central North Island exporting to the world.

The Napier Port CEO said transport infrastructure was necessary.

"In an export-dominated region like Hawke's Bay, effective road and rail infrastructure is vital to our economy," he said.

That must be supported in the long-term by government policy.

It won’t be under National.

In their macabre thinking they have shut down lines which end up costing the taxpayer millions and that is complete stupidity.

A strong rail network should be operating with Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki.

Rural roads

NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal rural roads, improve  road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.

We want the Hawke’s Bay, to have a fully co-ordinated transportation strategy with road, rail and coastal shipping.

Exporters facing a major export roadblock

We will fix the Reserve Bank Act so the present inflated dollar stops attacking the region’s producers – in agriculture, horticulture and the wine industry – and will stop favouring the paper shufflers, currency speculators and overseas banks.

The great driver of your economy is the rural hinterland.

Exporters have long opposed our overvalued dollar.

NZ First hears them.

Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.

We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters. 

What’s wrong with the Reserve Bank Act is evidenced by our dollar  being one of the most heavily traded international currencies in the world.

NZ has a persistent and chronic balance of payments deficit – and  our inflated dollar just fuels that deficit.

Risks abound in the global economy and New Zealand is highly exposed and vulnerable to any volatility. 

NZ First is committed to reforming the Reserve Bank Act as a vital step in safeguarding our economic future.

Ruataniwha Dam

New Zealand First has long been concerned that the Ruataniwha Dam proposal needed to be on an environmentally sound basis.

The Supreme Court decision has seen it hit the wall which evoked Maggie Muldoon (nee Barry) to say she was going to overrule it with legislation.

How arrogant is that?

When there is a way forward which would have mass majority support – but it requires a farmer buy in.

The $330m Ruataniwha scheme would allow irrigation of large tracts of the Ruataniwha Plains which will inevitably provide a massive economic boost for your region.


Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s fifth largest sheep region.

We’re a wood growing country.

It’s common sense to put wool on to the floors of government buildings and wool insulation into the walls.

The sneering reaction of the Prime Minister - a Wellingtonian who came from Southland but has forgotten his roots - shows just how contemptible the modern National Party is of your region and what your region produces.

NZ First wants NZ wool and natural fibre floorcoverings and insulation for government-funded buildings.

We view wool, the greenest of green materials, as a 21st century material.

National seems wedded to the stuff that’s made from imported oil.


Tourism is increasingly bringing wealth to your local economy.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment stated tourists spent $604 million for the year to May 2017 in Hawke’s Bay.

Thirty per cent is from international tourists and 70% domestic.

Food and wine and Napier’s art deco continue to be great attractions with an expected further boost in the Wairoa District with Rocket Lab.

On the backs of your tourism growth, the government is scooping millions of dollars off in GST.

Virtually none of that money is coming back here.

New Zealand First will change that.

Under NZ First policy - we will return the GST paid by international tourists in Hawke’s Bay – for tourism infrastructure and roads, and to stimulate job training and opportunities.

The government took $1.5b in GST from international visitors to New Zealand in the year to March 2016, and $950m the year before, yet little has gone to councils that desperately need money for toilets, sewerage schemes and local road improvements to cope with tourist numbers.

Royalties for regions

Water bottling has been a contentious issue in Hawke's Bay.

There are 11 consented water bottling enterprises from the Heretaunga aquifer.

Here the Chinese controlled NZ Miracle Water Ltd has consent to take 400 million litres of pristine aquifer water per year back to China.

Under NZ First policy:

• There will be real royalty on water bottling for export

• Under our Royalties for the Regions policy no less than 25 per cent of the royalties from its bottled water will go back to Hawke’s Bay.

Horticulture jobs

Hawke’s Bay regularly calls out for horticultural workers.

With more than 92,000 young New Zealanders aged from 15 to 24 not in work, education or training nationally why are not some of them being encouraged to get into this industry?

More effort must be made to get them into horticulture.

New Zealand has a Business Linked Internship Scheme to help make this happen.

NZ First ran a trial in Warkworth in 2013 and it stood up to the rigours of real life.

It benefited both small and medium-sized businesses and young people of the area.

The scheme can be adopted quickly:

First, as the ‘interns’ are under the supervision of Industry Training Organisations, NZQA needs to accept a clock in/clock out card as an attendance record for the registration of qualifications.

Second, the government needs to embrace New Zealand First’s policy of a Universal Student Allowance to support on-the-job learning.

Getting youth work ready and upskilled

We hear the Prime Minister is in Napier today to make an announcement on jobs.

Nine long years of doing nothing to get young Kiwis work ready.

Some want a job but lack the skills.

Many have fallen by the wayside – not helped by a poor upbringing, bad luck, lack of confidence.

They’re been discarded.

The PM called them “lazy”.

What a waste for NZ.

We’d pick them up, get them work ready.

We’d upskill others who might go the same way.

The country would gain.

National did the opposite.

Brought in tens of thousands of low skilled immigrants. Migrants will do anything - work for $3 an hour, take cash, accept 60 hours weeks, any conditions, even pay for jobs. That kept wages down. It made workers cheap.

New Zealand First has other policy to get people work ready:

• A community wage – to do all the jobs that local councils need doing. It would help people get out of bed, develop self confidence, pride in having a jobs.

• Get young people who fail at school into paid work in the Defence force – learning a skill, developing their literacy, numeracy skills. They’ll be work ready at 18 years of age. (The Youth Employment Training and Education scheme)

Both these schemes will stop the decay. Get young people work ready, steer them away from drugs and off the sofa.

Conclusion Hawke’s Bay has been neglected and ignored by central government.

You can sit back and take all this if you want.

But NZ First says it is time to stand up and make a change.

Don’t be ignored; don’t be forgotten; don’t be taken for granted.

Everyone here can contribute.

We can do it together.