Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones was on RNZ’s Morning Report talking about the recent droughts in the Northland region and what the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is doing to alleviate its impact.
The PGF recently announced a funding of $2 million for temporary water supplies to Kaikohe and Kaitaia, two Northland communities hit by the water shortage. The Far North region has been experiencing drought since November, leading to severe water restrictions.
The Minister told the programme’s host, Susie Ferguson, about the actions the Coalition Government is doing: “We are responding to businesses and ordinary households and people associated with our schools, that this is a genuine crisis situation.”
The government provided an initial funding of $80,000 for the drought declaration, which the Minister said was only a “teaser”. However, Minister Jones said that there is a need for different stakeholders to be working together to tackle the problem.
“We have to work with the Far North District Council so they can demonstrate that they’re worthy of keeping their current duties.”
“They have been working with a host of local landowners, and being the North, not surprisingly it is the local hapū. Much to my surprise they are showing lucid thinking,” the Minister added.
Minister Jones highlighted the importance of working together, especially in terms of supplying the water itself.
“Lake Omapere is a Māori-owned lake, a large body of water near Kaikohe. There is also a huge aquifer near Kaitaia in a block of land called Sweetwater, underneath the old Landcorp Farm also owned by the local iwi. So everyone realises that they have to work together because, quite frankly, the owners of these nearby water bodies have members who are huge percentages of the local population.”
But the Minister gave his assurance that the water supply will be treated: “It will go through a highly professional set of tests which already exists for local authorities.”