Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is partnering with Eastern Bay of Plenty landowners to accelerate the development of horticulture and create year-round employment for up to 175 people over three years, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.
The Te Kaha Landowners Group (TKG) will receive a $370,000 grant in the first instance and, subject to the successful outcome of planning work, the PGF has committed to investing up to $13 million to see the project become a reality.
“This is an ambitious programme which includes the development of a water distribution network to enable the expansion of 100 hectares of a high-value kiwifruit orchard on Māori owned land and a trial nursery,” Shane Jones said.
“At the same time, our investment will accelerate a skills, training and employment programme to ensure an upskilled and work-ready workforce is ready to fill the jobs created.
“The group will now be able to finalise the first stage of their planning and consent applications, determining the viability of the water distribution and storage network, and nursery expansion planning. If this work is successful, the social and economic impact of this initiative could be life-changing for the communities of Te Kaha, Ōmāio and Raukokore.
“The Eastern Bay of Plenty is home to some of New Zealand’s most isolated communities and represents some of the most challenging areas of rural deprivation. Full-time employment has not been readily available for most whānau in these regions for generations.
“The skills, training and employment programme is made up of core projects, including include the development of a trial kiwifruit nursery and science lab and an innovative living wage horticulture pilot project.
“The innovative living wage trial will annualise wages for horticulture workers across the whole year and could be utilised by the wider horticulture sector, leading to a more permanent workforce across the seasons with a lower annual turnover of employees.
“The combination of TKG’s commercial operation and its skills and employment programme has the potential to enhance productivity in Te Kaha and the surrounding Bay of Plenty and will create real jobs for locals. Improving the social and economic outcomes for people in the regions is what the PGF is all about,” Shane Jones said.
TKG is made up of six ahu whenua trusts that each own successful and viable gold variety kiwifruit orchards of around 80 hectares in Te Kaha and Ōmāio.