Lower North Island benefits in latest round of PGF funding
Provincial Growth Fund investments were announced for Kapiti, Wairarapa, and Manawatu this week. Kapiti announcements included $2.5 million for Otaki’s Omeo Technology, allowing them to upscale their state-of-art wheelchair production, and $635,000 for Waiorua Lodge to scope the improvement of tourism infrastructure on Māori-owned land at Kāpiti Island.
In the Wairarapa, the PGF is investing $948,000 in getting rangatahi work-ready through the He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) initiative. Local training provider Youth, Education, Training and Employment, will use the funding to target 110 at-risk rangatahi aged 16-24 and build their skills and confidence for the workforce. The Nga Pumanawa Tupuna programme will help to upskill local rangatahi to help meet the demand for workers in industries like farming, construction and hospitality.
And in Manawatu, the PGF is contributing $100,000 to investigate the feasibility of a tourist trail between Woodville and Ashhurst. The Manawatu Gorge-Te Apiti region, hard hit by the closure of the gorge road two years ago due to slips, is now aiming to become a tourist destination.
A further $100,000 will go to the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) to evaluate a range of new tourism experiences in the region.
Great progress on forestry initiatives
The partnership between the One Billion Trees Programme and Project Crimson’s Trees That Count has resulted in almost double the number of native trees planted by the Trust in the past year.
The Government committed $6.6 million to support Trees That Count – which provides a link between those donating trees and those planting trees.
Over the last year, Trees That Count has supported 122,000 native trees to be planted, up from 64,000. Regional staff have also been recruited across the country to better support landowners and share the benefits of planting native trees on their properties.
“This partnership project was one of the first through the One Billion Trees Programme and has played a crucial role in mobilising Kiwis to get out there and planting native trees to mitigate climate change, improve the environment and increase biodiversity,” said Forestry Minister Shane Jones.
This week also saw the graduation of the first forestry trainees under the One Billion Trees programme.
Northland’s Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust last year received $1.89 million to run a Mānuka training programme as part of a wider joint venture entered into with the Crown.
Eighteen new graduates have picked up forestry jobs, with another two students taking up further forestry training. Twenty trainees are enrolled for next year, building on the programme’s success.
“Training programmes like this one are consistent with the Government’s goal of developing a sustainable, domestic forestry workforce,” Mr Jones said.
Newest police graduates head to the regions
The regions will be home to 78 new Police constables following this week’s graduation of a new recruit wing from the Royal New Zealand Police College.
The latest graduation means 1446 new frontline officers have been deployed since the Coalition Government took office. A further 240 are currently training in other recruit wings in Wellington and Auckland.
The extra resources help Police expand their work with the most vulnerable in New Zealand communities, in line with the coalition government’s wellbeing focus.
The latest group of new constables will help tackle organised crime, gangs, and drugs - all Government priorities, said Police Minister Stuart Nash.
“Police are working tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”
Government to build new facilities for 100,000 students
The Government has committed to a long-term National Education Growth Plan (NEGP) to meet demand for around 100,000 extra student places for children entering schools over the next 10 years.
The initial funding of $1.2 billion over four years announced in the Wellbeing Budget 2019 is the largest-ever outlay on school property. Friday’s announcements for Auckland and Tai Tokerau, which include a new primary school and 200 new classrooms, represents about $200 million of the funding.
“The $1.2 billion in guaranteed funding for new classrooms gives certainty to schools, parents, and the construction sector,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“This Government inherited a decade of neglect which has seen funding for building classrooms falling behind the growth in students. Our plan both catches up and brings the building of new classrooms in line with future roll growth.”
Further announcements about plans for regions with the highest student roll growth will be made in the coming weeks.