PM’s remarks from joint stand-up with PM Morrison

Source: New Zealand Government

It’s my pleasure to be in Sydney today for our annual meeting, Prime Minister.

It’s fair to say that since we last met, tragedy and disaster have befallen our two countries.

They say that in moments of that nature, the true character of an individual comes to the fore.

I believe the same can be said of nations too.

Australia has proven once again to be the closest of friends to us. The eruption of Whakaari/White Island had a devastating impact, and you lost your own in that tragedy.

And yet Prime Minister, you could not have been more supportive.

From the offer of specialist staff, the collaboration on incredibly complex medivac operations, right through to the mere fact that those Australian families who lost loved ones still had the heart and extraordinary kindness to send letters back to New Zealand acknowledging the people who had touched them in Whakatane, and that Aotearoa will always be connected to them.

I acknowledge too that this tragedy occurred in the back drop of your own, as Australia battled bushfires of such devastating intensity. 

New Zealanders were devastated by the scale of what they saw your country experience. There was an incredible desire to help, and during this bushfire season we have contributed 276 firefighting personnel, two emergency management personnel and a number of defence assets, including 139 personnel. As we watched the smoke reach our shores, it only furthered our desire to do everything we could to support Australia, and my message today is that we are only a phone call away – quite literally as PM Morrison and I showed in a recent press conference that he inadvertently dialled into.

But these are only recent illustrations of the way we are connected, and the ways we work together.  And Prime Minister we discussed many other ways today.

Whether it’s work in the Pacific on climate related issues, boosting the circular economy and improving waste management, coordination and support of one another as we tackle covid-19, our ongoing commitment to make it easier for our businesses to transact with one another – including e-invoicing which is now operational and estimated to save the trans-Tasman economy $30 billion, biosecurity detection or the indigenous collaboration arrangements we signed today.

Each of these initiatives is grounded in that history we have, and that friendship that we value.

But friendships aren’t just reaffirmed in times of tragedy, they must stand up to the test of politics. And in the face of politics, the New Zealand and Australia relationship is being tested.

We appreciate that many kiwis have taken up the opportunity to live and work in Australia – many more than has happened in reverse. Not every kiwi migrant will be perfect, but evidence shows that the vast majority are providing a net benefit to Australia. They earn more, are more likely to be employed and pay more tax than their Aussie-born counterparts – they are Australia’s best migrants. But rather than them being given security to keep contributing, in return their rights have been eroded.

Simple rights, like assistance from the national disability insurance scheme – even though they pay into the scheme’s levy. Or the ability to join the defence force, or become a federal civil servant. Kiwis want to contribute to the place that is now their home. But they’re not being given the potential to do that to the fullest.

Separate again is the issue of deportations. Australia is well within its rights to deport individuals who break your laws. New Zealand does the same. But we have a simple request. Send back kiwis, genuine kiwis – do not deport your people, and your problems.

I have heard countless cases of individuals who, on any common sense test, identify as Australians.

Just a few weeks ago I met a women who moved to Australia not much older than 1 year old. She told me that she had no connection to our country, but she had three children in Australia. She was in a crisis centre, having returned to a country she did not feel was her own. I have heard from those who work in our judiciary that they are seeing cases before our courts of individuals who are failing attempts to reintegrate and rehabilitate because the success of these programs is reliant on at least some network. These deportees have none.

I am not asking that Australia stops this policy- you have deported more than 2000 individuals and amongst them will be genuine kiwis who do have to learn the consequences of their actions. But amongst those 2000 are individuals who were too young to become criminals on our watch. They were too young to become patched gang members. Too young to be organised criminals. We will own our people. We ask that Australia stop exporting theirs.

I want to conclude by just reaffirming something I have said often before – we will continue to maintain rights for Australians in New Zealand. We do not wish to have a race to the bottom and we remain confident that by continuing to work together, we will find solutions that reaffirm just how important this relationship is to us.

Finally again PM Morrison, thank you for the chance again today to discuss the issues that are important to each of us. I have no other leader that I can confidently work so closely together with – and that has proven so important in our darkest of hours.

May we look forward to better times ahead.

Government takes further action to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19

Source: New Zealand Government

  • Travel restrictions introduced for Iran from today
  • No exemptions for students from China to enter the country
  • Increased health staff presence at international airports

The Government has announced a suite of new actions as it steps up its response to the rapidly changing global spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This includes placing temporary restrictions on travel from Iran as a precaution, a decision not to allow any exemptions for overseas students from China to enter the country and bolstering the health presence at international airports. 

“The Government’s priority continues to be the health and safety of New Zealanders,” Health Minister Dr David Clark said.

“Our pandemic plan is in place and our focus remains on keeping COVID-19 out of New Zealand. These enhanced travel restrictions and an increased border presence add to our existing actions to limit the risk of it entering the country.

“The situation in Iran is obviously concerning. There is ongoing spread of the disease there, and a large degree of uncertainty about the scale of the outbreak and the ability to contain it.

“Based on the medical and scientific advice, Ministers have put in place further temporary travel restrictions covering incoming travellers from Iran. This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate.

“This is a sensible precaution. Many airlines have already cancelled flights from Iran.

“New Zealand citizens and permanent residents will still be allowed to return home, but will be told to self-isolate for 14 days. 

“These restrictions will come into force immediately, and will initially apply until midnight Tuesday 3 March. They will be reviewed every 48 hours, which is the same approach being taken to the China travel restrictions that have been in place since 3 February.

“Border restrictions are a key part of protecting New Zealanders. Immigration New Zealand is ready to implement the entry restriction on travellers from Iran to keep New Zealanders safe,” Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said.

“People should check with their travel agents about flight options if their travel plans are disrupted,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.

“The Government has also decided not to allow any exemptions to let overseas students from China into New Zealand at this time. Universities requested this but our priority is protecting New Zealanders,” David Clark said.

“The situation with COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are seeing concerning trends internationally, with more and more countries reporting confirmed cases.

“Now is not the time to step back from our approach. We must put the health and safety of New Zealanders first.

“The advice from officials, including health was not to proceed with an exemption.

“Allowing thousands of students into the country from China, and guaranteeing they were safely in self-isolation, would have been incredibly difficult to implement and was not a risk the Government was prepared to take on New Zealanders’ behalf,” David Clark said. 

Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin says it was not an easy decision but it is the right one at this stage.

“The Government is conscious of the impact extended travel restrictions will have on universities and affected students but we’ve opted for a safety-first approach. 

“Public health must be the top priority and that includes being able to ensure we could provide healthcare support for thousands of additional students in the event of them arriving from China.

“The Government will continue to provide practical support to education providers as they adjust the way they deliver programmes to students. This includes being more flexible about entry dates for offshore Chinese student visas,” Tracey Martin said.

“We need to maintain our focus on keeping COVID-19 out of New Zealand, while at the same time continuing to prepare for the likely arrival of individual cases,” David Clark said.

“Health officials are constantly reviewing our response to COVID-19.

“We’ve had health staff at our major airports since late January, meeting all flights from China and being available to meet passengers from other flights if they display symptoms of concern.

“There are now more than 40 countries with cases of COVID-19, so it makes sense to strengthen our health presence at airports.

“Starting tomorrow, health staff will scale up to meet all direct international flights landing at New Zealand airports from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

“Our border response is further ramping up to have health staff available for all international flights into New Zealand.

“They will be available to provide advice and check passengers – particularly anyone that is unwell or displaying symptoms of concern. 

“The international situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve at pace. New Zealand is well placed and well prepared to respond.

“We will continue to take a precautionary approach, based on the best available scientific and medical advice,” David Clark said.
 

Agriculture Minister declares adverse event for Waikato primary sector

Source: New Zealand Government

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has today classified the drought conditions in Waikato and South Auckland as an adverse event for the primary sector, unlocking $80,000 in Government support for farmers and growers.

“This is recognition that the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on the primary sector and additional support is needed,” said Minister O’Connor.

“The lack of any substantial rainfall over the past few months means that the drought situation in the region has reached the point where assistance is needed to help the rural community get through.

“This unlocks initial extra funding of $80,000 for the Waikato, Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust to help speed up the recovery of farming and horticultural businesses,” he said.

The Waikato Rural Support Trust region includes South Auckland (Manukau and Papakura) Hamilton, Hauraki, Matamata- Piako, Ōtorohanga, South Waikato, Taupo, Thames- Coromandel, Waikato, Waipa, and Waitomo.

“Farmers in Waikato are no strangers to dry summers and they have had good grass silage on hand to date but the longer they go without rain, the harder it becomes to carry on as usual.”

Today’s announcement follows adverse event classifications in Northland and North Auckland earlier this month where $80,000 was allocated to the Rural Support Trust to support affected farmers.

“I’m continuing to keep a close eye on conditions in Northland as well as many other parts of the country, in case more help is required. The Government is committed to doing all we can to support farmers and growers at what is a very challenging time.”

The $80,000 will bolster recovery activities in affected rural areas including:

  • Local groups such as the Rural Support Trusts and industry organisations running information sessions, technical transfer activities, and other community events to help support farmers and growers;
  • One-to-one and group support from the Rural Support Trust; and
  • Coordination of help, resources and information for recovery.

Work and Income and Inland Revenue also have some recovery measures to help rural people get through drought and back to farming as usual when the weather allows.

“I encourage farmers to seek professional advice from Rural Support Trusts, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ who can provide information about managing dry conditions,” O’Connor said.

“They can also contact their accountants or banks if they need help or flexibility with making payments.”

Criteria for classifying a medium-scale adverse event

There are three levels of ‘adverse events’ – localised, medium and large. These can cover events like drought, floods, fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The criteria for assessing the scale of an adverse event are:

  • Options available for the community to prepare for and recover from the event;  
  • Magnitude of the event (likelihood and scale of physical impact), and;
  • Capacity of the community to cope economically and socially impact.

Recovery Assistance Measures may include:
Recovery facilitator(s): A recovery facilitator may be needed to coordinate response and recovery initiatives with various agencies, usually working alongside the Rural Support Trust.

Psychosocial support and community events: Rural Support Trusts manage events and extra outreach to help get farmers off-farm, reduce isolation and improve morale. They can also point people in the direction of specific help: financial, health, or otherwise.

Inland Revenue assistance: Tax relief measures may be made available on a case-by-case basis. These could include flexibility on tax dates, or income equalisation.

Enhanced Task Force Green: A labour assistance scheme that can be launched for clean-up and repairs.

Technology transfer costs: Grants may be provided for education and technical advice on recovery options relating to financial and contingency planning, including animal welfare.

Rural assistance payments (RAPs): Payments to families affected by specific events when their farm or orchard business can’t meet essential living needs. These payments are set at 100% of the unemployment benefit level.

Govt books in good position to respond to coronavirus

Source: New Zealand Government

The Crown accounts are in a strong position to weather any economic uncertainty as a result of coronavirus, with the books in surplus and expenses close to forecast, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

The Treasury today released the Crown accounts for the seven months to January.

The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) is close to forecast with a surplus of $1.4 billion.

Core Crown Expenses were also close to forecast at $53 billion and net core Crown Debt was $0.4 billion lower than forecast at 19.5% of GDP.

“The positive state of the Government accounts means we are well placed to deal with whatever the economic impacts of coronavirus may be,” Grant Robertson says.

“The fundamentals of the economy are strong and our careful management has seen the economy continue to grow in the face of constant headwinds like international trade disputes and uncertainty over Brexit.

“This has been backed by international rating agency S&P affirming New Zealand’s credit ratings at AA for foreign currency and AA+ for domestic currency and describing the outlook as positive.

“S&P also noted that our economy is resilient and flexible, and that the coronavirus outbreak and slowing Chinese economy are unlikely to weigh on New Zealand’s credit quality,” Grant Robertson says.

“The Government is carefully monitoring the impact of coronavirus on all sectors of New Zealand and we are preparing for multiple scenarios. We are ready to support our people and our businesses through any eventuality.

“We believe it is sensible and responsible to plan for every possible scenario, but that does not mean we are predicting them.

“We are also at a stage in the 2020 Budget process where we can consider the policies required if we need them,” Grant Robertson says.

Digital experts to provide advice on technological change

Source: New Zealand Government

Supporting New Zealand to make most of digital and data driven technologies will be the focus of a new Digital Council that begins its work today.

Minister for Government Digital Services, Kris Faafoi, and Minister of Statistics, James Shaw, have confirmed the group of experts chosen to advise the Government on how to ensure new and emerging technologies and uses of data improve New Zealanders’ lives.

“We’ve brought together an impressive mix of people who can help navigate the fast-moving digital and data landscape through a specific New Zealand focus,” Kris Faafoi said.

“We want to understand the impact of technological change from a uniquely New Zealand perspective, including te ao Māori.

“The Digital Council will also help identify gaps in accessing and using technology, how it can benefit societies and our economy, assist our role in the Pacific, and help overcome our distance from major trading markets.” Mr Faafoi said.

James Shaw said he looked forward to hearing what the Council had to say about how the Government can keep pace with changes in technology to ensure they bring benefits for all New Zealanders.

“Technology is changing not just how people do business, or how we buy products, it is reshaping how many of us interact, how we form and maintain relationships, and how we address some of the most pressing challenges we face.

“These changes are happening fast and have undoubtedly created opportunities that would have been hard to imagine even a generation ago. But rapid change can also have an effect on people’s lives and it is important we understand what that is. That way we can all work better to ensure that an increasingly digitalised and automated world improves everyone’s wellbeing.

“We are grateful to the members of the Council for taking on this challenge and we look forward to hearing what they have to say,” Statistics Minister James Shaw said.

The Council will draw on members’ expertise, as well as gathering views from communities across New Zealand. It will also learn from national and international experts to develop advice and provide recommendations for government consideration.

It takes over from the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Ministerial Advisory Group (DEDIMAG), which concluded its work programme at the end of last year.

“I want to acknowledge the members of DEDIMAG, who have helped shape and enhance our work in areas such as ICT and Innovation procurement, along with the Research and Development tax incentive, and e-publishing standards.

“Our challenge to the Digital Council is to help government understand how we maximise the wider benefits for our society from access and inclusion in digital and data driven technologies,” Kris Faafoi said. 

“The Digital Council can help ensure all future governments have the expert advice they need to keep pace with technological change so the wellbeing of New Zealanders continues to be the first priority of innovation,” James Shaw said.

Note to Editors:

The Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Ministerial Advisory Group was set up to explore a narrower, more government and industry focused range of issues.

The Digital Council is an independent ministerial advisory group made up of:

  • Mitchell Pham (Chair),
  • Roger Dennis
  • Marianne Elliott
  • Kendall Flutey
  • Colin Gavaghan
  • Rachel Kelly
  • Nikora Ngaropo

NZ Upgrade on South Island roads

Source: New Zealand Government

NZ Upgrade on South Island roads

Safety and climate change resilience are behind South Island regional roading projects that are being brought forward as part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

 

As part of the NZ Upgrade, $300 million was allocated for regional investment opportunities.

 

“I’m pleased to announce $88.25 million on a major accelerated road investment plan with construction able to get underway on some projects by the end of August.

 

The South Island investment is about $25 million with six projects selected from West Coast to Canterbury.

 

“Officials from the Provincial Development Unit and the New Zealand Transport Agency have worked together to identify which roading improvements are ready to go but required funding.

 

“This investment is expected to contribute to regional economic development while providing safer roads, safer bridges, and easier-to-access stopping points.

 

“Some of the intersections we’re addressing are classed as high risk and need immediate attention. We’re also acknowledging the climate change chaos caused by regular flooding from the Kakanui River flood plain in the South Island’s Otago region.

 

“The funding will be used to raise a 200-metre section of the State Highway 1 north of Kakanui River and South of Oamaru where a series of culverts will be installed to reduce risk of road closure. This spot on State Highway 1 is regularly closed for up to two days at a time due to flooding events.

 

“Roads play a critical role in enabling regional economic activity and several regions’ roading networks exist in challenging conditions.

 

“I’m so proud to be prioritising the importance of the NZ upgrade programme that’s keeping our regions connected and more importantly safe,” Shane Jones said.

 Notes to editors:

The New Zealand Transport Agency will contribute $1 million for operational resource support to deliver the projects on deadline.

West Coast

SH 67 Granity Seawall $3.6 million

This project will provide seawall protection to a section of SH 67 between Granity and Ngakawau.

This highway suffers frequent coastal erosion and is an important link to the northern West Coast of the South Island.This project will improve the security and resilience of the highway for the local community, and for freight supplies and rural services in the region. The funding is for the construction of a 950m rock-lined bank to protect the road from a direct threat of sea erosion.

SH 6 Tatare Bridge Franz Josef Safety Improvements $1.5 million

This project will improve safety and access to the 130 metre long single lane bridge to Franz Josef.

The funding will provide hand-rails and provision for separate pedestrian and cycle use.

The upgrade will include the installation of guard-rail edge protection over the bridge and a clip-on pedestrian and cycle walkway.

The clip-on will reuse an existing clip-on structure removed from the Taramakau combined bridge that was removed when the new separated road bridge was opened in 2018.

The project will improve user-experience for locals and tourists by addressing safety risks and improving traffic flows.

West Coast State Highway Single Lane Bridges  – Safety Retrofit $5 million

This project will see compliant guardrail installed on up to five single lane bridges throughout the West Coast network.

The proposed bridges are:

  • SH73 Taipo River (timber railing)
  • SH6 Mikonui River (timber railing)
  • SH6 Wanganui River (timber rail only, approach guardrail only)
  • SH6 Moeraki River (pipe rail)
  • SH6 Gates of Haast (pipe rail)

Otago

SH1 north of Kakanui River/ South of Oamaru – Improving Flood mitigation $2 million

This project is to improve flood mitigation at the Kakanui River flood plain in Otago.

The project will raise a 200-metre section of the state highway and involves the installation of a series of culverts.

The works are located on SH1 in Otago, north of Kakanui River and south of Oamaru.

This will avoid the flood closures that occur every two to three years.

There is no effective or reliable detour route during flood events and road closures can last up to two days.

The project is expected to indirectly contribute to regional economic development because the improvements will reduce the frequency of road closures due to flooding.

SH 6 –  SH8B Junction Cromwell – Intersection Upgrade $8 million

This project is to build a two-lane roundabout at the intersection of SH6 and SH8B in Cromwell.

The intersection has a high level of safety issues with serious injury crashes, with the safety record worsening over the last two years.  SH6 is the main road from Cromwell to Wanaka and Queenstown. The increased popularity of the region and increased tourism numbers, as well as higher local growth, is causing increased pressure at this intersection.

The project is expected to contribute to the regional economic development plan as improvements will address the safety risks and improve traffic flows.

Canterbury

SH 8, 79, 80 MacKenzie Basin, Pull-Over Areas $5 million

This project will provide safe stopping areas to maximise the tourism potential of the MacKenzie Basin.

The funding will provide:

  • a number of safety and access improvements
  • increased capacity at existing rest areas
  • new rest areas at scenic locations
  • upgrade existing rest areas
  • better signage
  • directional arrows
  • edge protection
  • tourism information
  • intersection improvements
  • road widening and passing locations

An increasing number of self-driving tourists has meant we need to provide safer places to pull over to rest and enjoy the views.

Milford gets connected with NZ Upgrade

Source: New Zealand Government

Digital and air connectivity in Fiordland are getting a big boost, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

 As part of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced in January, $300 million was allocated for regional investment opportunities, to be administered by the Provincial Development Unit.

 “I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be investing $13 million to improve digital and air connectivity to Fiordland,” Shane Jones said.

 The region’s recent flooding, road and track closures highlight the fragility of the infrastructure in Milford Sound and the need for increased resilience.

 “Improved digital connectivity will allow Fiordland to keep pace with other regions to develop business, employment and tourism opportunities. It allows people to work outside urban centres, gain sustainable employment and ensure talent can stay in the regions.

 “Reliability of telecommunications in the region, and public safety for those travelling to Milford Sound tourist destinations is another factor in the investment.

 “The $10 million we are investing in the Milford Fibre Link builds on an existing connectivity project for the region announced in June. The project will provide connections between 11 mobile towers, and will allow greater internet coverage to the Fiordland community and the more than 1 million tourists who visit Milford Sound annually.

 “The $3 million to upgrade the Milford Aerodrome will address safety concerns by resealing the runway, apron and taxiway and providing improved drainage at the aerodrome.

 “The Milford Aerodrome is a Crown-owned airport managed by the Ministry of Transport who advise this work is required within the next three years to keep the aerodrome operational.

“The aerodrome is critical to the community and ensures transport resilience in the event of road closures,” Shane Jones said.

NZ Upgrade on North Island regional roads

Source: New Zealand Government

NZ Upgrade on North Island regional roads

Regional roading projects that will improve safety and resilience are being brought forward as part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

As part of the NZ Upgrade, $300 million was allocated for regional investment opportunities.

“I spend a lot of time in the regions and one bugbear I consistently hear about is roads,” Shane Jones said.

“Officials from the Provincial Development Unit and the New Zealand Transport Agency have worked together to identify which roading improvements are ready to go but required funding.

“I’m pleased to announce $88.25 million on a major accelerated road investment plan with construction able to get underway on some projects by the end of August.

The North Island investment is about $62 million with seven projects selected from Northland, the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki.

“This investment is expected to contribute to regional economic development while providing safer roads, safer bridges, and easier to access stopping points.

“Roads play a critical role in enabling regional economic activity and several regions’ roading networks exist in challenging conditions.

“It’s great to be able to bring these projects forward, create new jobs and help our regions thrive,” Shane Jones said.

Notes to editors: The New Zealand Transport Agency will contribute $1 million for operational resource support to deliver the projects on deadline.

Northland

SH1/11 Kawakawa – Roundabout & Resilience Project $6 million

This project will replace the existing intersection with a roundabout at the intersection of State Highways 1 and 11 in Kawakawa. The primary benefit of this change is to improve safety and traffic flow. This intersection is a key connector on the Twin Coast Discovery Route which is included as a priority route in Te Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan.

SH 11/10 Intersection Puketona Junction Roundabout $15 million

This project is to build a roundabout at the intersection of State Highways 10 and 11 at Puketona Junction. The primary benefit of this change is to increase the level of road safety and improve traffic flow. The project is expected to indirectly contribute to Northland’s economic development plan through improved infrastructure attracting more visitors to the region.

SH 12 and Rawene Road – Intersection Improvements $500,000

This project will improve the State Highway 12 and Rawene Road intersection, to bring it up to current standards and accommodate additional right turning capacity. The intersection has a known crash history and the funding will improve its safety. The intersection is a key gateway for community and visitors accessing the Hokianga Harbour ferry. The funding will improve the reliability and resilience of the road and reduce disruption.

Bay of Plenty

SH 5 Tarukenga to Ngongotaha Improvements, SH 36 & SH 5 Roundabout $14 million

This project will improve safety and reduce congestion at the roundabout intersection between State Highways 5 and 36. The funding will be used to improve safety, ease congestion and enhance accessibility. The intersection is regularly congested during morning peak-hour traffic times. The programme of work also includes standard safety improvements along 8.1km of State Highway 5.

Hawke’s Bay

SH 2 College Road to Silverstream $13 million

This project is for vertical and horizontal curve realignment and the addition of a passing lane along a 1.7 km section of SH2 north of Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay. It will improve the efficiency and safety of this key freight route between Hawke’s Bay, the Manawatū and Tairāwhiti and will improve the connection to Napier Port. This project will support regional economic growth by reducing travel times, improving access and efficiencies for moving people and goods along this key route.

SH 2 Tahaenui Bridge $1.2 million

This project will upgrade the Tahaenui Bridge on SH2 between Wairoa and Gisborne to allow two-lane travel. The funding will enable the bridge to be widened to two-way travel and will improve the roading network access and efficiency for those travelling between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

This bridge is currently the only one-lane restriction on the important link between Gisborne and Napier Port.

 Taranaki

SH 43 Forgotten World Highway Improvements $13.4 million

This project will improve SH43, the Forgotten World Highway. The upgrades include safety improvements, passing opportunities, a single-lane bridge upgrade and culvert replacements.

The improvements will provide resilience for the Central North Island’s transport network, as an important alternative to SH 3 between Taranaki and the Upper North Island.

The Forgotten World Highway is promoted as a tourist destination.

PGF funded sealing of the unsealed section of the Tangarakau Gorge is expected to drive GDP gains into Taranaki of up to $45 million over 40 years.

The projects are forecast to increase visitor numbers to Taranaki by around 13,000 annually.

NZ Upgrade for West Coast ports and roads

Source: New Zealand Government

West Coast ports and roads will benefit from an investment of $18.6 million to improve safety and resilience and enable future economic growth, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.  

The $12 billion NZ Upgrade Programme announced last month allocated $300 million for regional investment opportunities, to be administered by the Provincial Development Unit.

 “The operation of the ports has been heavily impacted over recent years by declines in key sectors on the West Coast, including forestry and mining,” Shane Jones said.

 “The West Coast owned and operated fishing fleet has a relatively small share of the local fishing market but there is potential to expand the region’s fishing sector through today’s investments and utilise the ports for other sectors.  

 “The ports are currently a financial burden for the respective owners and ratepayers and there is little ability to fund improvements from the small ratepayer base. This is a major barrier to getting the ports into a financially sustainable position and capable of contributing to economic growth opportunities.

 West Coast ports will receive $8.5 million funding package to help secure the region’s fishing industry and restore the financial sustainability of its ports. 

 

  • $4 million to the Buller District Council to install floating pontoons at Westport
  • $4 million to Grey District Council to install floating pontoons at Greymouth.
  • $ 500,000 to Westland District to repair the wharves at Jacksons Bay, south of Haast.

 

West Coast state highways will receive $10.1 million to improve safety and resilience. The funding announced today will go to:

 

  • $5 million for safety retrofit upgrades for up to six single lanes bridges on State Highway 73 and 6
  • $3.6 million for State Highway 67 seawall protection at Granity
  • $1.5 million for a cycle and walkway clip-on to the State Highway 6 Tatare Bridge at Franz Josef

 

“The Granity seawall project will provide protection against erosion to a section of SH 67 between Granity and Ngakawau with the construction of a 950 metre rock lined bank. This is an area that suffers from frequent coastal erosion and is an important link into the northern West Coast. The seawall will improve the highway’s resilience for the local community, and for freight supplies and rural services in the region,” Shane Jones said.

 “The funding includes the installation or upgrade of guardrails on six single lane bridges on the West Coast state highway network. Tartare Bridge at Franz Josef will additionally have a clip on pedestrian and cycle walk way added.

 The West Coast has the largest number of single lane bridges in New Zealand on the state highway network, some of which timber rail, pipe rail, or concrete edge protection, often with no approach guardrail. This creates a safety crash risk.

 “The work will indirectly contribute to regional economic development by improving the road user experience for locals and tourists by improved traffic flows and access and addressing safety risks,” Shane Jones said.

 The bridges to be improved are:

  • SH 73 Taipo River
  • SH 6 Mikonui River
  • SH 6 Wanganui River
  • SH 6 Moeraki River
  • SH 6 Gates of Haast
  • SH 6 Tartare Bridge

 The work will leverage design work already underway to improve road user and cyclist safety at high-risk single lane bridges on the West Coast also.

 The work should be completed by late 2021

Ōpōtiki Harbour finally gets green light

Source: New Zealand Government

The Eastern Bay of Plenty will finally get the harbour development it has wanted for decades, thanks to a $79.4 million central Government investment, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

This game-changing project will revitalise the township of Ōpōtiki and the wider Eastern Bay of Plenty, creating hundreds of jobs and unlocking new aquaculture industries.

The funding is part of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade programme which was announced in January and is possible because of the work of the Provincial Development Unit.

“Ōpōtiki Harbour has been in the pipeline for such a long time with successive governments unable to make the project stack up. With the full attention of officials from the Provincial Development Unit, including engineer Rosie Mercer from the Fund’s Independent Advisory Panel, we have been able to develop a concept that is fit-for-purpose yet affordable,” Shane Jones said.

“Building a new harbour to support the growth of aquaculture is the biggest transformational investment the Provincial Growth Fund has made to date and will unlock the largest economic development opportunities in the region. 

“World demand for sustainable seafood is increasing rapidly and large scale aquaculture requires a safe, accessible harbour for harvesting produce and servicing boats. Today’s announcement will provide safe access for more boats into the harbour allowing Ōpōtiki to become a major servicing base for aquaculture and other marine related industries.

“The new harbour will enable significant aquaculture initiatives in the region to get underway, which includes mussel farming. This will be the catalyst for private investment in marine related industries, wharves and a residential development.

“The project is expected to create around 1,850 jobs, including over 730 in Ōpōtiki. Around 200 jobs will be created during the building phase through work on the harbour construction. Direct employment in Ōpōtiki longer term will be driven by work on sea farm servicing vessels, production staff in processing facilities and support staff in the aquaculture industry.

“Given Ōpōtiki has one of the country’s highest levels of social and economic deprivation, with low household incomes, high unemployment and below average educational outcomes, new employment in town will make a big impact on wellbeing and social participation.

The Ōpōtiki District Council’s economic modelling conservatively predicts the harbour development will produce $132 million in economic benefits for New Zealand. The overall cost of the project is $99.4 million with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council committing $20 million to it.

“The lack of an improved harbour has been the greatest hindrance to economic growth in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region and this initiative has been a priority for Ōpōtiki for some decades. I’m proud the PGF has been a part of this solution for this community’s aspiration,” Shane Jones said.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said the investment was closely aligned with the Government’s strategy to grow the aquaculture industry to $3 billion by 2035.

“A new harbour in Ōpōtiki is critical infrastructure that will enable aquaculture growth and help realise meaningful jobs, wellbeing and prosperity for the people of the region,” Stuart Nash said.

Notes to editors:

A previous PGF application to redevelop the Ōpōtiki Harbour for $144 million was declined by Ministers in May 2018 due to its high cost and low returns. The revised business case was able to demonstrate lower costs and a broader range of benefits.

The business case for this project is available here.