Ngāti Whare-owned Minginui Nursery to get $5.8M from provincial growth fund
By Paul McBeth
March 15 (BusinessDesk) - Ngāti Whare Holdings' Minginui Nursery is the latest beneficiary of Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones's provincial growth fund, securing $5.8 million over the next three years to scale up its seedling production.
The funding will help the nursery, based in Bay of Plenty's Whirinaki Forest Park, expand its workforce tenfold to 90 and grow up to 1 million trees a year, Jones said in a statement. The two-year-old nursery focuses on native trees and is the first in the country to use a Scion-developed technique to propagate indigenous podocarps, the tree family including totara, rimu, kahikatea, mataī and miro.
"With the government committed to seeing one billion trees planted over the next 10 years, we need to work with nurseries and help them increase production to ensure enough seedlings – both exotics and indigenous – are available to be planted," Jones said. "Ngāti Whare Holdings has already proven it can operate a nursery on commercial terms, employ and train local people and the government is happy to partner with such businesses."
The $1 billion a year provincial growth fund to fund regional economic initiatives has formed a key component of the coalition agreement between the Labour and New Zealand First parties to help reinvigorate the provinces, which both parties claimed had been left behind under the previous administration. Last month Jones announced $61.7 million for regional programmes when he officially launched the fund.
Jones today said Minginui was planned as a forestry town and built in the late 1940s, but its population had dwindled since a sawmill was closed in the late 1980s and just 1,300 people now live in the wider area with fewer than 300 in the town proper.
"Community development is the key driver for the nursery’s move to increase its production of forestry grade native seedlings to an industrial scale," Jones said. "With the PGF’s help, Minginui Nursery can play its part in rejuvenating the region, contributing to employment and skills development and better social outcomes for the community."
Ngāti Whare Holdings set up the nursery to establish an operation capable of scaling up native plant forestry, providing local employment and ultimately earn a commercial return for Ngāti Whare, which is one of the eight Central North Island iwi which signed the $400 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement over Crown forest licence lands, known as Treelords. The iwi's settlement, including the Central North Island forest component, was valued at $15.7 million.