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Jim Sutton Speech For Opotiki SFF Project

Mr Sutton didn't get to deliver this speech, since Air NZ fouled up the flights, but a MAF representative, Kevin Steel, delivered on his behalf...

Hon Jim Sutton Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Trade Negotiations, Minister for Rural Affairs, Minister for Biosecurity

Speech Notes 28 June 2001

Embargoed until: 11.40am, 3 July 2001

Sustainable Farming Fund function, Opotiki

Tena koutou katoa.

I am delighted to be here this morning for such a worthwhile event. The Sustainable Farming Fund is a scheme very close to my heart.

During my time in Opposition, I felt there was a real need in the community for a scheme which could fund projects that would add value to the community. Often, people have bright ideas that founder for the lack of relatively small amounts of money needed to kickstart them.

Now, I am Minister of Rural Affairs and I was able to convince my colleagues of this need.

Treasurer Michael Cullen lent his support and the Sustainable Farming Fund was born.

More than 360 applications were received for the first round of allocations from the fund last year. Those applications were requesting about $25 million for projects ? five times as much money as was actually available.

To me, that showed there was a real need out there for the fund.

An independent panel of assessors went through all the application, and pared them done. In the end, 33 projects were approved, receiving about $4 million in funding.

Close scrutiny is being given to applications to ensure high-quality applications were funded. Project teams must met milestone targets throughout their project lifespan to continue receiving funding.

The taxpayer will get good returns for this investment.

So, that brings us to where we are today.

The resource kit helps owners of Maori land who want to develop their land. It explains land use options in clear, user-friendly terms.

It provides basic information owners can follow in order to develop their land ? 20 potential land use options, steps to establish organisational structure, options for sourcing capital, contacts of people available to provide assistance and training, and sources of more detailed information.

It's the first time all this information is available to owners of Maori land, collated in one folder like this, catering to Opotiki owners of Maori lands' specific needs.

A huge number of stakeholder groups have come on board to support this initiative.

A second round of projects are being allocated money from the Sustainable Farming Fund now, and it is expected that about 100 projects will receive about $10 million in assistance.

I am delighted to announce today that the Opotiki Development Team will be allocated another grant from the Sustainable Farming Fund to take the Maori Land Use Resource Kit nation-wide.

I understand there have already been many calls from people all over the country who are after the information the Opotiki kit holds. There is a lot of demand for this.

Trusts and incorporations working with the Opotiki Develoment Team on this kit have already exhibited faster progress in moving forward with the development of their land.

As part of going nationwide, the kit will have to be reworked ? more potential land uses, such as aquaculture and tourism, included ? take the website national, and trial it in a few other areas.

Interest in the Opotiki project has been high, and I am quite sure it will fulfill many needs in other parts of the country as well.

So today, we all have two reasons to celebrate: the sucessful birth of this kit for Opotiki; and the prospect of one for the rest of New Zealand.

Congratulations to everyone involved. You all have good reason to be proud of yourselves. As well as working well and hard together for the benefit of people in this region, you have contributed to the sustainable improvement of land use throughout our country.

Na reira,
tena koutou,
tena koutou,
tena koutou katoa.

Office of Hon Jim Sutton

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