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Waikato aviation initiative - Speech

Waikato aviation initiative

Speech to launch the Waikato's 2nd major regional initiative - developing the aviation industry.


Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Economic Development

Waikato Major Regional Initiative - Aviation

4.15PM Wednesday, 13 April 2005
Kingsgate Hotel
100 Garnett Ave



Mike Underhill, Chief Executive of WEL Network and chair of the Katolyst Group; Gary Taylor, CE Toll; Graham Smith, CE Business2Hamilton; John Rasmussen, CE Tourism Waikato, and my Parliamentary colleague Dianne Yates, MP for Hamilton East.

Martin Gallagher, MP for Hamilton West gives his apologies as he has pressing work in Parliament.

By now many of you in the aviation sector have heard me tell a story about a conference I went to in Auckland four years ago:

As I sat there, I listened to an international academic celebrity declare 'New Zealand would never have an aerospace industry.'

I knew there were light aircraft being built right here in the Waikato even as those words were being spoken.

I knew I was going directly from that event to the announcement of a new model of aeroplane being developed right here in the Waikato.

I knew aviation was a high-tech strength for this region.

That episode told us a lot.

It told us we have hidden talents in New Zealand; we need to do more to promote our skills and ensure our expertise is celebrated and admired.

But it also showed something much more profound:

We have depths of resourcefulness in New Zealand that are totally unexpected to the outsider.

The only people who will give wing to our ambitions is us.

New Zealanders have to take responsibility ourselves for realising the future we can have.

Others have no idea what we can achieve; how high we can soar or how fast we can fly.

We are a truly creative country; our history of innovation dates back to the dawn of our industrial age.

In 1903, before anyone else in the world had created a flying machine, a New Zealander, Richard Pearce, achieved powered flight.

We're used to having the freedom to try out new ideas in New Zealand.

It's bred a culture of creativity, and Richard Pearse was a spectacular example of the pioneering thinking we can produce.

Just as you have spent today discussing the potential of this region, I'm committed to unlocking the potential of New Zealand.

This Labour-Progressive coalition government set up New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to be a partner in that goal.

Its job is to work with regions and industries and unleash our potential.

It brings together as partners everyone who has a stake in this region's economic development.

It works to ensure regions build on their strengths and produce high-tech, high-skill, job-rich products the world wants to buy.

It works to develop the networks and depths of expertise we need to exploit those opportunities in global markets.

It was through this process we came to today's announcement of a new Major Regional Initiative for Waikato.

The region will receive $2 million from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's Regional Partnership Programme.

The funding will boost the Waikato's aviation cluster.

It will provide the financial support to establish the Waikato as the premier Australasian centre for light aircraft manufacturing and training.

So I congratulate WEL, Katolyst, Waikato's aviation businesses and their supporters and allies for coming together for this Major Regional Initiative.

Aviation is a significant strength for this region.

As our farming sector grew and sustained New Zealand through the twentieth century, the light aviation industry grew alongside it.

Those crop-dusters, and the transport demands of our rugged terrain made aviation a central component of our development.

Today the aviation sector is becoming one of New Zealand's most vibrant export success stories.

Five hundred aircraft have been built here over the last thirty years - more non-military aircraft than in any other centre in Australasia.

Here in the Waikato, the region's manufacturing expertise has seen it attract one of the world's largest pilot training organisations, CTC Aviation, to the region.

This is good news for the regional economy.

This Major Regional Initiative will build on the high-growth potential of the aviation sector in this region.

We can expect more investment, more foreign exchange earnings and more skills to result.

Combine these with innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship and we will have more jobs and higher incomes.

When high-growth sectors grow, the whole region benefits.

Growing regions attract more people and more services and that's good for all businesses in the region.

It's also good for social services - it's easier to keep schools, and hospitals (and bank branches) open when populations are growing and incomes are being earned.

The skills and technology spin-offs from high-growth sectors offer an opportunity for other businesses to cluster around as well.

This MRI is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when people work together in a common cause, with appropriate support from local agencies and central government.

I congratulate you all on the contributions you're making, as entrepreneurs and as agencies driving economic growth.

Your combined efforts will ensure that the people of Waikato get the levels of economic growth they need to help make this a prosperous and thriving region.

There are a lot of encouraging examples of development going on in this region.

International industries from aviation, to dairy, to agritech and biotech research, to tertiary education and manufacturing in steel, aluminium and plastics.

All of these are strengths for the region and there are exciting examples of development in each.

This region's first Major Regional Initiative was the Waikato Innovation Park.

Only last month I read that it signed a memorandum of understanding with a technology park in southwest China.

This agreement will hopefully make it easier for Waikato businesses to create commercial ties with a wide range of Chinese companies.

The Park is also working to breakdown the language barrier to further entry into China.

It's introducing Chinese students from the Management School to the inner workings of core companies within the AgBio Cluster.

Major Regional Initiatives can be instrumental in transforming regional economies.

A few parts of New Zealand are yet to get their first MRI underway.

So it is a tribute to this region that you are pushing strongly ahead on your second.

We need strong regions to have a strong national economy.

If we want to enjoy the living standards of a developed country, we need to provide our young people with an opportunity in the communities where they grow up.

We need to build on our existing strengths to take advantage of opportunities available to New Zealand.

This initiative is an excellent example.

We can be very confident about this region's economy - just as we can be confident about the New Zealand economy.

Though there will always be economic cycles, our economy has moved onto a faster growth plane.

Unemployment is down to the lowest level of any developed country.

Our growth rate outstripped Australia's and outstripped the average of developed countries over the last five years.

Last year the World Bank said the best country in the world for doing business is New Zealand.

We're ahead of the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

We're ahead of Europe and certainly ahead of Australia.

New Zealand is improving, we're going up the performance indicators.

The Labour-Progressive government's policy of working in partnership with regions and business is paying off.

You still have to work hard at it, and we have many obstacles still to overcome.

And therefore we are working at it every day, trying to overcome the barriers to development and unlock our potential.

We have some of the most creative and talented people in the world.

And there are communities around New Zealand working in partnership with central government to build on our strengths.

This exciting initiative is another example.

I congratulate you all on the contributions you're making.

As businesses, working people, educators, and as those with responsibilities for the region.

Everyone has a responsibility and a load to bear.

Your future is linked together inseparably.

It takes every member of the team to play their part.

It takes inspirational leaders.

But success and achievement should be the goal of everyone here.

Your combined efforts will ensure that the people of Waikato prosper and thrive.

It will help to create jobs and opportunities for young people growing up here.

It will offer them a future and hope for tomorrow.

I wish you good luck and I look forward to continuing to work closely with you and your region.


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