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West Coast tackles economic growth with new $36.8m plan

Hon Simon Bridges
Minister for Economic Development
Hon Louise Upston

Associate Minister for Primary Industries

13 July 2017

Media Statement

West Coast tackles economic growth with new $36.8m action plan

The Government has joined the West Coast region to launch the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Action Plan in Hokitika today.

The Action Plan identifies five priorities for lifting economic growth - better economic development support, growing the West Coast visitor economy, making it easier to invest and do business, supporting economic diversification, and improving connectivity and infrastructure.

“The Government is committed to supporting the West Coast economy to grow and become more resilient. That’s why we’re partnering with the region through this Action Plan to invest up to $36.8 million in areas like tourism, ICT and primary industries,” Mr Bridges says.

“This includes $11 million for a new Regional Research Institute that will use innovative research and manufacturing techniques to unlock the potential of New Zealand’s minerals resources.

“As part of the 2016 Growth Study, opportunities were identified in sectors that could provide future employment. This is now the catalyst for implementing a number of projects including investing in growing the Coast’s digital economy.

“Connectivity, and enabling people and businesses to make the most of this connectivity, is vital for the region to grow, and to attract and retain digital businesses, entrepreneurs and skills,” Mr Bridges says.

“The West Coast’s natural resources and its microclimates are encouraging a number of niche primary sector initiatives which are outlined in the action plan,” Ms Upston says.

“We want to see if we can grow these industries into something bigger as they could provide substantial future employment opportunities.”

Ms Upston said whitebaiting is iconic to the West Coast and there are only a few commercial whitebait operations.

“An initiative in the Plan will look at potential risks to the sustainability of whitebaiting, as well as at protecting spawning sites. This work has the long term goal of developing a sustainable wild whitebait fishery on the West Coast,” Ms Upston says

In addition, the government will look at options to change legislation enabling ongoing access to timber on Public Conservation Land that is felled as a result of natural events.

Another initiative will explore using a social enterprise approach to developing new opportunities for horticulture, food and beverage in Karamea, and potentially throughout the region.

The implementation of the Plan will be overseen by the West Coast Regional Growth Governance Group with support from central government’s Regional Growth Programme.

Background for editors

Regional economic development is a key part of the government’s Business Growth Agenda and the West Coast was included in the Government’s Regional Growth Programme in November 2015. The programme aims to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand. More information can be found at
Government Funding of Action Plan Initiatives
Action Contribution
Regional Research Institute $11,000,000
Replacement of one of the last single-lane bridges in the region - Ahaura Bridge on State Highway 7 between Greymouth and Springs Junction – with a new two lane bridge $15,000,000
Stony Creek Bridge $3,500,000
Development of the Oparara Arches as an iconic visitor attraction or building the Kawatiri (Charleston to Westport) Coastal Trail $3,000,000
Feasibility Tourism projects (Kawatiri, Oparara and Paparoa) $150,000
Future-proofing Punakaiki infrastructure $1,800,000
Funding the Digital Economy Action Plan $1,000,000
Extension of Hokitika Gorge track $850,000
Franz Josef future proofing against flooding and earthquakes investigation $220,000
Research into establishing a sustainable whitebait fishery, with co-funding from the region $125,000
Maori Tourism Strategy $70,000
Economic Development Arrangements on West Coast $70,000
Horticulture-based social enterprise initiative $35,000
Total $36,820,000

Regional contribution is: $1.890 million, including $1.175 million from Development West Coast


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