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Water investment to unlock land potential

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $18.5 million in water storage to unlock land use potential in the Mid North, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Economic Development Minister David Parker announced today.

“Up to $18.5 million will be invested to help investigate and, if feasible, construct community-scale water storage and use options in Kaipara and Mid North,” Shane Jones said.

“This project is the largest PGF investment to date in water storage. Regional Economic Development Ministers backed the proposal because of the real opportunities that ensuring a more reliable water supply could bring to the region – up to $150m in increased horticulture earnings per year and up to 1150 jobs created.

“The region is vulnerable to droughts and floods, so better access to water will give landowners greater options to utilise their land, develop new markets and maintain and grow a skilled workforce.

“This project is relatively small in scale, compared to proposed water projects in the past, and enjoys wide support from local government. It will alleviate pressure on surface and groundwater resources, and will reduce sedimentation, a key water quality issue for the region, as land use shifts towards horticulture.

“It will also mean better access to water for use on Māori-owned land – the development of which is a key objective for the PGF.”

David Parker said the aspirations of Māori, who did not want to be locked out of access to water for use on undeveloped land, needed to be dealt with.

“This is an example of that. The Government is trying to solve this for all New Zealanders.” David Parker said.

The funding will be used first for initial feasibility work, then any potential construction phase, with stop or go points at each stage to allow a re-evaluation.

“Developing water storage is a complex and time consuming exercise, requiring high calibre technical regulatory, environmental and commercial capability,” Shane Jones said.

“The feasibility work will include technical, environmental and economic analysis, as well as activities to get the project ready to start construction. This includes engagement with the local community to ensure they benefit from any proposed scheme.

Northland Regional Council will receive the funding and will work with other councils in the region, iwi and the community to undertake the necessary work required to support the project’s construction.

“Last year, Cabinet approved guidelines for PGF investment into water storage. These include ensuring such investments enjoy wide local support, strengthen regional economies, encourage the development of Māori land, and do not put added strain on the environment.

“I’m pleased this project will be developed in a way that meets these standards. The Mid North has massive potential and after years of neglect we’re unlocking this through the PGF,” Shane Jones said.

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