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Redeployment Ramps Up

The Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme may be in response to the impacts of COVID-19 virus but the $23.755m package will provide so much more for the region.

While it initially aimed to assist displaced forestry workers, the scope has now been broadened to include all who have been affected by COVID-19, with people already having completed training and started their new jobs under the initiative. The programme encompasses five key projects and aims to provide work and training for up to 200 people.

“At the very heart of each are the displaced workers who will have meaningful employment with the opportunity for training, new qualifications, additional skills and the possibility of long term jobs,” says Mayor Rehette Stoltz. “The difference this will make to whānau in our region is phenomenal. There is a real sense of excitement and anticipation about this already coming through.”

While the nation was in lockdown, plenty has gone on behind the scenes and when New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 everything was ready to go, with phone interviews done to ensure projects could start as soon as possible. Thirty-eight people are already working on projects.

These include environmental work across the rohe including on Titirangi (Kaiti Hill), parks and coastal beaches, the re-metalling of unsealed roads throughout the region and the clearance of hazardous trees from local routes. Eastland Group has been subcontracted to remove trees from powerlines in partnership with local arborists, while Trust Tairāwhiti are doing workforce development plans for key sectors to assist with the economic recovery of the region.

Workers who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 are referred into the programme from the Ministry of Social Development.

The $23.755m Programme is part of $28.205m allocated to Tairāwhiti in March, with the remainder going to local Government agencies, the Ministry of Social Development, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Transport Agency and Ministry of Primary Industries.

It is part of a wider $100m national Government redeployment package. Ministers Phil Twyford, Shane Jones and Willie Jackson came to Gisborne to make the announcement and congratulated Council along with Eastland Wood Council, Eastland Port, local iwi, Trust Tairāwhiti, Eastland Group and central Government agencies for their pro-activeness. The unity had been key to Government’s swift response which saw Tairāwhiti as the first region to receive the financial support.

As the impacts of COVID were felt, other industries began to feel the full effect as New Zealand shut down. Now, as alert levels are lessened, businesses can tentatively start back up while the forestry industry appears to be bouncing back, with log exports underway and crews heading back out into the forests.

“Creating employment pathways like these means long-term solutions for Tairāwhiti,” says Mayor Stoltz. “As a Council we are committed to doing our part in paving the way for the economic recovery of our region. This is a big help for many while also benefiting the wider community.”

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