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Action plan to help grow Northland

Action plan to help grow Northland

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today announced a detailed action plan to invigorate Northland’s economy.

The Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan is part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, which is increasing jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.

Mr Joyce says the plan identifies 58 tangible actions that will contribute millions of dollars to the Northland economy.

“Nothing generates sustainable, high-paying jobs and boosts the standard of living better than business confidence and business investment, and this plan for Northland will build confidence among potential investors, from which more jobs and higher incomes will flow.

“New Zealand will not be able to realise its full economic potential until all our regions are thriving. Northland has shown good progress in recent quarters, with its unemployment rate dropping from around 8.1% before we commenced this programme in April 2014 to 6.2% in the latest labour force survey released yesterday. However there is a lot of work to do if we are to truly realise the potential of this resource-laden region of New Zealand.

”The most important part of this plan is that Northland’s key leaders are behind it and we are all pulling in the same direction. There has never been a better time to get Northland going.”

Mr Guy says the plan sets the stage for business growth by prioritising infrastructure improvements relating to transport, digital infrastructure, skills and capability, and water.

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“With those improvements under way, Northland can focus on turning its natural riches into economic gains. Manuka trees, honey, forestry and wood processing, aquaculture, horticulture and farming collectives are all headliners, along with a big push to increase both international and domestic visitor numbers.

“One example is in Te Hiku where the Ministry for Primary Industries is working with Maori trusts and incorporations to explore forming a Te Hiku sheep and beef farming collective. The findings so far show the collective could have the potential to double their meat production within three to five years of operation.”

The drafting of the plan was overseen by an advisory group, supported by Northland Inc with input from business and local iwi, along with local and central government agencies.

A large number of the projects in the Action Plan involve iwi/Māori and support the outcomes of He Tangata, He Whenua, He Oranga - the Māori Economic Development Strategy for Northland published by the Te Tai Tokerau Iwi Chief Executive’s Consortium in February 2015.

The Northland regional action plan complements the wider work of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“Key trade agreements like the Korean FTA and TPP, plus the Government’s resource management reforms and water reforms, are all an essential part of the growth story for Northland,” Mr Joyce says. “It is the combination of our national-level reform programme and the locally-focused regional action plan that will really lift the region’s economic performance.”

More information on the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan and the Regional Growth Programme can be found: HERE


Northland Action Plan launch – Questions and Answers

What is the Regional Growth Programme?

New Zealand’s economy is made up of diverse regions, each specialising in different activities depending on its natural resources, infrastructure and people. While they differ, each region has the potential to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment opportunities.

The Regional Growth Programme aims to leverage that potential by identifying growth opportunities in selected regions. The programme has been commissioned jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) working in partnership with stakeholders – businesses, iwi and Māori, and councils in each region.

The Programme comprises an independent study of the selected region, commissioned to identify and prioritise the commercial opportunities that have the most potential to sustainably grow investment, incomes and jobs. They also identify barriers to the realisation of these opportunities.

As each study is completed, government agencies are working in partnership with local government, businesses and iwi/ Māori to develop and implement Regional Economic Action Plans to leverage the identified opportunities in each region. The Action Plans provide a catalyst for central government agencies to work more closely with each other and with each region to achieve mutually agreed outcomes.

Five regions: Northland, the Bay of Plenty, Manawatu-Whanganui, the East Coast/Hawke’s Bay, and the West Coast are all part of this broad programme of work.

What is the regional growth study?

The Tai Tokerau Northland Growth Study: Opportunities Report, published in February 2015, was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Primary Industries, in partnership with the Northland region. The independent study was produced by MartinJenkins. It identified and prioritised which economic opportunities should be explored to grow Northland.

What is the purpose of the regional economic action plan?

The action plan turns the opportunities for economic growth identified by the Study into tangible actions to sustainably grow incomes, jobs and investment in Northland.

What other regions are currently included in the Regional Growth Programme?

• Tai Tokerau Northland

• Toi Moana Bay of Plenty

• East Coast (Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay)

• Manawatū-Whanganui

• Tai Poutini West Coast

Why was Northland chosen for the Regional Growth Programme?

Northland has been underperforming relative to other New Zealand regions for too long. Its economy has traditionally been based on primary production, which makes it vulnerable to world commodity prices.

The region has higher than national average unemployment and nominal GDP is about 32 per cent below the national average. It has a low proportion of working age people, and a higher than average proportion of the working age population gains income from social welfare. Northland also has a high proportion of young people not in education, employment or training.

However, the region has huge potential in:

• land and water with significant producing potential in forestry, agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture

• considerable Māori land holdings and investments that can make money for the people

• its safe marine environment

• mineral deposits

• land and sea that stuns international visitors

• deep tribal roots and stories to enchant visitors

• its proximity to New Zealand’s biggest city and business hub

• its young people.

What are some of the key actions of the plan?

Providing an enabling environment that attracts business investment into the region is a priority. This includes developing transport and digital infrastructure, focusing on skills development for the priority sectors in the region, and improving water storage and management. Key projects include developing pathways to employment in districts with high unemployment such as Kaikohe and Kaitaia.

Northland has an abundance of natural resources. Increasing the productive use of land and water resources across a range of primary sectors is a focus. Key projects are focused on developing forestry and wood processing opportunities, and better management of Maori land blocks.

Maximising the value of the growing tourism industry is also a focus. Key projects include improving regional tourism promotion, the dispersal across the region of quality tourism offerings to reduce the impact of seasonality and increase the duration of stays. Developing local skills to support the industry will be boosted by the provision of training at the QRC Tai Tokerau Resort College at Paihia.

Northland has strength in some areas of specialised manufacturing and opportunities for growth in some others. Key projects include supporting industries such as marine manufacturing with the infrastructure to develop their industry, and developing a sustainable resin and wax industry.

Who developed the action plan?

Following the launch of the Study, a Steering Committee was formed including representatives from central government agencies and local government to identify how best to draw out the opportunities in the Study building on known, potential and new projects within the region and map out an Action Plan to address these.

An Advisory Group was established consisting of leaders from industry, tangata whenua, central and local government. This group is charged with overseeing the implementation of the Action Plan, agreeing priorities and setting the strategic direction as the Action Plan progresses.

The Steering Committee and Advisory Group prepared the first draft of the Action Plan which was then refined following a range of engagements with partners and stakeholders across the region.

What input have Northland people, businesses and iwi/Māori had into this plan?

Most of the individual actions have been developed with those people and agencies within the region, and across local and central government, who are involved in the projects. Many of the land and water actions have been developed with the support of iwi/Māori land owners.

Who owns the action plan?

The Action Plan represents a partnership between industry, Iwi/Māori, and central and local government. Each has a part to play. This partnership is facilitated by Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency for Northland.

What tangible benefits will Northland people see from this plan?

The Study on which the action plan is based was the first comprehensive review of Northland’s current economic position and future potential in several years. It identified that investors see huge potential in Northland, but need to be sure of a solid platform. This action plan will give business the confidence to invest.

Councils, iwi/Māori, the Government and business agree on what needs to be done and are working in partnership to achieve the plan’s desired outcomes, which include:

• Northland needs transport – Northland is speaking with one voice to the Government about the roads it wants.

• Northland land needs water everyday – Northland is storing and managing water to make its land more productive.

• Northland needs to be online – Northland is connected at good speed and is selling the value of the web to local people.

• Northland needs skilled and capable workers – Northland is bridging the gaps between education, training and work.

How much will the plan cost?

The cost of individual projects within the Action Plan is difficult to quantify as it is dependent on factors such as commercial procurement processes, approval of business cases and confirmation from individual funding partners.

What is the action plan’s monetary value to Northland?

The upfront value of the actions to the Northland economy cannot yet be meaningfully assessed. Each of the projects will be individually evaluated and monitored over time.

If the plan is successful in driving economic growth, significant gains for Northland will stem from more investment in the region and more local people in jobs/training and earning higher incomes.

How long will it take to see results?

The plan charts a series of actions that are designed to get Northland’s economy going in the short to medium term, covering 10 years. It is a first iteration – over the coming 12 months, further actions will be added to the plan.

It is designed to inspire confidence in investors. Business confidence and growth generates sustainable, high-paying jobs and boosts the standard of living.

What is the Government doing to support growth in the regions? How does this work link to the action plan?

Two of the Government’s important programmes that focus on increasing business confidence and growth in the regions are the Business Growth Agenda and the Regional Growth Programme. MBIE is responsible for managing the Business Growth Agenda, and MBIE and MPI manage the Regional Growth Programme.

The Business Growth Agenda is designed to lift economic growth across the country. It recognises the importance of the regions to New Zealand, and particularly the Māori economy, and is improving infrastructure, such as ultra-fast broadband and roading, supporting businesses and exporters, attracting investors, supporting research and innovation, lifting skills and training, and encouraging new tourism opportunities.

The Regional Growth Programme provides intensive support for selected regions to attract further investment, raise incomes and grow jobs. In each region, the Government works in partnership with local businesses, iwi/Māori and councils. In the first stage of the programme, the Government commissions an independent study to identify and prioritise commercial opportunities in the region that have the most potential, and the barriers to realising these.

In the second stage, the Government/regional partnership develops an action plan to work through the barriers and start doing the work. The Regional Growth Programme is under way in Tai Tokerau Northland, Toi Moana Bay of Plenty, East Coast/Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu-Whanganui, and Tai Poutini West Coast.

The result will be an economy in which all of our regions have the opportunity to grow and thrive.

How will the plan support Māori economic development in Northland?

The Government has been clear in its commitment to raising Māori economic performance. For the goals of He Kai Kei Aku Ringa – The Crown – Māori Economic Growth Partnership to be realised, action must be taken to support the Māori population in Northland.

He Kai Kei Aku Ringa means ‘to provide the food you need with your own hands’. This concept of economic independence or self-sufficiency is a fundamental principle for Māori. The full potential for Northland will be achieved only if iwi/Māori actively work to raise the use and productivity of their land and increase the skills, employment and incomes of the region’s poorest whānau.

He Tangata, He Whenua, He Oranga, the Māori Economic Development Strategy for Northland was published in February 2015 by the Te Tai Tokerau Iwi Chief Executive’s Consortium. It identified an important strategic alignment with the Regional Growth Study. It also said that “investment targeted towards the priorities identified for the Tai Tokerau Māori economy offer a massive opportunity to radically alter the economic profile of the region”.

This is mirrored by opportunities identified in the study, many of which will need strong Māori leadership in the region if they are to be realised.

Why has there not been a big investment in a larger, single action?

Incremental improvements across all aspects of the region’s infrastructure and social indicators are needed to create a solid platform from which the region can grow. This will in turn encourage business to invest and add value to the rich natural resources the region boasts.

Does the action plan reflect all of the opportunities identified in the Regional Growth Study?

The aim of the action plan is to prioritise opportunities and actions that will stimulate growth in the short to medium term. This means that some of the opportunities identified in the study are not addressed in the Action Plan. It does not mean that they are forgotten or that they are not relevant, rather that resources are being allocated to actions where steps taken now will result in longer term growth.

Why is the Government supporting the Hundertwasser Centre?

The Hundertwasser centre has been identified by several independent analysts as likely to bring significant economic benefits to Northland – mainly through encouraging more tourists to visit. These estimates of economic benefits range from $2.2 million to $4.8 million with a consensus around a mid-point of $3.5 million per annum.

Hundertwasser was a significant twentieth century artist, architect and environmentalist. He was a naturalised New Zealander and spent much of the latter years of his life working in Northland.

The project was identified as a priority for Northland. It has considerable community and iwi support in Whangarei. In a referendum in June 2015, the Centre was clearly the preferred option for the use of the Old Harbour Building in Whangarei.

What will be in the Centre?

The Centre will have four key elements: a Hundertwasser Gallery displaying his work; a Māori Gallery featuring contemporary Maori art; a learning centre; and the building itself, which is regarded as an iconic architectural work. The fully accredited education centre will become a recognised learning centre for the study of Maori fine art and designated international art, together with Hundertwasser’s environmental legacies and philosophy.

The Centre will be the only (apart from the Kawakawa toilets) Hundertwasser-designed building in New Zealand. Therefore it is expected to prove a significant attraction for international and domestic tourists and will draw additional visitors to Northland (particularly during the tourism shoulder season).

Is the Whangarei District Council in favour?

Yes, although in 2014 councillors voted to reduce the Council’s original $8 million contribution to the construction costs, the project remains in the Council’s Long Term Plan. A Council contribution of around $3 million has been confirmed, and Whangarei representatives supported the Centre’s inclusion in the Northland Economic Action Plan.

Where is the money coming from?

Because the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery did not fit the criteria for any existing funding schemes, the Government intends make a specific provision for the Centre in Budget 2016.

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