$2.5 million kickstart for Kia Kaha projects

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AN immediate cash injection of $2.5 million from the Government will go towards a suite of projects aimed at transforming the Whakatāne riverfront and CBD, boosting employment and stimulating the regional economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters confirmed the funding boost at a hui held at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne today. The latest Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) contribution is in addition to the $8.2 million of Kia Kaha Whakatāne funding for worker redeployment announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones last week.

It also comes on top of the Government’s $19.6 million for a new boat harbour development, and $9.6 million for the Riverfront Revitalisation project. The immediate funding means these projects will be able to progress through the necessary steps quicker, giving the local economy a much needed boost sooner.

Whakatane Mayor Judy Turner said this latest investment would be able to deliver the equivalent of 160 full-time jobs in the next six weeks, with more than 100 jobs able to start immediately and some workers already on site.

“Getting these important roading, infrastructure and environmental projects happening quickly will provide urgent economic relief for the workforce, particularly those who have lost jobs through Covid-19.

“We’ll be able to support local contractors to take on workers, coordinate with the Ministry of Social Development to secure positions for those most impacted, and provide an opportunity for training and career development.”

She said continued Government support was a huge boost for the region after major setbacks with the Whakaari/White Island eruption in and Covid-19.

“Whakatāne has been hit hard in the past six months, but we will rebuild and recover — these environmental and infrastructure projects allow us to get real people into real jobs, right now.”

Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said the projects were a shining example of partnership which would foster a vibrancy and optimism in the community as well as contributing to regional economic recovery and development.

Kia Kaha Whakatāne projects:

  • Roading — the formation of two right-turn bays off Wainui Road, and improvements to Bunyan Road
  • Parks and Reserves — the maintenance of park equipment and improved amenity of park areas
  • Three Waters — projects to inspect, verify and monitor Three Waters infrastructure, and training opportunities to develop skills in this area
  • Removal of wilding trees and plant pests from road reserves and riverbanks
  • Improvements to walking tracks and riparian margins and upgraded access to bait station lines

Benefits from boat harbour and riverfront revitalisation projects by numbers:

  • More than 450 jobs by 2030 (direct and indirect)
  • More than 930 new jobs by 2050 (direct and indirect)
  • More than $80m local GDP growth per annum
  • Opportunity to attract $100m private investment in CBD
  • $111m additional GDP contribution by 2050