Government announces $70 million to projects on Māori-owned land

The Government has announced $70 million in regional funding on Māori-owned land, with 30 initiatives worth $30 million around the country signed off and $40 million still under assessment.

Part of the money went towards expanding blueberry production in the Far North. Source: Breakfast

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones said the funding was "integral to developing our regional economies and providing Māori landowners the opportunity to create their own wealth, raise incomes and wellbeing".

"The Whenua Māori allocation assists Māori with access to financial capital, which remains a challenge for landowners as the special status of their land means commercial banks are less willing to lend to them," Mr Jones said today.

"Some landowners need to do some very fundamental work to remediate their land after poor lease arrangements over long periods of time or because land has reverted to gorse or unproductive scrub."

The Whenua Māori allocation within the Provincial Growth Fund saw investment in projects such as developing New Zealand's first commercial taro plantation, expanding blueberry production in the Far North and to upgrade the Waitomo Glowworm Caves facilities.

Also included in the funding block was the development of a macadamia orchard in the Bay of Plenty, creating access to Māori land to build a mountain bike track in Waikato and more than $4 million went to a cherry orchard in Hawke's Bay.

"Other landowners nationwide are forming collectives with neighbouring landowners to increase commercial viability," Mr Jones says.

"This will unleash the economic potential of their land and lead to improved productivity, greater returns for their beneficiaries and increased local jobs."