Shane Jones wants his Northland 'nephews' to get off the couch and work for the dole

Recent comments by the new Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones telling his "nephews" to get off the couch and work for the dole have caused a stir in his Northland hometown.

Speaking on TVNZ1's Q+A on Sunday about the government's proposed work for the dole scheme, Mr Jones gave a strong message.

"I am not going to remain silent while my young near-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victim to the gangs."

Northland has more than 16,000 people receiving some sort of unemployment benefit and around six per cent of the region is unemployed, making it one of the highest rates in the country.

Locals in Mr Jones' hometown of Kaitaia are divided over the Mr Jones' comments.

The new Regional Economic Development Minister said out of work Kiwis could be planting trees, instead of migrant workers. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's not good forcing people into anything is it? They're going to rebel some way," one man told 1 NEWS.

However, two of Mr Jones real nephews agree with him about people working for the dole.

"We have so many opportunities out there that we can activate that we can participate in the economics of this country, like forestry and agriculture," business owner Herekia Murray said.

Another of Mr Jones real nephews was recently on the dole but has now found employment.

"I've got mates on the dole sitting on the couch they're watching TV they're playing a PS3 that they're paying off," Tiriti Harrison said.

Whatever the outcome locals and nephews alike will be hoping uncle Shane's plans for the region will get results.

The new Minister for Regional Development has been blunt about those with work shy attitudes. Source: 1 NEWS