TODAY |

Toll of Covid-19 hits Northland hard as region grapples with eight per cent unemployment rate

The impact Covid-19 has had in Northland has the region grappling with an unemployment rate double that of the rest of the country.

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A drive down the main street of Kaikohe shows the toll Covid-19 has had on the region. Source: 1 NEWS

As a result, heading into this year's election there is one topic on the mind of many in Northland - the biggest electorate in the country, where the unemployment rate has hit eight per cent.

Kaipara Mayor, Jason Smith says the region’s vulnerable are most in need of jobs.

“We're needing jobs for youth, for Māori, for young women, we're needing many jobs of many kinds, just not construction sector jobs,” he told 1 NEWS.

One of the big drivers of the Northland economy is logging and that means heavy trucks needing to use the neglected roads in the region.

“People are always talking about roads because they are so bad,” says Mr Smith.

Such a point of contention, that during the 2015 byelection, National made the now infamous pledge that the 10 single lane bridges would be double-laned.

And of those one lane bridges promised back in 2015, just Taipa and Matakohe have been completed, with construction due to begin shortly in Kaeo.

The rest, like the one just north of Kawakawa, look set to be ghost projects, with the costs outweighing the benefits.

But it's not just National that has been accused of throwing around the cash.

New Zealand First's Shane Jones is the man with the purse strings through the Provincial Growth Fund and Northland has been a big beneficiary.

Mr Jones may hold the keys to getting New Zealand First back into parliament but he's up against National's Matt King who has a strong majority and well known Labour list MP Willow Jean Prime.