PM and govt officials announce multi-million dollar injection into Northland
The Prime Minister and a gaggle of ministers were in Te Tai Tokerau yesterday on a charm offensive.
The Labour-led coalition announced close to $50 million will be invested to boost a region that's blighted by unemployment, sub-standard housing and a lack of transport infrastructure.
PM Jacinda Ardern says the government wants to turn things around for the north.
"Overall, this is about investing in the north, generating jobs opportunities, investing in infrastructure and things that local government and the communities have asked for support from government around."
She acknowledges New Zealand First for their huge consideration for the North.
"This has been possible in large part because of the provincial growth fund, and I acknowledge the work of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Shane Jones in making sure that that fund is leveraging all the potential that exists in this region."
The package includes investing $20 million into projects that create jobs; $9.9 million to support a cultural and tourist attraction; $8.7 million in social and state housing projects; $6.2 million for transport business cases; and, $500,000 to investigate rail opportunities in Northland.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says that Northland has been neglected for a long time.
"We campaigned seriously hard for the regions and the provinces because we believed that despite their export wealth creation for our country, they were being neglected."
There's also $4.4 million that Employment Minister Willie Jackson has set aside to train young people to find jobs in a programme called He Poutama Rangatahi.
"Particularly in this area, we've got to get them ready. Some of them are coming from hard backgrounds, intergenerational unemployment, so the government's investing in the community, investing in businesses and getting them ready for that job."
Time will tell whether the investment will be enough to change the fortunes of the north.