Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said that the Provincial Growth Fund would be investing NZ$79.4 million to develop Ōpōtiki Harbour to help, “unlock the full aquaculture potential on Ōpōtiki’s doorstep”.
“This decision from central government is the culmination of 15 years of hard graft by the Council, Whakatōhea, private businesses and the wider community to bring this vision to reality,” said Ōpōtiki Mayor, Lyn Riesterer.
“Our figures and planning have held up under intense scrutiny and we are thrilled that this is on the cusp of becoming a reality.
“We are what we like to call ‘spade-ready’. Short of having money in our account to start spending on people and materials, we are ready to go. We have the contracts and consents and the project plans. This funding is our green light.
“The harbour and its associated industry is a game changer for Ōpōtiki. This is the start of a new era for our district – new jobs, new industry and a new way forward. And we are more than ready to grab this opportunity with both hands – get our rangatahi [young people] into real, long term and meaningful work. I can’t wait to see the innovative future we build for ourselves with this kick start.”
The $79.4 million funding announcement was made by Ministers Jones and Nash at the Infrastructure Conference in Auckland. The funding is in addition to $20 million pledged by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in 2013 as part of its Regional Infrastructure Fund. This funding established the local and regional commitment to the project. In the years since, the Eastern Bay councils have continued to work closely and align the area’s long term vision and regional funding projects.
Former Mayor, John Forbes, has advocated for this outcome for more than 20 years and said it was a proud moment for the whole community.
“This project is an excellent example of central, regional and local government working together in partnership with iwi, industry and private businesses to bring the best outcome not just for us here in Ōpōtiki, but also for the region and for the nation.
“It is conventional infrastructure – like a road or a railway line or high speed internet – it underpins our economy. Where infrastructure goes, it enables new industry, new opportunities and growth.
“This project will boost New Zealand’s growing aquaculture industry and make us world-leaders in sustainable, high-value protein production. All in an area of provincial New Zealand that has a recent history of high deprivation and under employment.
“Ōpōtiki is using this exciting piece of infrastructure to transform the social and economic future for the district,” Mr Forbes said.
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