Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 14 June 2018

Banking on our positive growth

Last week, ASB Bank chief economist Nick Tuffley confirmed what most of Northland already knows - our region is experiencing significant economic growth.

According to the bank, Northland jumped from seventh to become the country's top regional economic performer in the last quarter. This was according to the ASB Regional Economic Scorecard, a quarterly tally of how each region measures up on employment, construction, retail trade, house prices and new car sales.

Northland achieved five-star ratings across all the bank's indicators, but was especially impressive on jobs, which increased 4.6 per cent over the year, and retail sales, which climbed more than 5 per cent.

This backs what Council has been seeing. Our planners processed a record number of resource and building consents over the past 12 months, and traffic volumes on our roads increase year on year. Bay of Islands Airport - currently undergoing refurbishment - is one of the fastest growing regional airports in the country.

We are working hard to cater for this growth. Earlier this year the Council agreed to invest $5 million through Far North Holdings to create a market-ready industrial park at Ngawha. By harnessing cheap power from Ngawha geothermal power station, we aim to attract industry and jobs to feed our growing district.

In Kerikeri, the new wastewater project is on track for completion in a year's time, tripling the capacity of the existing treatment plant and greatly expanding our ability to cater for growth.

Our Long Term Plan (LTP), which we've just deliberated on, also focuses strongly on promoting growth where it's most needed. We aim to upgrade Kaitaia's aging wastewater system, while in Kaikohe we have proposed working with key partners to build an $11.8 million community and civic hub for the town.

In Kawakawa, the LTP proposes to support creation of a tourism hub by funding construction of public toilet and shower facilities, as well as a public square that will encourage visitors to the famous Hundertwasser Toilets to stay longer in the town. This 10-year blueprint will be our commitment to making the Far North a great place to live for all our residents. Meeting the demands that growth places on our funds and infrastructure will be central to that goal.

But infrastructure projects like these are only part of the story. I remain acutely aware of serious social issues many of our communities struggle with. We are working with Central Government to find solutions to these problems.

I was heartened by a recent Housing New Zealand announcement to build new homes in our district and by several Provincial Growth Fund announcements that will provide new opportunities for employment.

One example is the just announced joint venture with Te Uru Rakau and Ngati Hine Forestry Trust to plant 3600 hectares of pine trees in the district. We aim to capitalise on all these initiatives when we adopt our new Long Term Plan on 28 June.



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