Concern over economic viability of one billion tree plan

A leading economist says he has reservations over the $1 billion-a-year cash injection promised for regional New Zealand.

New Zealand First MP Shane Jones will be responsible for the regional development fund, as well as the new Forestry Service, which aims to plant 1 billion trees over the next ten years.

The goal is to take jobs to the regions with roles in planting and nurseries.

But ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says while it's a clear win for the regions, he's surprised by the "sheer size of it".

"This is a significant amount of money to be put around the regions and a fair chunk of money looks like it will go into [forestry] as well.

"A lot of our population growth is in places like Auckland, but regions do really struggle with things like infrastructure and we have seen people leave regions to go to other places to get jobs."

But Mr Tuffley says it could be a good way to create jobs - if it's executed thoughtfully.

"We're growing a lot of trees but money doesn't grow on the trees so we do need to make sure we're getting that spending done very effectively.

"The issue always comes down to, yes we can spend a billion dollars on anything - that challenge is, where do you get that money from? So will we need to be reducing spending in other areas?"

Far North Mayor John Carter believes the regions have been left in the dark for too long.

"We're a region of huge opportunity. And we're poised to go.

"We are actually challenged by the demand of people we have wanting to come and live here. This will help us immensely."

Mr Carter has some advice to pass on to Mr Jones.

"Just come and keep talking with us and we'll talk with [you] and work with you."