'Work-for-the-dole' plans actually 'work-for-minimum-wage' - Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's moved to clear up any confusion Shane Jones might have caused with his push for a new 'work-for-the-dole' scheme.

The Regional Economic Development Minister said at the weekend he didn't want to "rely on Filipinos to plant my pine trees".

"There'll be no more sitting on the couch," he told TVNZ on Sunday.

"I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne'er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victim to the gangs... There's scores of young hoods in gangs. God knows how they still get a benefit, and they're a menace. I'm not having it."

If it goes ahead, the scheme will differ to past 'work-for-the-dole' programmes says Ms Ardern, because participants will actually get paid at least the minimum wage.

"The fact there will be a legal wage attached to it distinguishes it from some of those schemes in the past," she told The AM Show on Monday.

She said there's no point in 'work-for-the-dole' schemes that pay the same as the Jobseeker benefit.

"Where you replace real jobs - for instance forestry planting, which is a real job - with someone actually earning the dole, then you're replacing a real job for a lower wage."

Mr Jones has been allocated $1 billion to revitalise the provinces, and forestry planting is expected to be a big part of that.

"What we are trying to do here is enable regions and provinces to capture the full uplift of productivity. It will not happen unless the state is involved."

Cabinet is yet to approve Mr Jones' plan, but Ms Ardern is open to the idea.

"We're talking about transitioning people off the dole and into work. That's exactly what Mr Jones was talking about."

New Zealand's unemployment rate is presently 4.6 percent, the lowest it's been since 2007.