Government announces $20 million for schemes tackling meth harm

"Meth use is killing regional New Zealand."
"Meth use is killing regional New Zealand." Photo credit: Getty.

The Government has announced $20 million in funding for a set of regional schemes to tackle methamphetamine use, reduce harm, and support addicts.

In a joint statement on Saturday, Regional Economic Development Shane Jones and Police Minister Stuart Nash identified nine community-based providers across Northland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Tairāwhiti and Otago working to eliminate the use of meth in their regions. Each will receive a portion of the total funding to scale up their programmes.

The recipient of the largest amount of funding is Manaaki Tairāwhiti's Whakapono Whānau programme, which will "deliver a support mechanism for addicts and whānau from recovery to work-ready status". It will receive $2.88 million for three years, assisting up to 350 whānau annually and creating 7.7 full-time jobs. 

"Meth use is killing regional New Zealand. Community and industry leaders have told us of the deep and widespread impact it is having," Jones said.

"People who use drugs cannot get and sustain employment. That is bad for workers, their whānau, local employers who need a reliable workforce and ultimately the regional economy.

"The Provincial Development Unit is working with Police and the Ministry of Health to identify regional providers who have programmes to reduce the harm, with a long-term plan to eliminate the drug from our regions."

Nash said 1.8 tonnes of meth was seized by police and Customs last year, which is three times more than in 2018. In the first half of 2020, 38 clandestine meth labs have been busted by police. Some of the funding announced on Saturday will go towards targeting gangs. 

"Many New Zealanders know someone through their family, workplaces or friendships who has been harmed by meth. They have seen first-hand the deterioration in loved ones caught in the grip of addiction," the Police Minister said.

A full list of projects receiving funding can be found here.