A proposed kiwifruit development in the Eastern Bay of Plenty is to benefit from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), with funding of up to $13 million.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced the partnership with Te Kaha Landowners Group (TKG) and said it would accelerate the development of horticulture and create year-round employment for up to 175 people over three years.
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"This is an ambitious programme which includes the development of a water distribution network to enable the expansion of 100 hectares of a high-value kiwifruit orchard on Māori owned land and a trial nursery," he said.
"At the same time, our investment will accelerate a skills, training and employment programme to ensure an upskilled and work-ready workforce is ready to fill the jobs created," said Jones.
He said the funding would mean the group could finalise the first stage of their planning and consent applications, determining the viability of the water distribution and storage network, and nursery expansion planning.
"If this work is successful, the social and economic impact of this initiative could be life-changing for the communities of Te Kaha, Ōmāio and Raukokore."
Jones said the Eastern Bay of Plenty was home to some of New Zealand’s most isolated communities and represents some of the most challenging areas of rural deprivation.
"Full-time employment has not been readily available for most whānau in these regions for generations."
"The skills, training and employment programme is made up of core projects, including include the development of a trial kiwifruit nursery and science lab and an innovative living wage horticulture pilot project."
He said the combination of TKG’s commercial operation and its skills and employment programme has the potential to enhance productivity in Te Kaha and the surrounding Bay of Plenty and will create real jobs for locals.
TKG is made up of six ahu whenua trusts that each own gold variety kiwifruit orchards of around 80 hectares in Te Kaha and Ōmāio.