Government to fund $19.5 million 'Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence' in Gisborne

Shane Jone said the centre would lead to higher-value forestry products being produced
Shane Jone said the centre would lead to higher-value forestry products being produced Photo credit: Getty

The Government is to contribute $19.5 million to establish a Wood Cluster Centre of Excellence in Gisborne.

The funding was announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today, and is part of $27.1 million extra for the region from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Jones said the centre was being developed as a hub for wood processing, wood products, marketing and distribution, and training and research.

"This first funding tranche will be for $5 million and will generate at least 30 full-time jobs," he said.

He said it was expected that employment would continue to grow as the centre was developed in stages. 

"Forestry is a significant economic driver in Tairāwhiti and we want to make sure the region is able to take full advantage of the opportunities the sector provides," said Jones.

"The $19.5 million investment is a commitment to the region. This will lead to higher-value forestry products being produced and more money going back into the community via pay packets for local workers."

Other Gisborne projects announced for funding were the Matai Medical Research Institute which receives $6 million.

It is looking to establish a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) lab in Gisborne to get a better understanding of the brain, heart and body, with a focus on the fast-emerging field of traumatic brain injury.

The Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust will receive up to $2 million for the construction of a food processing facility to help get more long-term unemployed people into jobs. 

Jones said the Charitable Trust currently employs about 22 people in a variety of roles and provides pastoral care to keep people in work. 

"Today's funding will enable it to accelerate its training and place long-term unemployed people, or those not in education, employment or training into jobs and on the path to independence."

The  $27.1 million is in addition to the $152 million already committed to the region from the PGF.