A $10.6 million government loan for a water storage facility in a remote eastern Bay of Plenty community will help facilitate high-value horticulture in the region, says the Regional Economic Development Minister.
Shane Jones has announced the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment for the facility at Raukokere.
He said the landowner, Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust, would use the investment - in the form of a loan - to design and build the water storage scheme that would act as a catalyst for under-utilised, under-developed Māori land.
"The key focus of this project is to change low productivity land to land that will support high-value horticulture.
"The water storage facility will be key to growth in the primary sector industries, leading to increased jobs in the area. The long-neglected eastern Bay of Plenty faces an uphill battle in increasing regional economic growth and the rewards that brings such as higher wages and more job opportunities," said Jones.
The scheme is intended to help develop 200-300ha of high-value horticultural land, with the capacity to grow to 900ha over time.
A co-operative entity will be established to own and operate the scheme with the water users expected to be shareholders.
Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust previously received a PGF grant of $950,600 for a feasibility study which found there was significant potential in the development of a water storage scheme.
In addition to the $10.6m loan announced today, Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust will receive $894,161 to start a 20ha macadamia orchard.
This investment was part of the $30m Whenua Māori investment announced at Waitangi earlier this month.
Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust represents hapū in Raukokere and Waihau Bay.