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District economic plan outlined

At the Kaipara Kickstart announcement were left to right Georgina Connelly of Te Uri o Hau, Snow Tane,Te Roroa, Minister Shane Jones and Mayor Jason Smith

Kaipara’s grant of $28.2 million from government coffers means the district’s needs have “reached the highest levels” of government and the funds will be stretched as far as possible to benefit the region, according to Mayor Jason Smith.

The major share of the money is destined for roads, with harbour infrastructure and food production targeted for the balance, under the Kaipara Kickstart formula accepted by the government Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Mayor Smith describes the use of funding as “a three-legged stool.”

“While immediately obvious to us as Kaipara locals, to other people further away — which is all the cabinet ministers, senior government staff, etc — they may sound far out until they ‘get it’. So when the prime minister in her speech at Otamatea Marae talked about Kaipara’s significant underinvestment in roads over many years I thought: they’ve understood at long last — the message has got to the highest level.

“At a personal level for me securing these grants are the best achievement of my first year as mayor of Kaipara District. The team that put together the details has shown vision, courage and hope for a better tomorrow for Kaipara.

“We’re committed to stretching every dollar as far as we can. We still have a long way to go, but this is a very good kickstart for Kaipara’s economy.

“Getting road funding was the most important place to start. Roads connect everybody to everyone else, their products to markets, communities to communities and services.”

Developing harbour facilities could centre on “two projects already planned but stalled. Kaipara Development Agency in 2002 conducted a design and feasibility study for a wharf at Pouto. That proposed wharf has not been constructed due to lack of funds”. A second stalled project was a proposed pontoon at Dargaville wharf.

“A future Kaipara Moana public transport opportunity exists to be built on a new network of wharves connecting Kaipara communities with each other and also connecting with Auckland.“

Food production was the ‘third leg of the stool’. “With the most versatile soils, the Kaipara can become the food bowl for Auckland.

A food industry development project will build on the 2001-2002 Topoclimate Study for the Hokianga and Western Kaipara, updating its crops and extending its area around the Kaipara Harbour to include Mangawhai, Wellsford and Tapora.

The Kaipara can grow to celebrate the heart of its name and its place as a key food, agriturismo destination.”

“The three parts of the Kaipara Kickstart fit together — new crops and foods being produced and transported on better local roads or by wharves for access to markets. Visitors arriving by sea to beautiful farms for food tourism experiences, local people proud of doing what they do best.

Other people wanting to be part of the Kaipara and making inward investment decisions that improve and further develop this.

“This is about making better what we already do well or have done well in the past. It’s an integrated plan where all local people will benefit and is intended to kickstart Kaipara economic development.”

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