A Kaikohe win for us all

Published on 16 July 2020

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On Monday, the Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones announced $19.5 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for our Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park project. This was a huge vote of confidence in our vision to boost business and employment – not only for Kaikohe, but for the entire district.

You may recall that in March 2018, the Council began this journey by committing $5m to buy a dairy farm at Ngawha. Our goal was to turn it into a ''market ready'' industrial park that would attract industry to Kaikohe and create jobs. The park would have key infrastructure and resource consents in place. It could also provide access to uninterrupted and abundant power from the nearby Ngawha geothermal power station.

It was a bold step into new territory, but we were confident our commercial company, Far North Holdings, had the experience and ability to transform the vision into reality. That belief was not misplaced. I am hugely impressed with the progress Andy Nock and his team have made. Within 12 months, the Provincial Growth Fund had allocated $890,000 for a business case study, site assessment, and preparation of applications for plan changes and resource consents. Northland Inc, government agencies, iwi, sector specialists, engineers, architects and planning and economic development experts have since helped Far North Holdings develop a business case and discussions with potential tenants and partners are well advanced. Businesses that have signalled their interest include the honey industry, manuka oil extraction, covered horticulture, pre-fabricated housing, and education and training.

The Provincial Growth Fund announcement on Monday commits a further $19.5 million for key infrastructure work including site preparation, roading and drainage. This will be released in two parts. An initial $1.5 million will enable Far North Holdings to complete work on detailed engineering designs, planning and the tender process. When successfully completed, the government will release the remaining $18 million and earthworks, roading and infrastructure work can begin in September.

We estimate this work could involve up to 150 workers, while construction of buildings and other facilities will involve hundreds more. Longer term, we see potential to create 250 new jobs during stage one of the project, and investment of up to $70.8 million from business.

There is still much to do. We must secure commitment from tenants so we can achieve the critical mass needed to make the park viable over the long term. Today’s announcement will help. It demonstrates to the business world and our partners that the Council not only has vision – we deliver.

No other organisation in the Far North has staff with the mix of skills and experience we do. That is important, especially now when there is so much economic uncertainty. By playing to our strengths and working closely with our partners, we will play an important part in boosting the economic and social wellbeing of Kaikohe. That is good news for everybody, and will help make the Far North a great place to live.