Big Boost For Chatham Islands’ Economy


The Chatham Islands will receive close to $40 million for
projects that will improve its infrastructure, add to its
attraction as a visitor destination, and create jobs through
a planned aquaculture venture, Infrastructure Minister Shane
Jones has announced.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had
a devastating impact on the islands, first through the
halting of crayfish and blue cod exports and then through
the drying up of livestock and wool sales. Fishing and
farming are the islands’ main sources of economic revenue.
This, coupled with a lack of tourism, has resulted in an
estimated of $20m in lost revenue to the island and
unemployment of up to 30 per cent,” Shane Jones
said.

The Government has agreed to provide $36 million
for an infrastructure project to lengthen and strengthen the
runway at Tuuta Airport, on Chatham Island.

“Every
study on the issues and opportunities for the Chatham
Islands economy has identified effective air services as
critical for sustainable growth,” Shane Jones
said.

“This new runway will allow larger planes to
use the airport, improving connectivity for those living on
the island, and for visitors. Doing this work now, which
includes associated infrastructure such as building,
lighting and fencing upgrades, is expected to future-proof
the airport for half a century.”

The project, which
is being overseen by Chatham Islands Airport Ltd, will
create up to 20 jobs during the construction stage. It is
expected to take about 18 months to complete.

In
addition to funding the airport redevelopment, Shane Jones
also announced a $2.15 million Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)
investment in projects to further boost the regional economy
through aquaculture, tourism and infrastructure.

A
total of $1.69 million has been allocated to two project to
develop a shellfish aquaculture industry on the Chatham
Islands. It is planned that the first farm will be
established at Whangamoe Inlet, providing up to 20
jobs.

“Chatham Islanders have a long connection to
the kaimoana industry. This project will diversify the
industry into shellfish and premium seafood smallgoods. It
will provide jobs and training opportunities for locals,
strengthen the local fishing industry, improve food security
and enhance biodiversity,” Shane Jones said.

Another
$490,000 has been allocated to help establish a dedicated
tourism manager for the Chathams to grow the tourism
sector.

“With the redevelopment of the airport, it
is crucial that the islands are well-placed to take
advantage of the potential that brings. There are many
attractions on the islands, including Moriori petroglyphs
and tree carvings. A new museum is being built, and the
number of accommodation providers is increasing.

“A
dedicated tourism manager for the islands could be a
game-changer in terms of attracting more visitors, and that
means New Zealanders, to explore this piece of our
country.”

The PGF is also providing $192,168 for a
new multi-purpose lines vehicle to replace the old and
non-compliant vehicle on which the entire islands rely for
maintaining the power supply.

“Chathams Islands
Electricity, which is the sole provider of reticulated
electricity in the Chatham Islands, is a subsidiary of the
not-for-profit Chathams Enterprise Trust. If the islands are
to grow their economy, it is essential they are able to
maintain a reliable power network. This new vehicle will
have be equipped with a mobile workshop and will be used for
pole installation, tree-trimming and lines and component
servicing,” Shane Jones said.

Through the One
Billion Trees Programme, the Chatham Islands will receive
more than $1 million for two projects.

Manukau Land
Trust will receive $856,635 to help restore indigenous flora
and fauna to a coastal area that has been cleared and grazed
for more than 100 years. It includes planting of 150ha,
including 140ha of indigenous species (hakapiri, kopi, hoho,
Chatham Islands nikau and rautini) and 10ha of eucalypts to
be used for timber and poles.

Chatham Islands Taiko
Trust will receive up to $163,505 to build and upgrade nine
micro-nurseries, and training eight nursery owners to a
Level 2 NZQA nursery production qualification and qualify
one experienced nursery owner to become a Level 2 assessor.
This will help the collective realise their goal of
producing an additional 62,500 seedlings per
year.

Finally, Crown Infrastructure Partners is
working to improve the connectivity on the Chatham Islands
for residents and businesses, through phase two of the Rural
Broadband Initiative and the PGF.

Through these
programmes, the islands’ internet satellite link to the
mainland will be upgraded to provide more capacity,
improving broadband speeds for residents on the
island.

As part of the programme, there will also be
some mobile coverage on the island for the first time, with
access to a mobile service from all three mobile operators
as well as improved broadband connectivity for residents.
This work is planned to start in the first half of
2021.

Whakamaharatanga Marae and Kōpinga Marae are
also having their broadband upgraded through the PGF marae
digital connectivity programme. Along with that work, both
will get new hardware and technical support. Both
connections are expected to be complete by
October.

“I am delighted to announce this package of
funding and work for this amazing part of New Zealand, which
is too often overlooked. It has suffered from a lack of
attention from central Government and I hope that this
package goes some way to helping the islands achieve greater
economic and social outcomes for the people who live there,
as well as becoming a must-see destination for visitors,”
Shane Jones said.

Editors notes

The
shovel-ready infrastructure project is being funded as part
of the investments announced by
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Shane Jones on July
1
to kick-start the post COVID-19 rebuild by creating
more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of
projects up and down New Zealand.

The $50 billion
COVID Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) set out in Budget
2020 earmarked $3 billion for infrastructure projects.
Ministers established the Infrastructure
Reference Group
(IRG) to work with local councils and
businesses to identify a pipeline of projects to support the
economy during the COVID-19 rebuild. Cabinet then decided
the key sectors and regional breakdown of funds with more
than 150 projects worth $2.6 billion being approved in
principle.

All approvals are in principle and subject
to contract negotiations. Investment values are also subject
to
change.

© Scoop Media

 



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