National | Infrastructure

Marine transport facility halfway between Tauranga and Gisborne receives government backing

The coalition government is supporting the creation of new marine infrastructure in northern Te Tairāwhiti on the North Island’s East Coast, infrastructure minister Shane Jones said in a statement released today.

The government has approved an allocation of up to $45 million to support the construction of a marine transport facility at a suitable bay to increase economic activity in the region and provide jobs to the area.

While it is unlikely the project will be underway within 12 months, the statement says government ministers want the $3 billion tagged contingency for infrastructure to support job creation in the immediate and longer-term future.

“Our officials will now work with local iwi, local businesses, coastal shipping operators, to develop a proposal that is economically viable and sustainable, has broad community and local and wider iwi support, and will create hundreds of jobs for locals,” Jones says.

“This part of New Zealand is among the most isolated, and economically and socially deprived regions in the country. The population is predominantly Māori and, according to the last census, the median income is only $18,500 and only a third of people are in fulltime employment.

Jones says the idea of a marine facility has been on the drawing board for a considerable time.

“The idea to create a marine facility for moving goods by sea has been mooted many times over many years. The suitable bays in northern Te Tairāwhiti area are halfway between the ports of Tauranga and Gisborne and creating a marine transport facility there could have significant benefits for local landowners. It would also result in reduced transport costs for businesses and farmers and get more freight trucks off the roads.

“Future options for such marine infrastructure could include bulk transport of goods to the area, other export industries, and possible tourism ventures. Jobs would be created not only in building and operating the marine infrastructure but also with local businesses supporting the increased economic activity in the area that would result," he says.

The projects are being supported from the $3 billion ‘shovel ready’ fund set aside in Budget 2020 to kick-start the post-Covid-19 economic recovery.