What a great day it was to launch the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan (the Plan) in Kerikeri this month (February 4, 2016) at Marsden Estate, exactly a year after the launch of the Tai Tokerau Regional Growth Study. From the ministers to everyone who attended the launch the overall sentiment appeared to be: ‘at last we now have a way forward’.
When we started out on this Hikoi MBIE approached us and said: “We want to do a regional growth study”, my response was “We don’t need any more studies to tell us what we already know, but if you think it will help we want two things: We want the study grounded in the region combining national and regional knowledge, not done from a desk in Wellington; and we want an action plan that you will help us deliver”. I’m happy to say we achieved both of those things. We’ve achieved them with Wellington’s help, and with the help of many regional stakeholders; Māori, councils and business. I must pay a special tribute to my Northland Inc team who have been the glue through this whole process, often on top of their normal workloads!
The Action Plan details 58 actions in four major work-streams with a 10-year horizon based on the opportunities outlined in the study. Many of the projects are underway while others are in various stages of development so the Action Plan will evolve as projects are completed and others come online. There were major announcements during the launch, from the $4 million contribution to the Whangarei Hundertwasser Art Centre, a new Manuka honey scheme at Northland College in Kaikohe, and a commitment to new infrastructure including roads, bridges, broadband and water. But it will take a continued collaborative effort to implement the Action Plan.
The Action Plan provides a joined-up focus across Northland on projects that will contribute to make transformative change to the Northland economy. The best part is central government and regional stakeholders have endorsed the Plan. Now the real work begins.
Northland Inc is leading many of projects, but we will also provide the home for the Action Plan and work with others to implement the projects within.
The region cannot do this on its own – Northland Inc cannot do this on its own, neither can central or local government. What is needed is a mix of iwi, public and private sector players all contributing.
As the Maori proverb says:
He muka nā te taura whiri a kotahitanga; We are the threads of the woven rope of unity and strength.
New Zealand needs Northland to prosper. Northland deserves to prosper. Let’s make this happen.
David Wilson, CEO
Northland's Regional Economic Development Agency