Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Whakatāne District Council are excited to announce their successful applications to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). 

Minister Shane Jones announced today that a contribution of more than $36 million will be made towards three significant projects with wide-reaching benefits for the Whakatāne District.

The development of a new boat harbour, the revitalisation of the town centre and riverfront and the transformation of the Whakatāne Army Hall will go ahead as part of a suite of joint applications under the Whakatāne Regeneration Programme.

The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund has committed a  total of $19.6 million to the boat harbour development, $9.6m to the Riverfront Revitalisation project and $7.6 million to Kāinga, (home, village, residence) the transformation of the Whakatāne Army Hall into a vibrant destination for local, national and international visitors. 

Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited (NAGHL) Chair Paul Quinn says the community is still recovering from the impact of the Whakaari tragedy and so this announcement is gratefully welcomed. 

“This is an important opportunity for NAGHL to work with the Trust and the Council as we find ways to contribute, lift productivity and participate in the regional economy together,” he says.

Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner agrees, saying the collaboration represents a defining moment for the region and signals an incredible opportunity for economic development and  transformational uplift across the whole District. 

“The benefits of both projects to local business and the community are huge. This is about working in partnership and identifying ways we can realise our long-term aspirations for our people,” says Mayor Turner. 

“Whakatāne is home to two of the three largest aluminium boat builders in the country. The investment in a new boat harbour will allow us to deliver the fit-for-purpose infrastructure to drive more growth and employment in the marine and tourism sectors.”

“Transforming the town and riverfront areas will increase private sector investment and create a vibrant town centre for our community to enjoy, as well as supporting Whakatāne on the journey to become a world-class small-town destination for tourists,” she says. 

It is estimated that through these two projects a total of 930 jobs could be created by 2050 with at least 450 of those roles operational in the next decade.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chair Joe Harawira says the Kāinga project will provide a physical ‘heart’ to the Whakatāne town centre and complement the riverside regeneration aspirations. 

“Kāinga will promote and celebrate our unique heritage, culture and stories. This new destination will support iwi, wider community, recreational and commercial activities and create a gathering place for manuhiri (visitors) and locals.”

Te Rāhui Lands Trust Chair Brian Simpson says the Trust will play a lead role in the boat harbour development. 

“This is a historical moment for us as we undertake this work in partnership to realise our collective goals,” says Mr Simpson.

“For us, it’s about taking a balanced approach. As kaitiaki we will ensure that the mauri of our whenua and the river will be enhanced by the project while also creating a development that will provide a sustainable solution for the marine sector.  The project will deliver intergenerational outcomes for our owners, hapū and the wider Whakatāne community.”

This announcement secures funding to key catalytic infrastructure projects that are seen as essential to unlocking the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s economic future, says Mayor Judy.

 “It’s an exciting time for the whole Eastern Bay. We are delighted at the opportunity to co-invest with Central Government to accelerate these investment opportunities and the benefits they will bring to our region,” she says.

The project partners look forward to engaging the wider community and seeking specific feedback that will go towards shaping the Whakatāne Regeneration projects within the scope of the funding programme.

Benefits from boat harbour and riverfront revitalisation projects by numbers:

  • More than 450 jobs by 2030 (direct and indirect)
  • More than 930 new jobs by 2050 (direct and indirect)
  • More than $80m local GDP growth per annum
  • Opportunity to attract $100m private investment in CBD
  • $111m additional GDP contribution by 2050