It was announced today that Ōpōtiki will benefit from a $79.4m investment from the Crowns Infrastructure Fund to develop the Ōpōtiki harbour. The development of the harbour will enable large scale commercial operations, primarily in aquaculture, to exist and support economic growth for the region.
The most significant benefit to the community will be the opportunities around job creation. Jobs for the development of the harbour as well as jobs created through ongoing marine and aquaculture expansion enabled by the harbour development.
In his announcement today Hon Shane Jones said of the 1850 jobs created from this project, 730 of those jobs would be in Ōpōtiki.
Chairman of the Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust, Graeme Riesterer says this is a game changer for Whakatōhea and Ōpōtiki in terms of economic development.
“The community will benefit by the creation of hundreds of new jobs and higher wages. It provides jobs for Whakatōhea whānau who have had to leave the region, to come home to paid employment. And for our rangatahi who will now have opportunities to stay and live locally without missing out on career or development prospects”.
Mr Riesterer goes on to say “As Mr Jones also mentioned today, we know that sustainable seafood is on the rise globally, this trend supports our Mana Moana strategy for investment and growth in aquaculture initiatives to progress once the Whakatōhea Settlement has been ratified by whānau, and the harbour development enables this to happen. We aren’t just thinking about now, this Settlement is for all Whakatōhea, now and in the future and the harbour development is an enabler to various economic opportunities for our Iwi”.
Economist, Ian Dickson says the harbour development will enable a year-round navigable harbour entrance built to service large scale commercial operations to marine farm offshore from Ōpōtiki, in a safe and accessible way.
“A marine place of safety is essential for offshore marine farming to develop in the eastern Bay. It is the key piece of infrastructure that provides the backbone structure for the industry to grow on”.
The value of the 5000 ha of Whakatōhea water space reserved in the Whakatōhea Settlement agreement has lifted exponentially with this announcement. Mr Dickson goes on to say, “The value uplift for Whakatōhea from the harbour going ahead is $50 to $80 million in addition to their Settlement offer”.
This has been a welcome announcement for many in Ōpōtiki. Mr Riesterer concludes “it’s taken 15 years, but we see the investment in the redevelopment of the Ōpōtiki Harbour as the catalyst for transformative change, for Whakatōhea and the Ōpōtiki community. We’d like to acknowledge the Crown and Hon Shane Jones on their decision to invest in Ōpōtiki, and the Ōpōtiki District Council on their tireless advocacy of this project”.
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