Government spends $100m for nationwide marae upgrades

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 9 Oct 2020, 7:49PM
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, of NZ First, has defended the spending, saying the economy does not stand still even if there is an election. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, of NZ First, has defended the spending, saying the economy does not stand still even if there is an election. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Government spends $100m for nationwide marae upgrades

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 9 Oct 2020, 7:49PM

The Government has made its last Provincial Growth Fund announcement, earmarking $100 million to be spent on hundreds of marae across the county.

The announcement means the vast majority of the $3 billion fund has now been allocated.

But the "once in a lifetime" $100m Government spend has come under attack by National, which says it is outrageous the money is being allocated so close to the election.

"There is no reason why this funding couldn't have been announced weeks, or even months ago. Shane Jones must be very worried about the fate of his party," National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith said, responding to reports of the funding earlier this week.

But Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the economy did not stand still even if there was an election.

"People's jobs continue to suffer [due to] Covid," Jones said.

"As we add resilience to our rural economy, it's important that the show goes on."

He added that he remained a minister "right up until the point at which the new regime is sworn in".

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said marae were the focal point for Māori – for whānau, hapū and iwi.

"Marae reflect and represent Māori identity, language, mātauranga and whānau wellbeing."

The $100m allocated through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will play for the upgrading of 351 marae across the country.

The money is estimated to create 3100 jobs and would "filter into the communities" by creating business through the purchasing of building materials.

The Bay of Plenty gets the most money - almost $30m for 77 marae, which Jones expect will create close to 650 jobs.

Some 53 Waikato marae get almost $14m in upgrade funding, as do 60 marae from Tairāwhiti/East Coast.

"This latest Government investment in our economic recovery recognises the role of marae, which are often the heart of their communities and what they provide," Jones said.

He said marae were often the centre of faith, sport, and family and community gatherings and often did double service as accommodation, conference centres, health and welfare hubs and host some of our country's most important events.

But at the heart of the spending was jobs, including plumbing, carpentry, electrical, painting and landscaping.

"This investment is a game-changer for these marae and their communities."