Beyond the Beehive: Regional Development

When we drove
through Northland last year we saw a few Labour Party
billboards that simply promised strong regions. And regional development
has certainly been a big focus for this government. We also met a few people who felt like they had been left behind. A lot of jobs dried up
here a long time ago with some of those manufacturers that formed the backbone of
some of these small towns. They either packed up and moved overseas, or were simply victims of changing times. Horticulture, however, is an industry where there has been some growth. We’re just outside of Whangārei
to meet Patrick Malley. Who runs a local company that grows fruits in an environmentally
friendly and sustainable way. Hi, Patrick, how ya going? Good to see you. So this is it? Yeah, welcome to Maungatapere Berries. We grow kiwifruit, but
also significantly we grow hydroponic berries, so
raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. There’s a sea of green through here, but in about a month and a half’s time there will be thousands of
red raspberry fruit sitting on the edge of these vines. We’ve come at the wrong time. Is there much of a horticulture
industry in Northland? Oh, compared to other regions like your Bay of Plentys or your
Hawke’s Bays and the like, no. But that’s certainly
changing at the moment. It’s going to be fantastic
to have horticulture as a good part of the
backbone here in Northland. There’s some fantastic soil
and regions and climate up here that’s going to be really
beneficial for horticulture. And I think horticulture can
also really be beneficial for people and jobs. And those sorts of opportunities. Harvest manager Aroha has worked with Patrick
for more than five years. Yeah, I was just coming
out of high school, was working a few jobs and
then moved down to Whangārei from a small town and come here so Whereabouts, what small town? Small town, Kaeo, all
the way up north, so yeah. So growing up in
Kaeo, what were the type of industries people usually got in to? There’s nothing up there
mainy, just agriculture or the oyster farms but they
got hit pretty bad with the disease so, there’s not much work
in Kaeo at the moment. But the government
is trying to change that. Northland is one of the big
winners from the government’s billion dollar a year
Provincial Growth Fund. Millions are being poured
into projects in the region to create jobs, fix up
infrastructure, diversify the economy and boost tourism in the region. We’re seeing a lot
of support coming through from government, both at the local and the national level and
not just to horticulture but to Northland in general And I think it’s going
to take a while for that actually to bear fruit,
if you excuse the pun We’re excited to see
it happen, we really are and we’re excited to
go along on the journey and I can’t wait to see what the end of that actually looks like. Last year when we
visited beautiful Wairoa in Hawkes Bay – although it’s
a little bit more grey today – we just happened to meet Zach Stark, an American with dreams
of setting up a film and music production facility in the town. In the past, Wairoa, I
suppose at least to outsiders, has been known for its gang problems and has really been dominated
by those primary industries. Zach, however, is working
to change those perceptions. – Hey bro
– How are you? – Nice to see you
– Come on in dude. – Thank you
– So welcome back I guess, eh? Right now, the old Clyde Hotel is still being renovated
by Zach and his family but he dreams of people coming here to play music and learn production skills. So, is there a lot of talent in Wairoa? That’s one of the biggest
drivers for us coming here was just the amount of creativity that isn’t always given the opportunity. So in the past year there
has been a change of government I know a lot of people
here that, at least that I was dealing with, were big supporters
of the Labour Government hoping that they would support
smaller places like this, the workforce in places like this. With forestry and the meatworks and stuff that’s been a big section of this place staying alive in the way that it is and with the people here but
we’re hoping to move that and reframe it a little bit to the creative goals of locals
and the creative things of youths. I guess we’ll never get away from primary industry, I don’t think but let’s try and
encourage other industries to at least grow from here. We just had some people through here that run a studio in Hong
Kong and we have worked with them in the past. And there’s no sense that
if they ever get a brief that says, hey we want a
Kiwi accent or we want such and such thing,
if we can fill it here then we absolutely will
and we’ll compete with them on the global market place,
because you can now. Wairoa hasn’t
been left out of the Provincial Growth Fund announcements. There’s $5 million dollars
for reopening the rail line to Napier and money to plant mānuka trees in a wetland near the town. In this year’s budget, the
government also promised $15 million to boost education and employment
opportunities for rangatahi. But Zach has his doubts about how the young people of Wairoa will benefit. If you’re telling the person,
Nah, you gotta go and be a lawyer a banker or whatever and if
you’re too stupid for that then good luck at the
gang mate, see you later, you know, then you’ve missed out. What about their individual thing? What if they loved carving? What if they loved music,
and all these things that help make our lives better? Ratima Hauraki
is a Wairoa local. He makes music with Zach as
the rap group Rugged and Wild. He also believes regional
development needs a youth focus, and it can’t just be about education or bolstering traditional industries. Our rangatahi, nowadays they need something to give them something to believe in, that they can actually achieve something whether you’re, you
failed at school or not because I’m one of those kids that didn’t go so far with school
but, backwards and forwards at polytech, and a lot of
these kids will go through that. If you go to AFFCO and you
ask all of those workers besides the old chaps, do
you really love this job? Ask the young ones, can you
see yourself loving this job in five, six years? No I don’t think any of them would turn around and go yeah bro, I love slaughtering meat. It’s a hard job you know, but you won’t last long doing
something you don’t love.

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