Economic Development Minister Shane Jones formally launched a two-day economic development summit in Waikato today, pledging the support of the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
The Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency (Waikato REDA) is hosting 250 of the region’s key leaders at a summit at Lake Karapiro to determine the economic development priorities that will drive the region and its communities forward.
The Government has allocated $3 billion, over three years, to enhance economic development opportunities in regional New Zealand. Minister Jones said he was glad to see the Waikato region announcing its intention and commitment to moving its communities forward.
“There is immense wealth and opportunity in the Waikato, but there are also communities in dire need of help.”
Minister Jones encouraged the region to determine its priorities quickly and promised the Government would meet them halfway to help drive its communities forward.
Waikato REDA establishment chair Dallas Fisher also announced the official name of the economic development agency – Te Waka: Anga Whakamua Waikato: Waikato moving forward.
“Te Waka signifies what drives us, what binds us, and what propels us forward,” says Fisher.
Fisher says Te Waka’s purpose will be to “connect the dots” between what drives New Zealand forward, and the regions and communities contributing to its success.
“We won’t be just focusing on the big projects, but in the innovation and idea generation that sparks new ways of thinking,” he says.
“The Waikato region has communities that need help and our job is to create the opportunities in the region that will help them – the right infrastructure, industries and jobs they need to thrive.
“Our responsibility is our people.”
Minister Jones also made the first carvings in the organisation’s waka, which is being worked on during the summit.
Among the attendees at the summit launch were Māori Development Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Associate Minister Māori Development Hon Willie Jackson, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau, alongside Waikato MPs, regional mayors and local business leaders.