$2.4m boost for SoRDS growth plans

The Government has ear-marked $2.42 million to support Southland’s aquaculture, tourism,  primary sector, and education and skills training.

Aquaculture: $950,000
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced $950,000 in Government support for Southland’s aquaculture industry. Mr Joyce said: “The Government has already contributed $200,000 to scientific surveys that identified potential areas for finfish aquaculture. An additional $750,000 will now be made available to fund the significant amount of further scientific and social research that will be required to determine the environmental and cultural suitability of sites in Stewart Island.”

Aquaculture is a key focus of the Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan, which aims to diversify Southland’s economy, grow the population and strengthen local business.

Primary Sector: $520,000
Mr Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced a $520,000 boost for Southland’s primary sector.

Mr Guy said: “As part of the Southland action plan, the Ministry for Primary Industries will be contributing a further $220,000 to sustainably increase beef and sheep productivity through a programme that will develop the skills and capability of farmers and promote the uptake of improved farming systems and practices. A particular focus of this programme will be expanding new ventures, such as dairy-beef production and sheep milking.

“Any productivity gains in agriculture must be underpinned by reliable long-term access to water,” Mr Guy said. “To this end we will be contributing $300,000 to the development and delivery of Southland’s People, Water and Land Strategy to maintain and improve freshwater quality.”

Tourism: $510,000
Mr Joyce and Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett announced a $510,000 package to help strengthen Southland’s tourism industry and attract more visitors to the region. Tourism is a focus of the Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan.

“The tourism industry is experiencing exceptional growth across New Zealand. However, in Southland visitor spending grew 3.3 per cent in the year to September 2016 – a lower growth rate than that seen in most other parts of the country,” Mr Joyce said. The funding announced today includes:

  • $250,000 to support the Milford Opportunities Project
  • $80,000 towards a feasibility study for Bluff Oyster World
  • $130,000 towards development of the Southland Destination Strategy
  • $50,000 towards market insights research, and development of the Southland Story.

International education and skills training: $440,000
To help achieve the Southland Regional Development Strategy’s goal of increasing the region’s population, the SoRDS action plan aims to bring in an additional 3500 students by 2025.

Mr Joyce said $300,000 would be provided to the new Southern Education Alliance, a group representing education providers who will look to draw more international students to the area. “Southland is short of working-age people,” he said. “This initiative will focus on attracting adult students with young families to complete post graduate qualifications and take up jobs in the region.”

The new Youth Futures programme, which aims to build Southland’s primary sector skill base will receive $140,000.