The Government is committed to making New Zealand’s communications network one of the best in the world, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.
Minister Bridges spoke at the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington today.
“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” Mr Bridges says.
“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband, and over one-third of those are already connected.
“In addition to this, over 90 per cent of the population outside of Ultra-Fast Broadband areas – over 300,000 rural households and businesses – can access new or improved broadband.
“Our target for connectivity is that by 2025, 99 per cent of New Zealanders will be able to access peak download speeds of 50 Megabits per second or better, and the remaining one per cent able to access at least 10 Megabits per second.
“Rural connectivity is a core part of the Government’s plan to support our regional economies and our target reflects this – it’s about ensuring that all New Zealanders can take advantage of the benefits of improved connectivity,” Mr Bridges says.
Speaking at the Symposium, Minister Bridges outlined the Government’s objectives for the next phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund.
“These programmes focus on improving broadband services in more rural and remote areas, and improving mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations which do not currently have coverage from any mobile operator.
“Achieving the 2025 targets will require both private and public sector input, so I’m especially pleased by the strong engagement and response to the tender process for these programmes.
“The process was designed to be as accessible as possible so that respondents both large and small could propose creative solutions, and the bids certainly demonstrate this,” Mr Bridges says.
Crown Fibre Holdings is currently reviewing the proposals received and announcements about where deployment will occur will be made once commercial negotiations are completed.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges has today marked the completion and start of two important cycleway links for Rotorua’s growing urban walking and cycling network.
Mr Bridges opened the 1.6km Morey Street/Brent Road section of Rotorua’s CyWay which will connect the East side of the network to Te Ngae Road and the Whakarewarewa Forest.
He also announced the start of work on the bike and pedestrian-friendly connection between the City, lakefront and Rotorua's iconic Kuirau Park and Government Gardens.
“These paths provide a safe, shared route for cycles, scooters and walkers who want to get to their school, work and home, or make their way to the beautiful Rotorua lakefront,” Mr Bridges says.
“When it is finished next year the entire 23.7 kilometres of Rotorua’s $5.52 million CyWay will make cycling an even more attractive option for transport in the city.
“It will also have benefits for tourism and economic development by furthering Rotorua’s reputation as a cycling destination and recreation-friendly city,” Mr Bridges says.
The CyWay is jointly funded by the Government’s Urban Cycleways Fund, the National Land Transport Fund, and Rotorua Lakes Council.
“This project is a great example of what can be accomplished when we work in partnership,” Mr Bridges says.
Through the Urban Cycleways Programme, central and local Government are working together to deliver $333 million of new cycleway projects throughout the country.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced work is set to begin on a multi-million dollar fire deluge system that will improve safety and reduce the risk of lengthy closures at Lyttelton Tunnel.
“In addition to improving safety, the project will also increase the resilience of a route that is an economic lifeline for Christchurch, Canterbury and the South Island,” Mr Bridges says.
“Rock falls from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake closed the main alternative road link to Lyttelton. Since then the Tunnel has provided the most direct freight access to the town and port.
“A tunnel closure because of a fire could have a serious economic impact on Christchurch, Canterbury and the South Island. This deluge system once installed will reduce this risk and improve fire safety for tunnel users.”
The $28.7 million project is the largest project undertaken at the tunnel since it opened in 1964. The contract has been awarded to McConnell Dowell, with work set to start in the coming weeks.
A fire sprinkler system is the most effective means of managing fire risk in the Lyttelton Tunnel. The system is designed to control and contain a fire until fire services reach the scene.
The project involves the construction of two reservoirs, two pump stations, and the installation of 9km of pipe work and 2,400 fire sprinkler nozzles throughout the tunnel.
Most work will be conducted in the ducts above the tunnel with minimal disruption to traffic. Some night-time tunnel closures and single-lane operations will be required. The project is expected to be complete by December 2018.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says current investigations into cycle share schemes in both Auckland and Christchurch shows the increasingly significant contribution cycling is now making to our transport system.
The NZ Transport Agency and Christchurch City Council are investigating whether to introduce a cycle share scheme in Christchurch, and Auckland Transport is beginning a study into the introduction of a similar scheme for Auckland city centre.
“We now live in a world where technology is creating new ways to connect customers and service providers. These technologies have also opened the door to new ways of solving some of our long-standing transport challenges, with e-bikes already becoming part of the solution for cities around New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“Cycle share schemes are an important part of the transport system in more than 700 cities internationally, and they hold real promise here.
“By researching the feasibility of a cycle share scheme for Auckland and in Christchurch, together with our partners we’re creating an opportunity to develop more integrated transport systems that give both residents and visitors, more options about how they get around our towns and cities.
“Cycle share schemes also have the potential to add value and optimise investment in cycleways and shared paths as these increase across the country.
“The Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme is delivering a $333 million dollar programme of cycling infrastructure and initiatives across New Zealand, and cycling is becoming an everyday part of more and more people’s lives,” Mr Bridges says.
“In the past two years we’ve completed projects such as Auckland’s Te Ara Whiti Lightpath and Quay Street cycleway, and Christchurch’s Unicycle route. As a result we’re seeing a strong uptake in the number of people choosing to get around these cities by bike. I look forward to seeing what the investigation work recommends.”
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today marked the halfway point for the Government’s $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme (UCP) with the completion of a section on the Little River Link cycleway.
“The UCP is making a real difference to cycling in the regions all around New Zealand, and today’s opening is just another example of this successful programme,” Mr Bridges says.
“The opening of the Barrington to Moorhouse section of the Little River Link cycleway in Christchurch marks the halfway point for the Governments $333 million UCP.
“The link will provide safer options for central city commuters living in the Addington and Selwyn districts, as well as new developments in the South West of the City.
“Christchurch has vision to be a cycle-friendly city. The completion of this $6.7 million section will help cater for and improve on the 21 per cent annual increase in the number of people cycling into the city centre.
“Through the UCP our goal is to encourage more people to cycle for every day trips. Latest statistics show that we are doing exactly this.
The improvements funded under the UCP will make it easier and safer for people to cycle, helping to ensure cycling is an everyday travel choice
The Little River Link is jointly funded by the Government’s Urban Cycleways Fund, the National Land Transport Fund, and Christchurch City Council.
Notes to editors
Key UCP Facts54 UCP projects 14 are now complete Construction underway on a further 22 14 more in the design phase Four in the investigation phase, By 30 June, it is expected that three-quarters of UCP projects will either be complete or under construction
Key StatisticsIn Rotorua there has been a 180% increase in young people cycling during weekdays Average increase across all cycle routes in Napier is 10% The Marewa Loop project resulted in an 18% increase in the number of Napier Boys High School students choosing to bike to school Quay St Cycleway in Auckland has averaged nearly 800 cycle trips a day since it opened in July 2016. In Christchurch 21 % annual increase in the number of people cycling into the city centre
Completed UCP ProjectsDon Buck Cycleway, Auckland Airport to CBD, Auckland Central Park Drive, Auckland Nelson St Cycleway, Auckland Glen Innes to Meadowbank, Auckland Western Rail Trail, Hamilton Mangati Pathway, Parklands Ave to Coastal Pathway, New Plymouth Longburn Cycleway, Palmerston North Spring Creek, Blenheim Papanui Parallel, Stages 1, Christchurch Matai Street East, Christchurch Little River Link, Christchurch Rolleston to Lincoln, Selwyn District South Dunedin Cycleway Enhancements, Dunedin
A $3.4 million investment into the Taranaki Crossing is part of the Government’s plan to boost growth in Taranaki, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.
The investment will over time form part of Taranaki’s Economic Action Plan as part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme.
This week, Minister Bridges welcomed the launch of Make Way for Taranaki. The project, led by the region, will prepare an economic strategy and plan of action for Taranaki for the next 10 years.
“This is the first step in working towards an economic action plan for the Taranaki region,” says Mr Bridges.
“Taranaki performs well in sectors like dairy and energy, but there is significant scope to diversify products and investment, and build long-term resilience in the region.
“Tourism is one sector which has the potential for significant growth, having grown steadily over the last three years,” says Mr Bridges.
Ms Barry says the investment in the Taranaki Crossing forms part of a $76 million DOC tourism infrastructure package announced through Budget 2017.
“The Government’s announcement of $3.4 million towards enhancing the infrastructure on this crossing will support the development of what will be a truly world class experience in Taranaki,” says Ms Barry.
“We are developing a network of Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks because of increasing demand for activities that can be done in a day or less. Great Day Walks and Great Short Walks will give people more choices.”
“The DOC estate is our biggest and best-known tourism asset and the new walks networks will ensure we can maximise the tourism benefits for biodiversity and threatened species protection.”
“Overseas visitor numbers are set to reach 4.5 million in just five years and we need to be ready.
“Since 2013 DOC, with partners including Te Atiawa and Taranaki Tuturu Iwi, New Plymouth District Council, Taranaki Regional Council and Venture Taranaki Trust, has been examining options for improving access on what is now being called the ‘Taranaki Crossing’.
“Although much of the detail is yet to be worked out, including through further consultation with Iwi and hapū, the broad plan involves upgrading existing tracks, adding new bridges, toilets, signage and interpretation at an estimated $1.8 million. A further estimated $1.6 million will be required for on-going operating and maintenance, and other associated costs.”
The work is expected to be completed over a two to three-year period.
“We would also like to acknowledge the work of New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young who has worked tirelessly on this project over the last three years,” Mr Bridges says.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today officially launched the Awakino Gorge to Mount Messenger Programme in Mokau.
The $135 million programme, part of the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme, is aimed at improving safety, resilience and efficiency along State Highway 3.
“State Highway 3 is a key priority for the Government, and is of huge importance to the region.
“This significant investment by the Government will promote economic development through a safer and more resilient route for the region.
“That’s why we’re investing in these upgrades, to better connect the Taranaki region with the Waikato and upper North Island,” Mr Bridges says.
Last month Mr Bridges announced that one of the three components, the Awakino Tunnel bypass, would feature a two-bridge bypass design. Today’s official programme launch marks the start of significant works on a second component, a series of safety and resilience improvements along State Highway 3.
A preferred option for the Mount Messenger bypass is being developed based on community input, environmental and cultural considerations, and the desired safety, resilience and journey experience benefits.
“It’s fantastic to have this long-awaited programme officially underway,” Mr Bridges says.
The Awakino Gorge to Mount Messenger Programme is funded out of the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme, a package of funding designed to accelerate regionally important State Highway projects.
More information about the programme is available at https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/awakino-gorge-to-mt-messenger-programme/
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today marked the commencement of the final stage of the Baypark to Bayfair project to build two flyovers.
The $120 million project will connect to the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL), completing the Eastern Corridor for the Bay of Plenty.
“The flyovers will reduce congestion, improve journey times and provide for a safer, more resilient connection for both local and state highway users,” Mr Bridges says.
“The project will also support economic growth and productivity in the region, by improving this important connection to the Port of Tauranga.”
One flyover will take State Highway 29A traffic over the railway line and the Te Maunga intersection, and the other will take State Highway 2 traffic up and over the Maunganui-Girven intersection.
“It’s exciting to see another important transport project underway that will support Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty economic and population growth,” Mr Bridges says.
The project will also improve the Truman Lane roundabout at Baypark and provide safer walking and cycling options.
Construction is expected to take three years to complete.
To find out more and keep up to date with project news, visit the project website at www.nzta.govt.nz/b2b.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the first stage of the East West Connections project is already improving travel times and providing early benefits for motorists around the Onehunga area.
Mr Bridges marked the completion of work to widen the Southwestern Motorway (State Highway 20) to four lanes in both directions between Neilson Street and Queenstown Road, to provide extra capacity for the growing number of vehicles.
“This early package of $15 million worth of improvements is already helping to reduce congestion and increase capacity for both local road users and freight along Neilson Street and on the approaches to State Highway 20 and State Highway 1,” Mr Bridges says.
“The East West Connections is one of the Government’s top transport priorities in Auckland to improve access and travel times for businesses, freight operators and customers moving in and out of this key industrial hub.
“Motorists travelling between Alfred Street to Onehunga Mall, along Neilson Street are saving up to two and a half minutes during the morning peak travel time.
“There are also 800 more trucks using Neilson Street each day since last year, allowing truck drivers access to State Highway 20 on-ramp faster than they could before.
“This shows that even before the main East West Connections project has started it’s already reducing the cost of doing business in Auckland by improving the critical link to key industrial and manufacturing areas.”
The joint project, funded by Auckland Transport and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency has also demolished the Neilson Street rail bridge and built a new lower road to make it easier for freight and heavy vehicles which previously struggled uphill.
Budget 2017 will see $303.9 million allocated to support the continuation of the New Zealand screen industry production grants, both globally and domestically, say Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry.
This includes $222 million over four years and $18 million in 2016/17 for the International Screen Production Grant to bring international productions to New Zealand.
Up to $63.9 million over four years remains available to ensure the domestic component of the grant continues.
“Our screen industry has a reputation for being one of the best in the world and this grant helps the industry compete internationally for a wide range of projects which bring jobs and economic opportunities to New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“Since 2014, the grant has supported around 50 international productions. The industry now employs 14,000 people working in over 24,700 jobs or contracts. It has been a major contributor to the screen sector overall, drawing in $3.3 billion in annual revenue.
“Without the grant these international productions would not have located in New Zealand and much of the $3.3 billion would not have been spent here,” Mr Bridges says.
Mr Bridges says there are also flow on effects for other industries like tourism and technology.
“Technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics originally developed for film are being used and adapted in other areas such as health bringing even more economic upsides. It also supports tourism with New Zealand recognised as a leading film tourism destination. 18 per cent of visitors say they chose to come here following the Hobbit Trilogy.
“Overall this additional funding enables an industry that’s world leading, promotes New Zealand internationally, and has many tangible economic benefits,” Mr Bridges says.
Ms Barry says the Government has reiterated its support for the New Zealand screen industry by ensuring the domestic component of the grant continues for the next four years.
“The international and domestic screen grants are working hand in hand. The successful marketing of New Zealand as an international screen production destination is leading to increased production activity and improved business confidence within the domestic industry,” Ms Barry says.
“The domestic screen grant has successfully supported 23 New Zealand productions since 2014, accounting for approximately $100 million spent in the local screen industry.
“The number of eligible films tripled when the NZSPG was introduced in 2014 with money spent locally on films such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Pork Pie and Chasing Great,” Ms Barry says.
A full evaluation of the both the International and the New Zealand screen grants will be completed this year.
“We want to make sure we have the right mix of incentives to support the industry while ensuring New Zealand gets maximum economic benefit from productions coming to New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.