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.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says a new lane along a section of Auckland’s Southern Motorway will help ease bottlenecks and improve journeys for thousands of motorists.
The additional southbound lane has now been opened to traffic between Hill Road and the Takanini interchange, and between the Takanini southbound on-ramp to the Pahurehure Inlet as part of the Southern Corridor Improvements project.
“The $268 million project is one of the Government’s accelerated transport projects for the Auckland region and will add extra lanes in both directions as well as upgrading the Takanini Interchange,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Southern Corridor connects Auckland and Northland to the rest of the country. The improvements will improve safety and journey reliability in the short term while supporting the rapid population growth in the south of the region in the next thirty years.
“It’s great to see the sections of extra southbound lanes now open in preparation for the opening of the Waterview Connection to ensure there’s enough capacity for the additional traffic joining State Highway 1 from State Highway 20,” Mr Bridges says.
Further improvements will extend the extra lanes both southbound and northbound, while the upgrade of the Takanini Interchange will provide new ramps for better traffic flow and easier access to the motorway. The project is due to be completed in 2019.
More than a third of New Zealanders with access to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) are now connected, says Communications Minister Simon Bridges.
The March 2017 Quarterly Broadband Update released today shows the number of households, business, schools and hospitals connected to UFB has increased 12 per cent in the past three months to 367,788.
“It’s encouraging to see that strong demand for UFB is continuing, as connectivity continues to improve across New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“There have been around 40,000 new connections in the past three months, with more Kiwis now having access to greater speeds and being better connected.”
The quarterly update also shows that deployment for phase one of the UFB programme is almost three-quarters complete, providing 1,103,000 households and businesses with access to download speeds of close to 1000 Megabits per second (Mbps).
Alongside the UFB programme, the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is continuing to deliver faster broadband to priority users and rural communities outside of UFB areas.
“We’re investing approximately $2 billion in UFB and RBI programmes which, overall, will allow 85 per cent of New Zealanders to access UFB by the end of 2024, and provide vastly improved broadband in New Zealand’s rural communities,” Mr Bridges says.
Further information about the Government’s UFB and RBI programmes is available at www.broadband.govt.nz.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges has welcomed the start of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) build in Hikurangi and Hokitika, the first towns to commence the build under the extension of the UFB programme.
In January, the Government announced an investment of $300 million to extend UFB to another 423,000 New Zealanders across a further 151 towns.
“Having access to fast and reliable broadband is critical for regional towns like Hikurangi and Hokitika,” Mr Bridges says.
“Through the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, both Northland and the West Coast have identified having access to the same world-class broadband as Kiwis living in other centres as vital to economic growth.”
The build in Hokitika will be completed early next year, providing an additional 3,200 people across more than 1,500 premises in the area with access to UFB.
“The Government has invested around $2.5 million to deliver UFB to Hokitika. Under the extension to the programme, fibre deployment is also planned for Reefton, Westport and Runanga. Greymouth already has access to UFB,” Mr Bridges says.
“By the end of 2019, more than 18,000 people – or 53 per cent of the West Coast’s population – will be able to access faster, more reliable broadband.”
The build in Hikurangi will be completed later this year, providing an additional 1,830 people across more than 550 premises with access to fibre.
The Government has invested around $600,000 to deliver UFB to Hikurangi. Under the extension, fibre deployment is also planned for Kerikeri, Dargaville, Paihia, Ruakaka and Taipa Bay-Mangonui, among other towns and areas in Northland.
By the end of 2023, more than 94,000 people – or 54 per cent of Northland’s population – will be able to access UFB.
Police Minister Paula Bennett, Communications Minister Simon Bridges and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne, today announced a new caller location system for 111 mobile phone calls that will improve public safety and help save lives.
“The new system will automatically provide emergency services with a probable location of a caller when they dial 111,” Mrs Bennett says.
“It will still be important for 111 callers to tell emergency services operators where they are. However, if the caller doesn’t know their address or exact whereabouts, the new system will automatically provide emergency services with a more precise location of a 111 caller than is currently the case.”
Each year, there are more than two million calls to emergency services. Last year, more than 80 per cent of calls to 111 were made from a mobile phone, and Police recorded over 1,800 incidents where they had to make a special information request to a network provider for a caller’s location.
“Where people can’t give an accurate address emergency services can experience real difficulty pinpointing the caller’s location,” Mr Dunne says.
“This new system will enable police, fire and ambulance services to respond more quickly to emergency events from mobile phones, as they will have more accurate information about the caller’s location.”
The level of location accuracy will still vary depending on a number of factors such as the type of mobile phone and the location source available.
“This solution sees New Zealand leading the way in emergency response systems, alongside the United Kingdom and other European countries. New Zealand is the first country outside of Europe to go live with Google’s Android Emergency Location service nationally,” Mr Bridges says.
“Technology is changing the way people and communities interact. As we continue to use technology to improve New Zealand, it’s important that we strike a balance between innovation, security and privacy protection.”
Minister Bridges says the project team worked closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to address any privacy concerns in developing the new system.
“I appreciate that some people may have concerns around privacy, which is why the phone’s location services are switched on only when the 111 call is made and then returned to the caller’s original settings within 25 seconds of the 111 call being initiated. All location data will only be held for 60 minutes and will then be deleted,” Mr Bridges says.
Further information about the Emergency Caller Location Information system is available at:
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today launched a new edition of an investment guide into New Zealand’s fast growing technology sector.
The Investor Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector showcases the breadth and variety of technology companies in New Zealand.
“The tech sector is New Zealand’s third largest exporting sector, contributing $16 billion to GDP and it is growing fast,” says Mr Bridges. “It presents multiple opportunities for New Zealand and international investors.
“New Zealand technology is gaining recognition internationally along with our innovative and can-do culture, and the fact that we are ranked first in the world for ease of doing business by the World Bank Group is a huge drawcard for investors.
“High profile successes like Vend, Xero, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and Vista Group are leading the way. But, a growing number of early stage companies like Soul Machines and 8i, are attracting significant international attention for their cutting edge technologies in artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
“One of the top priorities of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda is to ensure that these businesses are supported and enabled to grow and compete with the world’s leading technology innovators,” says Mr Bridges.
The Government is also planning to meet the needs of this growing sector through investment in innovation, and building the skills needed in the sector.
“The Government is working hard to develop New Zealand as a hub for high-value, research and development intensive businesses,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“The recent 29 per cent increase in businesses investment in research and development reported by Statistics New Zealand is largely driven by technology businesses, and shows that our efforts are delivering results”.
“To support this growth we’re developing pathways for young New Zealanders to enter the tech sector. This includes the TechHub in Schools, and FutureInTech initiatives which aim to engage young people and get them interested in a career in tech,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“Alongside these skills and employment initiatives the Digital Technology Skills Forum, is bringing together industry associations with government agencies to identify opportunities to develop the skills that the sector will need in order to continue its rapid growth,” says Mr Bridges. “It’s a sign of a sector that is in good health, and planning to meet its future needs.”
The Investor Guide is produced by the Technology Investment Network (TIN) in collaboration with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). It is freely available online.
A copy of the guide is available at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/about/whats-happening/news/2016/new-guide-to-drive-investment-in-tech-sector.