New economic approach being piloted in Northland

Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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Fish farming, farm improvements and better use of Maori freehold land are identified as avenues to a better economy and more jobs in Northland.

Northland has been selected by the government as a pilot for a staged programme across the regions led by the Ministry for Primary Industries, MP Mike Sabin says.

"It signals a new approach to unlocking the potential we have in our regions."

The initiative aims to identify opportunities, prioritise and agree on actions and facilitate funding.

"We've chosen to start with Northland because we believe it has major potential. It has a good climate that lends itself well to developing the land," he says

The ministry is working with the Northland Economic Action Group and Northland Inc.

"The development of a new finfish industry is a serious possibility. Northland Inc has aspirations of a $300 million per annum industry employing 700 people by 2030.

Optimising 116,000 hectares of Maori freehold land in Northland over the next 10 years has the potential to create 331 jobs.

He says on-farm productivity improvements could be worth around $50 million per year.

The ministry is working with two Maori-owned farms in this region.

One group is looking to convert 270 hectares of Maori land from grazing to a higher productivity dairy farm.

The second project involves 2480 hectares of dairy and beef farmland which has been transferred from Crown to iwi ownership.

Key partners in these projects include Landcorp, DairyNZ and Te Tumu Paeroa.

Omapere Rangihamama Trust is made up of two farms - Omapere which is a beef farm, and Rangihamama which is currently being converted into higher value dairy farm.

There is also a body of work under way at the moment looking at the Maori Land Act to resolve the issues of Maori Land held in multiple titles Mr Sabin says.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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