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Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones yesterday announced Southland had been allocated a $1.23 million loan and $950,000 grant as part of a nationwide $18.8million initiative in the latest Provincial Growth Fund wave.
Rakiura Maori Lands Trust chairman Simon Gomez confirmed the money would be used to build new trails on Stewart Island and would include a new visitor attraction in conjunction with Real Journeys.
He hoped work would start — once resource consent had been signed off — before Christmas and work could be complete late next year or early 2022.
Step one would be to develop infrastructure, including an all-weather, biosecurity protected border-wharf at Lowrys Beach, extension of tracks, a predator-proof fence, and building of shelters.
Initially between six and 10 jobs would be created.
This would grow to 20-30 when it was fully operational, he said, and was the start of a 20-year project.
The main aim was to restore the land to what it was when the island’s first inhabitants arrived and to help native wildlife re-establish.
In addition to the importance of the environment, Mr Gomez said the island had a wealth of history, including some dating back 700 years.
It included burial sites, early whale trading settlements and farm areas.
Mr Gomez confirmed it was the biggest project undertaken by the trust since the South Island Landless Natives Act.
He said the project was owned and welcomed by the local community.
Yesterday, Mr Jones said Maori trusts in Southland, Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti and Manawatu-Whanganui would benefit from the money.
He said it would help the trusts and businesses to diversify, develop capabilities and create job opportunities within their communities.
"Many of these groups would not have received funding from commercial sources, as their assets are on collectively owned Maori land."
Mr Jones said 30 jobs would be created in Southland as a result of the money.
"As part of the PGF reset we are investing in projects that grow Maori firms and Maori assets in sectors that will be core to the economic rebuild.
"The funding announced today will help these Maori trusts and businesses to diversify, develop capabilities and create job opportunities within their communities.