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Programme boosting Tairāwhiti economy

30 Sep 2020

Programme boosting Tairāwhiti economy

The ripple effects of the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package’s Redeployment Programme are being felt right throughout the wider community.

As well as helping to put food on the table of the 221 participants, the $23.755m is flowing through 47 local businesses, into their families and out to the community. Each of those businesses have found themselves on the receiving end of a healthy economic boost that would not have happened without the Government investment.

So far 91 percent of the programme money has been spent locally. “That’s makes a world of difference to us locally,” says programme manager Glenis Philip-Barbara.

The programme encompasses five projects, with Gisborne District Council managing three of those – the removal of hazardous trees from local roads, the re-metalling of rural roads and kaitiaki o te whenua (caretakers of the land). The remaining two are the clearance of trees from power lines which is managed by Eastland Group and the other, the regional workforce plans, compiled by Trust Tairāwhiti.

That boost for the local economy would not have happened without the TRP. Tairāwhiti was the first in New Zealand to receive the funding, which was in response to the impact of COVID-19. While initially for displaced forestry workers, their industry rebounded faster than anticipated, allowing the programme to assist others who were displaced, unemployed or under employed.

With 221 people already through the programme, the average hourly rate at $23.85 is just higher than the living wage ($22.10) and significantly better than the minimum wage ($17.70). Ms Philip-Barbara says the businesses paying those higher hourly rates make a huge difference to the quality of life of their employees.

“We know that not everyone is in a position to pay people above minimum wage, but those who do make an important difference to our entire community. It mean more money into the system creating more opportunity for people at every level. The businesses training and taking on our people are humming, people are working – whether they are redeployed or retained in their roles within those businesses supporting the programme. Everyone is earning a living so they can look after their families, pay their bills, shop local and keep moving in these very challenging times.”

Already 33 have moved on to sustainable employment. One of the big aims of the programme is to give participants the tools, qualifications, confidence and support to go into sustainable and long-term employment. “There is no shortage of jobs, with the horticulture, forestry and civil construction sectors in particular very keen to get introduced to our programme’s talent.

“There is a lot that goes into ensuring each person has the right tools,” says Ms Philip-Barbara. “Things like licences, qualifications, a CV . . . are all needed.”

She says the pastoral care component of the TRP – provided by Tūranga Ararau – plays a vital role in bringing it all together for each participant. “That personal touch makes all the difference. Knowing something in theory is one thing, but having one of the team at Tūranga Ararau introduce you to the person who might be your next boss is the kind of next level support we are seeing.”

The re-metalling of local roads was a late-starter, having to wait out the winter storms. The next few months will see roads all over the district receive much-needed attention, and while metal and haulage is expensive, materials and services are primarily sourced locally, with 49 new people learning on the job.

The kaitiaki o te whenua project has employed the largest number under the programme with 71 through the books so far, followed by the removal of hazardous trees project which has 62. “These are all good local people, affected by things out of their control, brave enough to try something new and working hard in their new jobs,” says Ms Philip-Barbara.

The programme was stood up during New Zealand’s COVID lockdown period, and has been now extended through until mid-December in recognition of the inability to get feet on the ground during that time.

Each of the projects is very close to hitting its FTE goal – the $14.6m re-metalling project is at 47 FTEs, with a target of 50; the $5.3m removal of hazardous trees project has 62 FTEs on the books, with a goal of 75; the $1.1m kaitiaki o te whenua project has 50 FTEs with a goal of 70 with Eastland Group’s $2m tree clearance from powerlines having achieved its 25 FTE goal.

The training component of the programme, which is funded by the Ministry of Social Development, is charging along too with plenty of new qualifications achieved.

The programme is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council. All those on the programme come through MSD.

For more information about the redeployment programme

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