In the bigger scheme of things, Aotearoa - New Zealand is still a magical place. A country of authenticity, cultural richness and in many places, a backyard like no other. We live in a time however, where our future is uncertain. Our current path – our legacy, is questionable and without intervention and a clear vision for where we wish to go, we are destined to follow the path of a world currently on a tipping point.
On returning from Beijing last November, I shared the idea that we needed to get smarter in our approach to attracting and managing inwards investments. Over the last few months a concept has developed in my thinking and this I have shared with a number of influential people. The feedback has been nothing but positive. The idea is around developing a proactive local policy and partnerships that not only celebrate and care for our people and our place, but importantly, create a legacy that ensures we leave our backyard in a better place for our future kaitiaki.
The aim is to develop a framework that proactively promotes and manages inwards investment (internationally and domestically) that sees the Far North grow and develop in line with the expectations of our district vision; He Whenua Rangatira – A District of Sustainable Prosperity and Wellbeing.
Simply put, we really do need to get smart! Develop a way forward that identifies and enables sustainable and innovative methods that support an environment (people and place) of respect, authenticity and prosperity.
The motivation behind this is that currently foreign inward investment is managed by the OIO (and other government agencies). Local Government has little if any influence on this decision. I believe we can better manage this at the onset by being clear and proactive. Recognising that any investment relationship needs to be mutually beneficial, the framework would aim to provide clarity and support for potential investors to understand the opportunities and the support networks and the terms in which these can be taken advantage of. Noting that such a framework would naturally identify areas that are not supported for investment.
In a nutshell, the approach would be five fold. Address landownership models – focusing on partnership, lease and other relationships rather than foreign ownership. Two, promote robust investment opportunities that focus on industry we wish to encourage (e.g. tourism, aquaculture, horticulture, forestry, marine, farming, energy and manufacturing). Three, identify and legislate areas within the District Plan that promote and enable specific industry development. Four, identify and strengthen key relationships that benefit our communities/district, investors and government. Such as investigating developing Public - Private Partnerships that sustain investment and mutual returns and five, develop processes that support efficiency and cost effectiveness for industry development.
The concept is currently sitting with two ministers. I plan to continue to advocate and work towards progressing the idea into a feasible case over the next few months.