Local nursery industry advocates are crying foul that multi-million dollar contracts could be in the process of being dished out by NZTA to companies as far north as Whangarei while local nurseries are left struggling for business.
Up to $20m dollars worth of planting could be up for grabs.
The Mackay’s to Peka Peka Expressway project was supposed to create local jobs and local economic benefits but that does not seem to be the reality in this case.
Local nursery industry advocates say they have the technical capability and physical capacity to supply most, if not all, the plants NZTA needs to mitigate the massive project.
I urge NZTA to introduce a weighting in the tender process for local nurseries and give locals a chance.
The NZTA, local MP and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy as well as Prime Minister John Key have claimed the Expressway will create 1000 jobs.
When challenged, NZTA has not been able to give details on how many of these jobs will be for Kapiti residents. A significant number of these jobs should be for locals and not solely for people elsewhere!
I am told a $100,000 tender for the collection and storage of eco-sourced seeds, and possibly test planting, has already been given to a company from north of Whangarei.
The company has not even set up a base in Kapiti, preparing instead to set it up in Palmerston North. The tender to supply 1.5 m plants is expected to go out later this year.
Statistics NZ’s industry figures show that from 2005 to 2012 the number of nurseries in Kapiti dropped from 14 to 4 and its workforce from 80 to 20.
Lynton Allen of Lynwood Nursery says a substantial commercial plant project is required to enable local nurseries to reverse the trend and to recover financial vitality to become a sustainable supplier for the future needs of this region.
“The expressway project will provide the local nursery industry the assistance it desperately needs,” he says.
Mr Allen, who operates out of Te Horo and Ohau, says local nurseries have the ability to pool their resources together to meet the demand and provide a sustainable supply of plants for the region now and for the future.
I support that vision. Given the proper partnerships, and the pooling of technical skills and capacity Kapiti could be developed as a supplier for this stage as and for the next stage from Peka Peka to Otaki as well as the northern end of the Transmission Gully project.
I have written to Mr Nathan Guy to alert him of this potential within his electorate and urge him to take this matter up with NZTA.