A forum designed to tackle the significant infrastructure deficit faced by the Western Bay of Plenty was launched in Tauranga today.
The launch of the Western Bay of Plenty Infrastructure Forum was attended by Minister of Finance, Hon Grant Robertson, and other invited guests who discussed the challenges facing the region and the urgent need for action to improve transport and housing options for the community.
Tauranga is a key component of the Golden Triangle and home to New Zealand’s largest seaport; it’s vital to Aotearoa New Zealand’s economy and wellbeing. However, the city’s rapid growth has outstripped its infrastructure, resulting in subpar transport and housing systems that threaten the local standard of living, and New Zealand’s capability to grow the economy.
Nigel Tutt, Chair of Western Bay of Plenty Infrastructure Forum (and Chief Executive of Priority One, the Western Bay of Plenty’s Economic Development Agency), says the government needs to look towards investing in critical infrastructure to ensure the region continues to grow and thrive – and support the wider economic needs of New Zealand.
“The city has seen a 72 percent population increase since the turn of the century, yet only the Tauranga Eastern Link has been completed during that time.“
“Regional GDP growth for 2022 was 8.1 per cent, compared to national growth of 5.3 per cent. We’re home to one of our largest horticulture exports and Aotearoa’s highest freight volume of imports and exports through Port of Tauranga. Without better infrastructure we’re putting everything at risk – we deserve better and so does New Zealand.”
Leonard Sampson, Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, agrees.
“The port is a vital link for Aotearoa’s imports and exports, and without development the country is likely to face future growth constraints. The launch of the Forum is a significant step forward to address the infrastructure deficit that Tauranga and the wider region face; we need to act, and we need to act now,” he says.
Greg Pert, Managing Director of Tranzliquid Logistics Ltd, says long-term funding agreements around roading need to be put in place urgently if the freight and logistics industry is to plan effectively and meet future demands.
He believes that while the Waikato Expressway has addressed some of the transport challenges, it has in effect moved the congestion point further south.
“We’re experiencing significant delays in moving freight between Tauranga and the rest of the country due to poor roading infrastructure,” he says.
“The pressures in the future will only get bigger, as the economy and population continue to grow, and demands on the freight network become stronger – urgent action is needed.”
Scott Adams, General Manager of Carrus Corporation and Chair of the Urban Task Force, says Tauranga is the only city in New Zealand that has not met its housing supply obligations under the national policy statement.
“Tauranga has the worst housing and rental affordability of any major city in the country – we need to be investing now and we need the support of central government to create specific infrastructure strategies for our region.”
The Western Bay of Plenty Infrastructure Forum brings together stakeholders from across the region, including business leaders, local government, and community representatives, to identify and prioritise infrastructure projects and advocate for investment.
The Forum today released the Tauranga Moana Infrastructure Action Plan, outlining key actions required to support New Zealand’s fastest-growing city and the wider New Zealand economy.
The Forum will play a vital role in shaping the future of Tauranga and the wider region, working together to ensure that the region has the infrastructure it needs to support growth and create opportunities for the local community and wider New Zealand.