Two years ago, the government announced that Ōpōtiki’s funding bid for an ambitious Harbour Development Project had been successful and would be supported by Kānoa - RDU, the government’s regional economic development and investment unit.
Construction of this massive piece of infrastructure is already over halfway and is directly employing more than 90 people in the build and many more through indirect jobs in support and associated industries. In addition, more than 140 people are now employed at the new state-of-the-art mussel processing factory in Ōpōtiki town.
Someone who sees this change first-hand is Barbara McLennan, the Workforce Development Co-Ordinator at Ōpōtiki District Council.
Barbara has been working alongside this project for many years, and understands not just the job numbers, but the people behind those jobs and the changes the investment brings.
“Because of the confidence the Harbour Development is providing, construction on Whakatōhea Mussels (Ōpōtiki) Ltd‘s processing factory was also fast-tracked and now employs more than 140 people. More than 80% of those employees are locals and there are many additional local contracts for things such as transporting the produce, and the volume of this will only grow.
“While it’s more difficult to fully quantify indirect jobs, we see many in engineering, mechanical repairs, retail, hospitality and accommodation. Local businesses report they are doing well as they grow, with a lot of local recruitment, taking on apprentices and investing in buildings and infrastructure.
“Only a few years ago, it was a challenge helping local rangatahi find good jobs. These days many local businesses are competing to attract them,” Ms McLennan said.