Māori businesses welcome $1.7mil provincial fund

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The Matamata-Piako Māori business community is welcoming a $1.7mil investment from the government to unlock new opportunities in the region's tourism infrastructure.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the government's support for the first Waikato initiative to receive a portion of the Provincial Growth Fund.

Fitzone Gym CEO, Lennie Brooky says it's a sweet homecoming gift for local business from the PM.

“I think the main positive for us as a community and us as a growth business in Matamata is that the attention the that Jacinda brings with her when she comes,” says Brooky.

The PM's visit was made sweeter with a $900,000 Provincial Growth Fund injection towards a feasibility study for Te Aroha Tourism and $800,000 feasibility study for the Waharoa Industrial Hub.

“Our people are there, but if the government can support them that's really good,” says Waikato Regional Development Agency elder, Tame Pokaia, “We can let them get on with further developing our towns and region.”

Two and a half years ago, Brooky and his partner took the plunge, starting his gym business in Matamata.

Now he has a branch in Te Aroha, and looking to open in Paeroa.

“It has been really difficult for us just to get started,” he says, “I mean it will be a positive for them just to have a gym in their community and it's not been easy and I think if local government can make it a lot easier for businesses to come to the regions and set up, I think that'll be massive.”

“We need to support all our business communities,” says Pokaia.

Brooky will open his Paeroa gym this weekend.