Friday, December 1, 2023

Rural roads, schools get Budget boost

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Funds also earmarked to bring more electric vehicle charging stations to remoter areas.
Education in rural towns and villages will receive a boost with 175 schools added to the Ngā Iti Kahurangi programme, which upgrades the properties of small, remote schools.
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Roading infrastructure in rural areas has received a $60.7 million top-up in this year’s Budget to help fund emergency repairs after severe weather events.

Rural Communities Minister Kieran McAnulty said rural communities are at risk from being severely impacted by extreme weather events and it is crucial that emergency services have road access through to remote communities.

“The financial support that we have provided to Waka Kotahi so far has meant that in the last year teams of roading contractors have been able to repair critical roads in areas such as Northland, Coromandel, Tararua District, Wairarapa Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Marlborough,” McAnulty said.

“It has also meant that Waka Kotahi has been able to carry out over 2300 lane kilometres of renewals and fix over 54,000 potholes across the state highway network.

“The additional funding for emergency works announced today will ensure that Waka Kotahi can continue to respond rapidly to extreme weather and repair the roads for rural communities as quickly as possible,” he said.

The Budget also allocated $30m to build 600-1000 electric vehicle chargers in smaller rural communities. This $30m is out of $120 million for a broader EV charging initiative.

“With increased charging infrastructure, rural communities will be able to harness the benefits of EVs as urban centres are able to and bring visitors to their region.

“We don’t want charging to be a barrier in rural communities for adapting to EVs. This funding will ensure more kiwis are able to make the switch to an EV,” McAnulty said.

The funding also provides 23 additional EV journey charging hubs along key arterial routes and resourcing for government agencies to support delivery of the EV charging strategy.

Education in rural communities will also receive a boost with 175 schools added to the Ngā Iti Kahurangi programme, which upgrades small, isolated schools’ properties with $63.1m.

The programme helps rural schools improve lighting, noise, temperature and energy efficiency. 

Improvements include LEDs, acoustic panels and thermal insulation in ceilings. The programme also installs residual current devices and supports state primary schools to update their asbestos management plans.

“The programme helps rural schools meet government’s 2030 target school standards, but also create the best environment for children to learn in.

“Teachers in rural locations play such a crucial part in their community. The school is often the heart of the community and I’m glad we are able to help those schools create the best physical environment possible for their children through Budget 2023,” McAnulty said.

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