Taranaki Daily News: The biggest spend up since Think Big is coming to Taranaki

The community at Parihaka have a reason to celebrate. They have been given $14m to build a visitors centre that will give them the opportunity to tell their stories their way.

It will also provide a place and the staff to deal with the high numbers of visitors who amble down the drive to the historic South Taranaki community, expecting to see something, talk to someone and take pictures.

The different funds and the money being thrown around will bring back memories for some, of the Think Big projects in the late 1970s /early 80s.

Set up by Prime Minister Rob Muldoon the Government borrowed to fund large-scale industrial projects, such as the gas to gasoline plant at Motunui and the ammonia-urea plant at Kapuni.

The end result wasn’t pretty with New Zealand ending up deep in debt.

But Massey University School of Business senior lecturer Dr Matthew Roskruge doesn’t think there will be a problem this time around.

Both the level of science and understanding of economics and business has increased since then, he says.

‘’And our levels of debt are unlikely to hit any long run problems.”

New Zealand has an ‘’incredible’’ low level of debt to GDP ratio. And with the sort of debt so far in the Covid-19 recovery there is no risk of New Zealand ending up as a country with a high or even moderate level of debt.

‘’We have a lot of scope to borrow. New Zealand could be far more adventurous in taking on debt and our infrastructure is in really bad shape – water across New Zealand is in bad shape, some of our roads, our hospital systems,” he says.

“We need to be borrowing and investing in infrastructure. If infrastructure fails we don’t have any economy.’’

There is a concern that most of that borrowing will have to be paid back by the next generation.

‘’But both with Covid and the state of infrastructure in New Zealand, and with the incredibly low cost of borrowing, it absolutely makes sense for New Zealand to be doing this.’’

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