West Coast Minerals Strategy

The public is being asked for input into a West Coast Minerals Strategy that aims to increase investment into the minerals sector,  while setting out the expectations of what doing business in the region entails.

The West Coast Minerals Strategy has been initiated by the Mayors of the Buller,Grey and Westland Districts, and the Chairs of the West Coast Regional Counciland Development West Coast. It is an initiative originating from the West CoastEconomic Development Plan, which envisions a diverse economy providing asustainable and independent future for the residents of the West Coast.

DWC Chairman John Sturgeon says the Strategy provides a voice for West Coast communities and he encourages the public to have their say.

“We want the public to tell us how they see the minerals industry on the WestCoast moving forward. The Strategy is intended to provide a message topotential investors, welcoming them, and also being up front about our expectations in terms of the environment and a fair return to our communities, "he says.

Mr Sturgeon says the Mayors and Chairs believe the West Coast can reverserecent job losses by diversifying the types of minerals extracted and being upfront with potential investors about what the West Coast wants from its mineralsextractive sector into the future.

“Together we want to adopt a philosophy of red carpet, not red tape, to assistbusinesses to quickly and efficiently gain the necessary consents and permitsrequired. We also want to work with investors who have a demonstratedcommitment to protecting the environment and working with local communities,”says Mr Sturgeon.

Copies of the West Coast Minerals Strategy, and feedback forms, are availableat public libraries in Westport, Reefton, Greymouth and Hokitika. The Strategy isalso available online at http://mineralsstrategy.wix.com/westcoast

Public comments must be received no later than 5.00pm on Friday 11 December2015. Feedback forms may be delivered directly to DWC at their office: 1st floor, Brunner House, 54 Tainui Street, Greymouth; posted to PO Box 451, Greymouth7840; or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with ‘Minerals Strategy’ in the subject line.

(2 November 2015)


DWC CEO Moves On

DWC CEO is leaving Development West Coast to pursue other opportunities having been with the organisation for the past 18 months. DWC wishes Joseph well in his future endeavours.

(19 October 2015)


DWC Provides $5 Million Business Stimulus Fund

DWC provides $5 million business stimulus fund Development West Coast has today launched a $5 million fund to stimulate business development and growth in the West Coast region.

The fund is available directly to West Coast businesses and has been designed to support them during current economic challenges with incentives to encourage the promotion of employment opportunities. Businesses can apply to DWC for funding which could take various forms including equity investment, loans with discounted interest rates, interest only periods or concessional repayment terms.

DWC Chairman John Sturgeon says the West Coast is currently facing economic challenges and this initiative is part of DWC's strategy to persue solutions to promote employment opportunities.

"This fund can support businesses that wish to build on existing success, support diversification and innovation through research and development, or could help a business with job retention," he says.

The fund will be available from 1 October 2015 and priority will be given to applications that have employment opportunities as a direct effect of the distribution. DWC CEO Joseph Thomas says there are three main differences between the Business and Industry Stimulus Fund and DWC's "business as usual" funding.

"While DWC will maintain a high level of due diligence there will be a streamlined application process to ensure timely decisions while distribution terms and Trustees' risk appetite will also be more flexible. Community assets and projects, feasibility studies and compliance and regulatory costs are not eligible for funding.

In a joint statement the three District Mayors and Chair of the Regional Council welcomed the fund.

"We welcome DWC's commitment to getting the Coast up and running by coming up with the $5m stimulus fund for business and industry across the region. We are all in this together and we hope this support will enable development in all districts. We are looking forward to engaging with DWC in order to fully understand the details of this fund," say the Mayors and Chair.

The $5 million Business and Industry Stimulus Fund is one of a number of initiatives recently announced by DWC to promote employment. Other initiatives include the $3 million District Economic Stimulus Fund, $1 million Digital Enablement Fund and a $248,000 grant to assist Tourism West Coast in attracting more domestic tourists to the region.

 (22 September 2015)


DWC Fund to Improve Digital Communications on West Coast

Development West Coast is making $1 million available to the West Coast District Councils to improve access to ultra fast broadband and cell phone coverage for the region.

The $1 million Digital Enablement Fund (UFB and Cellular Black Spot) will allow councils to work with the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment on a solution to the West Coast's digital challenges. This Fund will enable councils to leverage central government funding to support this initiative.

DWC Chairman John Sturgeon says the fund recognises the importance of addressing communication issues on the West Coast.

"If we can help progress the implementation of ultra fast broadband and eliminate cell phone black spots then that will make doing business on the West Coast easier, and the whole region safer," he says.

In a joint statement the three District Mayors and the Chair of the Regional Council expressed gratitude for the immediate availability of $1m to be used to help get quality broadband access throughout the Coast and to solve the problem of large black spots in mobile phone connectivity.

"We can now go to Government with a concrete commitment to put local skin in the game. Hopefully this will get us over the line and enable rapid progress on an issue that is not only a block to economic development, but also a real safety concern," say the Mayors and Chair.

The $1 million Digital Enablement Fund is in addition to the recently announced District Economic Stimulus Fund that provides $1 million to each of the three district councils to help boost business development and growth.DWC has also recently announced a $5 million Business and Industry Stimulus Fund and a $248,000 grant to assist Tourism West Coast in attracting more domestic tourists to the region.

(22 September 2015)


DWC to Provide Financial Boost for West Coast Tourism

Development West Coast is to provide nearly $250,000 towards a promotion package to attract greater numbers of domestic tourists to the region.

The $248,000 funding for Tourism West Coast is designed to boost the local economy and get more Kiwis visiting the West Coast. The money is in addition to the $86,000 DWC currently funds Tourism West Coast annually.

DWC Chairman John Sturgeon says it should attract more visitors, to come more often, stay longer and spend more.

Tourism is a big employer on the Coast but these are tough times and to ensure tourism continues to thrive it needs a boost. If we can increase the number of domestic tourists here it is new money that gets spread around the community, from accommodation providers and supermarkets, to coffee places and petrol stations," he says.

Tourism is the West Coast's largest employer and a critical part of the economy generating $309million for the year ending March 2014.

Tourism West Coast Chairman Richard Benton says his Board is delighted in the confidence shown by DWC in Tourism West Coast as the funding provides a really significant opportunity to bring more domestic visitors into our region "These funds allow us to focus on the domestic market which tends to stay for longer and subsequently spend more money. We see it as a significant amount of money that will stimulate the regional economy as visitor dollars will flow through and benefit all areas of the community," he says.

The funding will be used for creative destination marketing and promotion initiatives, and in some cases involve joint ventures to gain leverage with organisations like the AA with its 1.4million database. There will also be a focus on boosting participation numbers to existing West Coast events and encouraging competitors, supporters, friends and family to stay longer in our region.

"We need to explore a number of innovative and different ways to attract domestic visitors to discover the West Coast. Tourism really is on a strong growth curve and now is the perfect time to build on numbers with the West Coast well placed to capitalise on this, and present compelling reasons for New Zealanders to visit," says Mr Benton.

(17 September 2015)


DWC Sponsors New Coastguard Vessel

Development West Coast is to provide $50,000 sponsorship to Coastguard West Coast to assist with the purchase of a replacement rescue vessel.

Coastguard West Coast, based in Greymouth, is responsible for the largest length of coastline in New Zealand, from Kahurangi Point to Milford Sound. Last year Coastguard volunteers responded to 12 calls for help, bringing 18 people safely home with its current vessel, the Ivan Talley.

The Ivan Talley needs replacing and DWC Chairman John Sturgeon says Trustees are delighted to be able to assist with funding for a new vessel.

“Fishing is a major industry on the Coast and Coastguard West Coast provides a critical service and support for the fishing and maritime industry, as well as recreational fishers. We hope this sponsorship will encourage others who use Coastguard’s services to make a contribution,” says Mr Sturgeon.

The 12m Ivan Talley vessel was purchased in 2008 but its condition is deterioriating rapidly, leading to higher running and maintenance costs. Coastguard West Coast says a replacement vessel, that is suitable to cross the notorious Greymouth Bar and designed for search and rescue work, is available from Coastguard Auckland at a cost of $300,000.

Spokesman for Coastguard West Coast Doug Griffin says it is essential that when a marine emergency happens trained Coastguard volunteers are able to respond with the right equipment.

“Having a reliable, fit-for-purpose rescue vessel that will meet the needs of our community and in particular our challenging marine environment is absolutely crucial. Coastguard West Coast is working hard to fund this vital project for the community and as with any not-for-profit organisation, securing funds for these life-saving assets is challenging. This generous support from DWC has been a real boost, and has given us the encouragement and confidence to launch our fundraising campaign,” he says.

Coastguard West Coast is currently talking to other potential sponsors and funders and with the community’s support hopes to bring the new vessel into service on the Coast in 2016.

(1 September 2015)


District Economic Stimulus Fund Launched

Development West Coast has today launched a "District Economic Stimulus Fund that will provide $1 million to each of the three district councils to help boost business development and growth.

The Fund can not be used towards community assets but instead must be used by the councils for projects that will support business on the West Coast.

DWC Chair John Sturgeon says trustees recognised that in the current economic climate businesses are hurting.

"Trustees want to provide funding that supports the businesses environment and encourages employment on the Coast. This Fund will support initiatives to help businesses grow and can also be used by councils to leverage additional funding from Central Government and other funding sources," he says.

It is anticipated the funding will be used for projects like progressing the implementation of ultra fast broadband and other initiatives that will make doing business easier on the West Coast.

"This is a really positive and timely initiative for the Buller region and we will be looking carefully at what is the best use of the Fund," says Buller Mayor Garry Howard.

"The stimulus package that DWC is offering the three councils is just what we need at the moment and will enable us to get on with economic development and keep employment in the region", says Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn.

Westland Mayor Mike Havill says it is an initiative that will allow each council to get the maximum value for their communities.

"There is the opportunity to leverage off the $1 million so we will have to come up with projects that will allow us to generate even more funding and ensure the whole of the Westland District and its businesses benefit," he says.

Each District Council will develop proposals to be submitted to DWC for consideration. The main criteria to be met is the ability to demonstrate how the project or proposal will promote employment and generate sustainable economic benefits for the District.

DWC, in consultation with the District Councils, is also developing a specific business and industry stimulus fund to be made available direct to businesses. They plan to announce details in the next few weeks.

(14 August 2015)


Joint Venture Already Providing Employment on Coast

Development West Coast (DWC) has entered into a joint venture to develop a West Coast wholesale honey business that has the potential to provide 15-20 new jobs over the next three years.

DWC and Putake Honey are investors in the West Coast business which will be based at Coal Creek near Greymouth. Putake Honey also operates successful apicultural businesses in Marlborough and Taranaki.

DWC CEO Joseph Thomas says the investment by DWC will not only provide jobs but will also further expand an established industry for the West Coast.

"This partnership will create employment and scale up an industry which is currently fairly small on the Coast. Putake brings a proven business model to the West Coast and we hope bee-keeping will become an attractive career choice for young people in this region," he says.

The new joint venture has already created employment. Putake's head beekeeper has relocated to the West Coast to be closer to family and the company recently employed two local bee-keepers. A permanent part timer is likely to come on board shortly and six other casual employees have also been working over a six week period building boxes. It is estimated 15-20 new jobs will be created over three years.

Putake's founder and General Manager Renee De Luca says the company has spent the last two years working with DWC with a view to further developing the apicultural industry on the Coast.

"We wanted to make sure we had a good understanding of the West Coast environment and weather patterns. We are keen to grow a sustainable low impact industry, and we also want Putake to be a contributor to regional economic activity through new employment, local spending and local profits," she says.

Renee says Putake will be contributing to the local bee-keeping industry and already has land access arrangements in place that will provide good return for local landowners. "We are really excited about going into partnership with DWC as they provide us with much more than capital. Their local connections, experience and advice so far have helped us build a strong foundation and relationships on the Coast to continue to grow the business," she says.

The joint venture intends to create a business that can tell the unique West Coast story and in time will market and sell honey and other apicultural products worldwide.

 (23 July 2015)



Proposed Regional Economic Development Agency for the West Coast

The West Coast Mayors and Chairs Forum, comprising the Mayors and CEO’s of the three West Coast District Councils and the Chairs and CEO’s of the West Coast Regional Council (WCRC) and Development West Coast (DWC), have developed a proposal to establish a new Regional Economic Development role for the West Coast.

The Forum says the new role will operate independently of the Councils and DWC with its core responsibility being the implementation of the 11 action points that form part of the 2014 West Coast Regional Economic Development Plan which has identified the aspirational targets for up to 2030, including:

  • Job numbers region-wide grow 25% from 15,560 to 19,450 FTE’s by 2030
  • Regional population figures increase 15% from 32,148 to 36,970 by 2030
  • Regional GDP increases by 35% from $1.47 billion to $1.98 billion by 2030
  • Exports as a percentage of GDP exceeds 40% by 2030 (36% in 2013)

The WCRC and DWC have agreed to equally fund the new role while the three District Councils will continue to provide in-kind resources within their Councils to work with the new person in the role. The annual cost to each of DWC and the WCRC for their contribution is expected to be approximately $150,000.

An additional objective of the initiative is to achieve greater coordination and collaboration on regional economic development matters amongst various organisations, including Central and Local Government, Iwi, Industry and business.

(23 April 2015)



Graduates Up-Skilling West Coast Boards

The West Coast’s pool of leaders has had another boost with the graduation last night of participants on the third West Coast Leadership and Governance programme.

Twelve business people graduated from the intensive training programme, which has seen them hone their leadership and governance skills over 13 months. At least half are already serving on boards, community groups and not for profit organisations on the West Coast.

“The Coast is lucky to have young people like these who have skilled up and are willing to step into governance roles. The programme certainly seems to have given them an opportunity to prove to themselves what they can do,” says DWC Chair John Sturgeon.

37 people from a variety of backgrounds have now graduated from the Leadership and Governance programme. DWC launched the course in 2011 in conjunction with Westland Milk Products. Local businesses sponsor participants who this year came from Westland Milk Products, Grey District Council, DOC, FT Dooley Ltd, Buller Electricity, Buller Holdings and Chris J Coll Surveying Ltd.

Graduate Lynn Brooks from FT Dooley Ltd says if people get a chance to participate in the programme they should jump at the chance.

“It has given us skills and a greater understanding about governance and when we lift our game it will also have an effect on the rest of the board we are working with. All the participants want to thank their sponsors and DWC for supporting the programme. I think that it will have long term benefits for the Coast, and while they may be hard to measure they are very real,” she says.

DWC Business Support Manager Nelia Heersink says a fourth Leadership and Governance programme will take place in May 2015.

“We have seen these participants develop and grow over 13 months and it will be very exciting to get different industries involved when we launch the next programme later this year,” she says.

(10 April 2015)


Awards Finalists Announced


Seventeen businesses have today been named as finalists in the 2015 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards.

DWC CEO Joseph Thomas says the finalists, who span the West Coast from Westport to Franz Josef, should be very proud of their achievements.

“These businesses are to be congratulated as it is no easy task to make the final two or three in each category. We have some great sponsors on board, with many having been involved in the Awards since their inception. I know sponsors, finalists and their supporters are all looking forward to the gala Awards evening as it is an excellent opportunity for local companies and organisations to showcase their capabilities,” he says.

The gala event is being held at Shantytown on 8 May and will culminate with the announcement of the overall Greymouth Star Leading Light Super Nova Award winner. These Awards also include a new Environmental Award sponsored by the Department of Conservation and nearly half of all businesses entering this year have also entered this Environment Award.

DWC Business Development Manager Helen Wilson says the calibre of entries was high and she knows a lot of time and effort went into them in what was a busy time of year for most industries.

“Our judging panel has been very impressed with all the entrants and has had a difficult job selecting the finalists. Those who have made the finals obviously put a lot of passion into their entries and I am sure that is reflected in how they run their businesses. I can’t wait to celebrate that,” she says.

A team of independent judges from all over the South Island will now assess the finalists to determine the category winners. Each of the category winners will then be assessed by a guest judge from ANZ who will decide the winner of the Greymouth Star Leading Light Super Nova Award.

The Awards finalists are:

Duncan Cotterill Enterprise30+

  • Greymouth New World Ltd
  • Holcim Cement (Westport)
  • MBC

Crombie Lockwood Trades/Manufacturing/Primary Producer

  • Lake Brunner Service Centre Ltd
  • Simpson Residential Ltd
  • Robert Caldana Builder Ltd

Newstalk ZB Retail

  • IntoJeans
  • Waewae Pounamu
  • Crystal Rose Bridal Studio

NZIM Southern Professional Service

  • FitFX Personal Training
  • Roche Marketing Ltd
  • Momentoes

Westland Milk Products Not for Profit

  • West Coast Penguin Trust
  • Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae Inc.

Christchurch Airport Tourism & Hospitality

  • Monteith’s Brewing Co
  • Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
  • Greymouth Seaside Top 10 Holiday Park

ACC Workplace Safety Award

Small/Medium Business

  • Simpson Residential Ltd
  • Robert Caldana Builder Ltd

 Large Business

  • WestReef Services Ltd
  • Greymouth New World Ltd

 Department of Conservation Environment Award

  • West Coast Penguin Trust
  • Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
  • Holcim Cement (Westport)


 (2 April 2015)


$300,000 Funding Boost to Upgrade School Technology Infrastructure


West Coast secondary and area schools are to receive nearly $300,000 funding from DWC to ensure they can make the most of new technology like ultra fast broadband.

The funding boost will allow the seven West Coast schools to upgrade their ICT infrastructure so they are not constrained by capacity or access issues. It will give students the ability to access the same high quality ICT services and functionality as their counterparts across New Zealand. The financial support comes two years after DWC provided $303,000 to West Coast primary schools to upgrade wireless networks and purchase new classroom technology.

Chair of the West Coast Secondary and Area School Principals’ Association Kieran Stone says the funding is absolutely fantastic as schools will now be on an equal playing field with those throughout the country.

“We are noticing that students coming through from the primary schools are relatively computer literate so this will mean that all schools on the West Coast will have the infrastructure to make the best use of whatever technology comes our way. This is a huge investment by DWC, they are thinking very laterally and seeing education as a way of developing the West Coast economy,” he says.

DWC’s funding will contribute towards each of the West Coast secondary and area schools’ total ICT infrastructure upgrade costs. The schools must also contribute towards these costs and ensure they have in place an ICT sustainability plan.

DWC Chair John Sturgeon says Trustees see the economic and social benefit of assisting schools to make the most of new technology. “You have this great technology at the gate and you want to make sure the kids will be able to take full advantage of it. The funding given to the primary schools has been very successful. With more and more of the school curriculum being developed online, if the schools don’t have the capability to meet those curriculum requirements the students’ learning will be compromised,” he says.

Between 2011 and 2013 DWC funded 31 West Coast primary schools $303,000 to upgrade wireless networks and purchase new classroom technology including computers, tablets and digital cameras. An independent review of the first year of the Computers in Schools project found students were more engaged in learning and had increased motivation since the introduction of the new technology.

All West Coast schools apart from Karamea Area School are now connected to ultrafast broadband services.

 (17 March 2015)


DWC Helps to Retain Westport Flights


Development West Coast (DWC) and Sounds Air have signed an agreement that will see DWC provide finance to the airline to assist with the purchase of an aircraft to fly between Westport and Wellington.

DWC’s Chair John Sturgeon and Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford signed the commercial loan agreement in Greymouth yesterday.

Sounds Air has announced it will start a Westport to Wellington service in April when Air New Zealand withdraws from their service. The commercial loan from DWC will provide finance for the Marlborough based airline to purchase a Pilatus PC12 aircraft.

DWC CEO Joseph Thomas says DWC is pleased to be able to support the Buller and wider West Coast region with this investment.

“From an economic point of view it is important to provide continuity of air service for the region. We have been impressed with Sounds Air’s track record and are keen to support the airline to make a success of the new route,” he says.

Sounds Air has committed to a six-year term, flying between Wellington and Westport six days a week, with the possibility to extend the service if there is sufficient demand. The 40-minute flights will be on a nine-seater Pilatus PC12 - a single-engine, turboprop plane used worldwide, and extensively in Australia and the United States.

Managing director Andrew Crawford says the loan arrangement with DWC is a win-win for everyone.

“The support we have had from the Buller District Council (BDC) and DWC has been outstanding. To my mind the old model of an airline coming and trying to make it work is over. To operate an air service to smaller New Zealand communities takes a partnership and the BDC, DWC and Sounds Air are leading the way for what can be achieved,” he says.

Buller District Mayor Garry Howard says DWC’s investment will help provide a more comprehensive air service from Westport with affordable airfares.

“DWC is making finance available to secure an essential service for the West Coast and I believe it will benefit the whole of the Coast. Also, the planes Sounds Air will fly are used by Australia’s flying doctors so it may give us the ability to provide medical transfers from Westport which is a big plus for the region,” he says.

Sounds Air has recently purchased one Pilatus PC12 and is expecting delivery of a second aircraft in August? 2015. Flights between Westport and Wellington will have a set price of $199 each way for adults and $179 for children, including 20-kilogram baggage per person.


(13 February 2015)


Entries Open for Business Awards


Entries have today opened for the fourth West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards.

The 2015 awards and gala dinner will be held at Shantytown on 8 May and will include two new awards. The Department of Conservation is sponsoring an Environment Award which recognises businesses or organisations that demonstrate guardianship of the natural environment and ACC is extending its Workplace Health and Safety Award to both large and small businesses.

DWC Business Development Manger Helen Wilson says she would love to see employees encouraging their managers to enter this year.

“Entering the awards is such a strategic thing to do for your business. It boosts company pride and engenders a sense of team work that ultimately can improve business outcomes. Even becoming a finalist is worthwhile as every finalist gets a video which is an excellent marketing tool,” she says.

Buller civil construction and maintenance company WestReef Services Ltd won the Duncan Cotterill Leading Light Enterprise 30+ award in 2013.

“The awards process offered us the opportunity to ‘take a step back’, look at what we have achieved, and celebrate it. Equally as important, it has emphasised areas of our business that could require improvement,” says Operations Manager Dylan Taylor.

DWC is running seminars in late January to assist with the entry process. They will be held in Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika and will give ideas and tips on filling out the entry forms.

Helen Wilson says the awards would not be possible without the continued support of sponsors, many of which have been involved in the West Coast business awards since their inception in 2011.

The 2015 awards categories are Greymouth Star Super Nova Award, Duncan Cotterill Enterprise 30+ Award, Newstalk ZB Retail Award, New Zealand Institute of Management Southern Professional Service Award, Crombie Lockwood Trades/Manufacturing/Primary Producer Award, Tourism West Coast Tourism & Hospitality Award, Westland Milk Products Not for Profit Award, ACC Workplace Safety Award and Department of Conservation Environment Award. Silver sponsors include ANZ and Air New Zealand. .

For more information on the seminars or entry forms go to www.leadinglight.org.nz. Entries open on 12 January and close on 27 February.

 (12 January 2015)