Coaster returns home to head DWC

Former West Coaster and current GM of ANZCO Foods UK, Heath Milne, is to return home to become Chief Executive of Development West Coast.

Heath was selected from a high-calibre field of more than 30 applicants and will bring extensive commercial business experience and proven leadership skills to the role.

Heath’s career with food giant ANZCO started here on the West Coast but since 2007 he has been based in London, most recently heading up the business in the United Kingdom and Europe.

“I feel very privileged to take on the leadership of Development West Coast. The role will be a huge challenge and tremendous responsibility. I relish the opportunity to bring a new perspective and add my energy for the betterment of all West Coasters. The Coast has been through some tough economic times and there are undoubtedly more complex challenges ahead. With the help of the Trustees and DWC staff, I look forward to tackling those challenges head on when I arrive in the New Year”, Mr Milne says.

DWC Chair Renee Rooney is delighted that Heath has accepted the role. “Trustees were impressed with Heath’s extensive commercial skills, his leadership acumen and his experience in growing businesses”, she said. “We also prioritised an affinity with the West Coast and an intention to live here within the community. Heath’s deep knowledge of the Coast and his business capability are vital to DWC’s role as an economic development organisation”.

Heath will commence his role in January 2020. Chief Financial Officer, Mark Dawson, will take on the interim CEO role when current CEO Chris Mackenzie finishes at DWC in mid October.

(24 September 2019)

Benton steps aside after successful tourism transition

The tourism marketing functions of Tourism West Coast (TWC) migrated into Development West Coast (DWC) on 1 April 2019, with TWC winding up. The former board members of TWC have subsequently been appointed as the initial members of DWC’s new Tourism Strategy Group.

The Tourism Strategy Group acts in an advisory role to DWC’s chief executive, providing advice and insight on the West Coast tourism sector through the West Coast Tourism Strategy. The Group met recently for the first time and elected Dame Julie Christie as the interim chair.

Chair of the former Tourism West Coast Board, Richard Benton, has also announced his resignation from the new Strategy Group, noting it was now timely to stand down with the winding up of TWC and the transition to the strategy group now complete.

Mr Benton said, “On reflection as a Board member and Chair of Tourism West Coast over the last six years, I am particularly proud of the significant growth achieved in tourism numbers and GDP over my period of time, and the leadership shown in initiating and developing an award winning brand and strategy that should now hold the West Coast in really good stead for many years to come.”

DWC chief executive Chris Mackenzie wished to thank Richard for his contribution to tourism on the West Coast and the TWC Board over the past six years, and particularly for his commitment to the organisation and seeing through the significant and difficult changes to wind down TWC and merge its functions into DWC.
The membership and Terms of Reference for the new Tourism Strategy Group will be reviewed at the end of the year.

The Tourism Strategy Group consists of Dame Julie Christie (Chair), Margaret Montgomery, Stephen Roberts and Alexander Tschampel, with a replacement to be appointed in place of Richard Benton.

(2 September 2019)

DWC Group Annual Report 2019

2018/19 saw DWC transition into a wider economic development role following the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, broadening its depth of business support and preparing for the migration of the functions of Tourism West Coast into DWC from 1 April 2019.

During the year, two additional Business Development Managers (BDM) were employed. Working alongside an existing BDM, they travel the length of the region to offer and provide support to our businesses, no matter what size or at what stage they may be at.

Over 1,100 people attended DWC’s events - double last year’s. We have also doubled to 140 the number of clients we are actively working with. 17 clients have been matched with business mentors.

DWC approved 80 percent of commercial finance applications received, with 13 approvals totalling $2.23m. A further $450,000 was invested in regional development projects and $230,000 in community funding. In addition, DWC continues to fund its other commitments, including the Major District Initiative projects of $1.2m per annum, and Extraordinary Distribution Fund.

DWC’s Investment Fund had a sound year. While financial markets were volatile, an overall return of 7 percent was achieved and we finished the year with equity of $128.4m. This has enabled DWC to meet its strategic goal of maintaining the real value of its fund during the year, albeit we still sit below the real value of the original $92m settlement.

While we recorded a surplus of $5.4m for the year, our advisors are signalling that the strong returns we have been benefiting from may be more difficult to achieve over the coming year. Volatility in the investment markets has already been prevalent in the new financial year. This is something we need to manage as we work to protect the fund to meet both current demands and the needs of future generations

Download a copy of the 2019 Annual Report

(28 August 2019)

Development West Coast head resigns

Development West Coast (DWC) chief executive Chris Mackenzie has announced he will resign from his role with DWC on 27 September, after more than three years in the role.

DWC chair Renee Rooney says Mr Mackenzie will be missed.

“Chris not only brought an immense skill-set to his role; he also brought a unique knowledge of the organisation. His involvement with DWC goes back to the very beginning as the Government Appointed Trustee of the Interim West Coast Development Trust in 2001.

“We have been fortunate to have Chris at the helm during a time of significant organisational change. He has been instrumental in improving the provision of economic development on the Coast, leaving a far more coordinated approach to the region’s economic direction and development,” says Mrs Rooney.

Mr Mackenzie said it has been “a privilege to work with the Board of Trustees, and talented colleagues who will continue driving the region forward.”

“With key stakeholders working more closely together for the development of our region, I feel DWC is in a strong position and has a great team in place to continue delivering on the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Strategy”, says Mr Mackenzie

DWC will now begin the process of recruiting a new chief executive.

(14 June 2019)

DWC Westland Sports Hub

Westland Sports Hub major naming rights announced 

Development West Coast (DWC) chair Renee Rooney is pleased to announce DWC have secured major naming rights for the DWC Westland Sports Hub.

“The West Coast has a rich history of sporting success, but the importance of sport to our region goes far deeper than these achievements. Sport has long brought Coasters together, helping build thriving communities across our region,” says Mrs Rooney.

“Development West Coast is proud to partner with the Westland Sports Hub to support the major upgrade of sporting facilities in Hokitika. It will be a big game changer for Westland, benefiting most sporting codes, while importantly providing a venue to bring our communities closer together.”

Development West Coast, through the Westland District Council, has allocated $1.5 million MDI funding for this project.

Westland High School Board Chair, Latham Martin said: “We have negotiated a further financial contribution from Development West Coast to accompany the naming rights. This will help with any other operational costs, ncluding maintenance and administration of the facility.”

Fundraising Chair, Ange Keenan said that the fundraising efforts for the facility were still underway, and further naming sponsors were being sought for the facility.

“We are in the process of looking for naming sponsors for the courts and gymnasium, as well as individuals to sponsor the DWC Westland Sports Hub. We have plenty of sponsorship options for you, your family or your business to support this forward-thinking community project.”

(27 May 2019) 

Marketing campaign to get visitors back to the Coast

Following the reopening of the Waiho Bridge, Development West Coast (DWC) Trustees have allocated a budget of $41,000 for a targeted marketing campaign starting today to ensure visitor numbers get back to their usual thriving levels.

The West Coast has been one of the fastest growing tourism regions in New Zealand with visitors injecting over half a billion dollars directly into the economy each year. Tourism is critical to the West Coast economy, and any major disruptions to visitor numbers will have a significant economic impact on the wider region.

“The loss of the Waiho Bridge seriously impacted businesses right along the Coast, not only those in Fox and Franz townships. Thankfully a new bridge has been built in just 18 days,” says DWC chief executive Chris Mackenzie.

“We are incredibly grateful to the New Zealand Transport Agency, local contractors and members of the Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment for their tireless work building a new bridge in such a short time, reopening this key touring route.”

DWC’s Regional Tourism Manager Jim Little is overseeing an extensive marketing campaign to get visitors back during the crucial Easter holiday period.

“We need to get the word out that the Waiho Bridge is open, and our Untamed Natural Wilderness is open for business,” says Mr Little.

“Through extensive use of press and radio coupled with social media we will be targeting key markets to ensure visitor numbers are strong during this important holiday period.”

(15 April 2019)

Pounamu Pathway to lead West Coast culture and heritage future

An exciting new strategic view has been identified to lead the way for the future of culture and heritage development for the West Coast.

The West Coast is rich in its natural, built and cultural heritage. To date there has been a real focus on telling the stories about gold, coal and forestry in many locations throughout the region. A number of applications have been made to the Provincial Growth Fund to build on these West Coast stories.

However, research conducted by Tourism West Coast during the development of the Tourism Marketing Strategy, indicated that more than 70% of visitors wanted to find out more about the Māori story for Tai Poutini West Coast.

In addition to this, feedback received to date from the Provincial Development Unit, the investment body of Minister Shane Jones’ $3 billion fund, emphasised the requirement for the West Coast to present applications that are Regional and will bring Regional Economic benefit rather than present applications for individual Districts. This has resulted in applications relating to the development, redevelopment or extension of museum, cultural or heritage experiences being put on hold whilst the Region make decisions on the way forward.

A workshop of 36 participants from Iwi, Councils, Development West Coast, museum, heritage and cultural experiences met on 21 January to determine how to bring these initiatives together, linking the cultural and heritage stories across the region.

Francois Tumahai, Chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, said that the history of Maori across the West Coast had been missing from many of the stories of the region, and central to that story was pounamu.

“The workshop attendees felt a real resonance with the Pounamu Pathway concept, recognising the untapped value in this narrative.”

“This is not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater though,” Mr Tumahai pointed out. “The Pounamu Pathway will provide the overarching strategy to link together all of our Tai Poutini West Coast stories and present the collective regional direction for culture and heritage required for investment.”

Pounamu is unique to the West Coast and a key point of difference for the region when exploring Maori history.

“If we can encourage tourists to stay an extra night, or two, as they follow the Pathway, exploring the Maori stories from the first landings, to land battles, trade of pounamu, the discovery of gold, and how these then intertwine with our European settlement past, then this will provide the opportunity to generate significant additional spend throughout our region.”

(22 Janaury 2019)