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)

Media Release (2 September 2019)

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.

Chief Executive Report

Last year DWC conducted a business opinion survey with the majority of respondents expressing optimism about the economy for the coming year. Data from our recently published Economic Update reveals this optimism was not unfounded. After a prolonged period of decline there are signs the economy is starting to recover. Exciting things are happening on the Coast.

As an organisation, DWC is working with local businesses and stakeholders to leverage this optimism for the success and prosperity of the region.

At an operational level, 2018/2019 has been a year of significant change for DWC. Based on recommendations originally presented in the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, organisational changes have been implemented to ensure a more coordinated delivery of economic development on the West Coast.

The change saw the functions of Tourism West Coast merged into DWC. Minerals West Coast's project manager, MBIE’s principal regional advisor and an independent consultant also now share office space at DWC. Having this wealth of knowledge and skills working in the same building provides a unified way forward for the region.

Over the past year, DWC approved over 80 percent of commercial loan applications received, seeing $2.23m distributed to business and industry across the region.

While the financial markets remain volatile, DWC’s growth (or equity) investments returned 10.5 percent for the year. The 2018/2019 financial year sees DWC parent with total assets of $137.2m and total income for the year of $5.4m (excluding unrealised revenue). Our total operating expenses were $2.5m and DWC also invested $1.9m in community distributions and projects. The year ended with a net profit of $5.4m - ensuring DWC’s ability to continue investing in the region.

DWC's direct investment into the West Coast economy has now reached $153.9m while still maintaining the Fund at $128.4m - all from an initial fund of $92m. It is important that we maintain the real value of the Fund to ensure future generations on the Coast can benefit from continued distributions into the economy.

2001 - 2019 equity

The true worth of DWC to the West Coast goes far beyond these investments into the economy. DWC staff are working with a record number of local businesses to build capability, as well as helping them leverage other capital and business opportunities.

To make business support services accessible for all Coasters, our three business development managers travel from Karamea to Haast to meet local businesses and find out what we can do to help them.

We host regular business trainings, workshops and seminars that are targeted at the needs of local businesses. The past year has seen a significant rise in engagement with 1,179 attendees at DWC business events. In addition to building capabilities and knowledge, these events provide valuable networking opportunities for our business community.

DWC also continues to play a key role in funding regional development projects aimed at boosting industries and promoting the West Coast. Over $450,000 was invested in such projects this year.

Supporting regional growth is not something we are doing alone. The Government has shown optimism in the region by pledging over $130m through the Provincial Growth Fund for projects that reflect the priorities of the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Strategy (2018-2025).

Optimism in the region is also being reflected in the national media. A recent edition of NZBusiness Magazine featured a cover story on innovative West Coast businesses titled ‘Coastal confidence: how technology is building West Coast businesses’.

Alongside the region’s leaders and businesses, we look forward to building on this optimism and pushing ahead to create a prosperous future for the West Coast.

I want to acknowledge the guidance and expertise provided by the Trustees, the Advisory Body for their valuable advice, and my colleagues at DWC who have ensured this was a productive year for both the organisation and the region.

Chris Mackenzie - CEO

Chris Mackenzie

Chief Executive 


Download the full Annual Report (PDF 5MB)


2019 08 30 Tourism Hospitality Workshop

TOURISM & HOSPITALITY WORKSHOP: Telling compelling stories

Do you want to make better connections with your customers?

This workshop will provide you with the tools to craft a powerful, purposeful and provocative central theme to guide the development and bring purpose to the stories you tell; whether that is by way of a fully guided experience, interpretive panels, or both. The training will be built on your current know-how, and you will apply it to the stories, events, projects that you care about.

FACILITATOR: Ian Johnson (Sustainable Tourism & Thematic Interpretation NZ)

DURATION: Two days (consecutive Saturdays, 6 hours each day)


COST: $150

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


DAY ONE – Project, tools and themes

We will deconstruct what we think we know about the art and effect of storytelling, and then get to work on our own stories: Because if we want our guests to love what we love just as much as we do, have our passion matter as much to them as it does to us, and be inspired to care about what we care about - we can. Thematic Interpretation workshops on applied communication and interpretive methods have been applied successfully around the globe in over 40 countries to a combined audience of 42,000.

DAY TWO – Working on your project

If we’ve achieved our day one goals, you will have had an explosion of creativity in the intervening seven days and have more ideas than you know what to do with. Day two is where we corral those ideas, introduce some tools and rules, and start really shaping our interpretive experiences. What you will leave with is the entire playbook for applying the thematic interpretation methodologies to every story you ever want to tell.

DWC Annual Report 2019: Chair's Report

This year Development West Coast (DWC) has challenged itself to be a more customer-focused organisation. This has resulted in greater engagement with local businesses. Our core values of accountability and transparency drive our commitment to better communicate the stories behind the numbers and the work we do, so it gives me great pleasure to present our Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2019.

It has been a year of change as we transition DWC into a wider economic development role. We are here to help grow businesses. We are listening to their needs and working with them to overcome the barriers they face in their day-to-day operations.

DWC Trustees are always mindful of the balance required to meet both current demands and the needs of future generations. This year the Trustees have put particular emphasis on maintaining the real value of the Investment Fund from which we derive the income that we can distribute locally. At present, for every $25m that DWC has in its fund, it can sustainably spend $1m in the region.

Running the Fund down or even conserving it at the current level means there will be less money to invest in the region in the future. As an example, today's $128.4m equity would need to be $184m in 2037 to generate the same benefits as in 2001 (assuming the inflation rate is replicated).

Despite the best efforts of our resourceful people, the last five years has seen the West Coast in a major economic downturn. DWC’s recently published Economic Update indicates the economy is finally showing signs of recovery. While Buller is still recovering, the Westland and Grey districts appear to be on track to meet most of their targets set in the Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Development Strategy (2018-2025).

While it is heartening to see some positive trends emerging within our economy, we cannot become complacent. There will inevitably be further challenges ahead and we must meet these with a unified voice and work together to find effective outcomes for all involved.

Under the Regional Economic Development Strategy, which builds on the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, DWC has been tasked with leading the region’s economic direction and development. To ensure a coordinated approach, there has been a restructuring to the provision of regional economic development on the West Coast. It has taken time to put these changes in place, but we believe they will enable the region to work together in a more unified manner on regional development. This will ultimately present new opportunities for the Coast.

Meanwhile, the Government has acknowledged the opportunities present in regional New Zealand with the creation of the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). Through working together, the West Coast has to date secured $130.5m in PGF funding for projects. It is great to see these investments are not only playing to our historic strengths but also looking to the future by supporting our emerging industries.

This Annual Report highlights some of the ways we work with businesses and industries to strengthen the economy and create thriving communities across our region. We must stress that these achievements do not happen in isolation. From the business leaders who give their time to present inspirational talks at networking events, to the business mentors who volunteer to help local entrepreneurs, many people must be thanked for the invaluable support they give DWC in achieving its objects.

Thanks must also be given to the West Coast councils who we work with on many projects. DWC's investment into community distributions and projects reached $64.8m this year. This includes $20.1m committed to the three West Coast district councils through to 2022 via the Major District Initiative Fund (MDI), and a one-off $6m Extraordinary Distribution Fund (EDF) also allocated across the councils.

This year has seen many Coast businesses succeeding on the national and international stage with the media spotlight shining brightly on their achievements. At DWC we provided a platform for the region to come together to celebrate success by holding the 6th Development West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards. This was a fantastic evening showcasing the finalists and the stories behind their businesses.

This Annual Report aims to tell our DWC story, of what we do and how we do it. We have included some first-hand stories from our fast growing client base, which has doubled over the past year. We acknowledge that actions speak louder than words and that we are accountable to our West Coast community. With a unified vision and strategy in place for the region, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help grow businesses to grow the Coast.

I would like to sincerely thank my fellow Trustees for their support and contribution during the year, Advisory Body for their sound professional and independent advice, chief executive Chris Mackenzie for his leadership and the DWC staff for their ongoing hard work and unwavering commitment to the organisation and the West Coast region.

Renee Rooney 


Renee Rooney - Chair


Download the full Annual Report (PDF 5MB)



What our clients are saying:

“DWC’s support has been a game changer for me. They have given me confidence to execute my business strategy because they believe in what I am doing. This is really important because being in business can be challenging so the objective and knowledgeable expertise they offer is invaluable.” Emily Miazga, Em's Power Cookies 

“So many people don’t realise what support is available for businesses here on the Coast. We highly recommend other local businesses take advantage of the many forms of assistance available through DWC. We’ve always had amazing communication and support when dealing with them.” Moreen Evans, Jeff Evans Ltd. 

“Bouncing my thoughts off experienced advisors and hearing their input was extremely helpful. An informed outside perspective is invaluable to me as a small business owner." Jase Blair, West Coast

“We found the DWC staff to be knowledgable and helpful and very keen to keep our entire operation on the West Coast.” Lewis Simpkin, Westland Workgear

"Having support from DWC has allowed us to grow our business and create new jobs in the area." Nevelle Thomson, Thomsons Butchery.