2019 12 11 WC Leadership Programme Graduation

From left to right: Renee Rooney (DWC chair), Pauline Ansley, Frank O’Toole, Abbie Provis, Scott Nelmes, Anna-Marie Thompson, Travis Terry, Joy Comrie, Andrew McCord, Rimu McGrath, Neal Clementson, Anthony Hopkins and Therese La Porte (NZIML); Absent: Ross Thomas, Crystal Koki, Toni Bang and Scott Freeman.

Graduates of DWC leadership course ready to apply new skills


The 2019 West Coast Leadership Programme wrapped up on Thursday in Greymouth with fifteen new graduates from a range of West Coast industries and sectors.

Facilitated by Development West Coast (DWC) and delivered by the New Zealand Institute of Management and Leadership (NZIML), the seven-month programme held across the Coast included workshops on the core facets of leadership and management.

DWC events coordinator Rachel Doolan says the programme offers a unique learning opportunity for new team leaders and those progressing in their careers to build their leadership capabilities, advance their knowledge and deliver results.

“The current pool of graduates is an enthusiastic group who will apply what they have learned to their own careers and businesses,” Rachel says.

Since its launch in 2001, the content of the programme has been constantly evolving to meet the needs of the region. Close to 90 West Coasters have now graduated from DWC’s Leadership Programme.

Past graduates include Buller Mayor, Jamie Cleine, and local government officials. Other graduates have gone on to join boards of West Coast and New Zealand businesses, not-for-profit organisations and community groups.

DWC Chair Renee Rooney graduated from the Leadership Programme in 2015 and stresses its importance for the West Coast.  

“This programme is a fantastic opportunity for growing and supporting our West Coast talent pool. Having more people in our communities with strong leadership capabilities is of immense importance to our region for its growth, success and sustainability into the future,” Renee says.

“Holding a programme of this calibre locally ensures participants don’t have to travel off the Coast to other cities to attend. But more importantly, it provides a setting for current and future Coast leaders to network amongst each other, build relationships and keep connected.”

Therese Le Porte from NZIML said the graduation marked the close of some great discussions throughout the series of workshops.

“I hope it will mark the start of a network of local leaders who will continue to share conversations and ideas about leadership and work on the West Coast,” she says.

Travis Terry from Ngāi Tahu Forestry participated in the programme saying it gives you a great foundation to grow in a management role.

“I would recommend the DWC Leadership Programme for anyone starting out in a management role or working in a leadership role and wanting to grow their capabilities to further their career.”

For expressions of interest for the programme next year contact Rachel at DWC on 03 769 7000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2019 12 11 Tourism operators ensure successful famils in 2019

West Coast Famils

DWC works closely with local tourism operators to bring international travel sellers and media to the West Coast to familiarise themselves with what our amazing region has to offer.

These familiarisation (famil) programmes help boost the profile and visibility of the Coast within a competitive visitor market. The success of these famils would not be possible without the generous support of our tourism members who sponsor around $400k a year worth of in-kind product towards famils - the second highest amount within New Zealand.

As the year comes to a close, we would like to thank our tourism members for supporting these famils and helping promote our Untamed Natural Wilderness.

Lomah Felt

Lomah Felt

Up and down the West Coast, in offices and warehouses, home offices and kitchen tables, small businesses are flourishing. Development West Coast runs a nine-week programme called Co.Starters to equip aspiring entrepreneurs so they can turn ideas into action. Many of the businesses do not have a traditional store front, so in this series of Open for Business, the Greymouth Star and Development West Coast sample some of the emerging small enterprises that are helping shape the future.

Co.Starters graduate Jan Fraser has turned her passion into a business. Through her business Lomah Felt, she turns raw wool and silk into high-end felted woollen garments, boots and accessories.

“I grew up on a farm in the King Country, so I guess that is where my appreciation for wool started,” she says.

Jan was surrounded by a love of art while she was growing up. Her grandmother was an artist and her mother and aunt were involved with arts and crafts around New Zealand. After leaving school Jan went on to study craft design at Waikato Polytech.

“I then spent the rest of my life raising children and doing work I didn’t really enjoy,” she says.

“Around 20 years ago I had a dream of owning a piece of land and calling it LOMAH – Land of Milk and Honey – from the story of Moses and the Israelites waiting in the wilderness to enter their promised land. It hasn’t quite been their forty years, but I now have my own slice of paradise at Barrytown.”

Jan has fallen in love with the West Coast and the inspiration its untamed natural wilderness provides.

“To express myself as an artist it is important I am somewhere that harmonises with my senses. The Coast is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth. From mist rising off the forest after the rain to glistening snowy mountains, comfortably hot late summer days, native birdsong at the break of day and the smell of the sea - what more could you want?” she says.

“Apart from briefly dabbling with felt-making at Polytech, I only really got into it about two years ago. I made some booties for my grandchildren and it just took off from there. I have done a couple of training workshops with world-class felt-makers in the past year and decided this is what I want to do for work.

“I was still mulling over the idea - ‘could I turn my hobby into an income’. I wanted to give it a go but had zero experience or knowledge about how to make it a reality.”

To help progress her ideas, Jan signed up for DWC’s Co.Starters business start-up and development programme being run by WestREAP in Greymouth.

“This was a great course for me and at the right time. I had the ideas for my business but didn’t know how to develop it. Co.Starters ran me through the whole process from market research to the legal stuff. I left feeling confident with an ‘I can do this’ attitude and was able to figure out the next steps in developing my business.

“I want to take growing Lomah Felt quite slowly. Of more value to me, and my business, is that I gain a name as a felt-maker and artist who produces high quality items. This is not something you can fake. You can’t launch yourself to the world and say - ‘here I am, I am a world class felt-maker’. You have to work to get that recognition. That is my goal.

“The Coast is not a region known for its wool, but I have found some excellent wool grown right here that is perfect for boot making. Others import the right kind of wool from Europe, but this is better. NZ’s merino growing zone is right on our doorstep. This means I can keep my ‘footprint’ low by purchasing one of my principle raw materials locally.

“For other materials I use the internet. I can live in this beautiful quiet place and still have access to the world market. The price of real estate here on the Coast means that my dream of owning a small lifestyle block and running a business from home can be a reality. I couldn’t afford to do this anywhere else.”

Lomah Felt’s products are currently available at Nimmo’s Gallery in Greymouth. Jan also has products available online via the Lomah Felt Facebook page or website.

If you would like to register an expression of interest in the Co.Starters business startup and development programme for the new year, please contact Development West Coast at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2019 11 26 Coast Community Comment

Community Comment

Coasters value and respect their region, and are proud to live, work, and operate businesses here. We have diversity in our region, and an inter-dependent economy. Most importantly, what we do, we strive to do it well.

There are many reasons Coasters choose to live, work, play, invest and raise families here.

Just like years gone by, our region is rich with opportunity, but with opportunities come challenges, and this will be the same for future generations of Coasters.

Coasters understand the need to be both economically and environmentally sustainable. At times, balancing that can be a challenge.

Our region needs a strong economy. A strong economy means security of work for small to medium sized businesses supporting large industry. It means thriving communities, with strong school rolls, sports clubs, community facilities, shops and restaurants.

We are fortunate to have such diversity in our business sector. It’s essential we retain this, and also attract new business and innovation to the Coast.

Land-based and primary-sector industries are the backbone of our region. On the Coast, primary industries make up 23 percent of our GDP, compared to only 7 percent for New Zealand.

This shows how dependent on our land and environment we are and why we must operate in a sustainable way.

We know tourism is also a vital economic driver for our region, relying on good infrastructure and products from our land.

Our region is unique. Despite its long geographical spread, only around 16 percent of land is rateable. Add a low population base of 32,600 and it can be a perfect storm.

Access to market is essential for the West Coast – our roading and rail networks, ports, and electricity supply are key to our economic success and resilience.

No matter what the industry, we know Coasters can operate businesses whilst also being good custodians of the land. We are aware of the environment we operate in. We understand our constraints. We are innovative in our thinking, and can adapt and find solutions.

Coasters have always been trailblazers with a real entrepreneurial zeal, and our business community demonstrates this in spades. We may have less than one percent of New Zealand’s population, but that has never stopped Coasters punching above their weight and succeeding on the national and international stage - not just in business, but in sporting success as well.

We have a provenance stories to be proud of. Reefton Distilling Co. has won awards nationally and internationally, and Maruia Hot Springs recently won two awards at the World Luxury Spa Awards. We also have New Zealand’s best butter, New Zealand’s best bacon, and New Zealand’s best toastie sandwiches! The list goes on.

With access to the resources our pristine natural environment offers, our innovative businesses can produce value-add products and services from the purest sources and our industries can continue driving our economy.

Working collaboratively with all stakeholders is essential to achieving good outcomes for our region. Our region is a large footprint with a small population – and while we have it all, we need it all.

(DWC Chair - Renee Rooney) 

2019 11 06 Omoto slip

NZTA working closely with KiwiRail on Omoto Slip Site.


In a meeting on 5 November 2019, NZTA and KiwiRail updated Mayor Tania Gibson, the Grey District BPA and DWC on progress with the Omoto slip site. NZTA is working closely with KiwiRail to ensure long-term security for both the state highway and rail link. A drill rig is on site draining water from the slip surface with drilling expected to be complete by Monday 18 November, weather dependent.

For latest progress updates visit: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh7-omoto-east-landslide/


MEDIA RELEASE: 5 November 2019 3:23 pm | NZ Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail say work is progressing on draining the Omoto slip site, with a drill rig now on site to undertake drainage of water from the slip surface.

The rig will be installing boreholes today to monitor groundwater, before starting the drainage drilling later this week.

“Movement at the slip has steadied over the last week, however we continue to regularly monitor ground movement to ensure the safety of our workers,” says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager for the Transport Agency on the West Coast.

“We are monitoring the weather forecast over the next 10 days and continually assessing what impact it may have on our work.

“This stage of drilling work is expected to be complete by Monday 18 November, weather dependant, and we will be able to share more details of what our next steps will be after that.

“We appreciate the disruption and inconvenience this is causing, particularly to residents in Kaiata and Dobson, and ask for their continued patience while we work on a robust repair strategy,” Ms Whinham says.

“The Transport Agency is working closely with KiwiRail to ensure that we can provide long-term security for both the state highway and rail link.”

KiwiRail South Island General Operations Manager Jeanine Benson says “KiwiRail knows how important this is for the West Coast and our customers there, and we are determined to resume running the world-class TranzAlpine service all the way to Greymouth, and to get our customers’ freight onto rail.

Until the repairs are completed the TranzAlpine will continue to run between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass, with passengers bussed between there and Greymouth.