Coast Women Network

Almost 70 West Coast women attended a recent Women in Business breakfast at the Paroa Hotel, to network and share ideas.

"The audience were treated to passionate talks from three inspirational female entrepreneurs who are making the Coast proud with their achievements," Development West Coast events coordinator Rachel Doolan said.

Host and DWC trustee, Dame Julie Christie, said guest speakers Emily Miazga (Em's Power Cookies), Andrea Rogers (The Crafty Chook), and Patsy Bass (Reefton Distilling Co) showed the importance of a strong and authentic story.

"These women are living proof that there is no such thing as good luck in business, it is in fact impeccable timing and excellent management."

Jan Roberts, from the Breakers Boutique Accommodation, attended and said it was great for networking with like-minded people in the community, making new relationships and reconnecting with others as "we don't often get a chance to so during the hustle and bustle of everyday life."

Lee Harris, from the West Coast Professional Women's Network, said it was inspirational
for women on the Coast who were considering starting their own businesses.

“These three also all mentioned Development West Coast in their speeches - good to hear of practical assistance for our entrepreneurs.”

Penny Kirk attended saying: “The Business Breakfast Event was an excellent opportunity for women across the whole community to come together for learning, inspiration and networking.”


DWC Annual Report 2019 Annual Report banner

Media Release 

Development West Coast 2019 Annual Report Released

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 (PDF 5MB):

Annual Report icon


(Wednesday 28 August 2019)

Artist drawn back to the Coast

Once a Coaster, always a Coaster.

There is something unique about growing up on the West Coast which leaves a lasting impact on people. There are proud Coasters living all over New Zealand and the world who will always call the Coast home - with many eventually returning.

Artist Marilyn Rea-Menzies is one of these Coasters who has been drawn back. You can take the girl out of the Coast, but you can't take the Coast out of the girl.

Marilyn was born in Westport in 1944, the eldest of nine children. She was bought up on the O’Conor Home Farm, which was managed by her father, Alan Rea.

When she was 17 Marilyn went off to Teachers’ Training College in Christchurch before moving back to the Coast where her husband managed the Buller Valley Dairy Co. until it closed in 1971. This saw them shift up to the North Island to Te Puke, Wairoa and Tauranga.

“I lived in Tauranga until 1990 when I came back to the South Island, firstly to Picton, where I spent almost four years running the International Weaving School, then to Christchurch where I had a studio in the Arts Centre until the 2011 earthquake. Another six years in Hamilton where four of my five kids had settled, and finally here I am, back in Westport. So, lots of shifts around the country,” Marilyn says.

“I am a West Coaster at heart and when my kids started to shift away from the Waikato, I knew that it was time for me to come home. Financially it made sense and also the Coast is very much my home place.”

“I have been painting and drawing since I was about 10 years old and always joined the local art groups wherever I lived, so kept up my skills in drawing while the kids were growing up.

“I taught myself to weave tapestries in the early 1980’s and quickly got hooked on that wonderful process and have never stopped weaving since. I have been working professionally as an artist since the early 1990’s and my work has been shown and purchased nationally and internationally.”

Marilyn’s work hangs in many collections, both public and private, around the world. She has a small tapestry in the Jean Lurcat Museum in Angers, France. Her largest tapestry is the ‘Millennium Tapestry’, which is 15 square feet hanging in the Christchurch City Council Building. She also has a tapestry screen in Government House in Wellington, and in many other public spaces around the country.

Having shifted back to Westport, the town she loves, Marilyn is setting up a studio/gallery/teaching space in Palmerston Street.

“I welcome anyone to come and visit for an ‘Art Experience’. My work includes paintings, drawings, tapestries, digital work and photography,” Marilyn says.


Marilyn Rea-Menzies Art Studio & Gallery

241 Palmerston Street, Westport 7825

Cell:  027 4743441

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

Marilyn's art



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Goldfield suites

Swapping high-pressure Government jobs for the Coast life


After years of high-pressure roles in Wellington, Andy and Jolene finally left the ‘pressure cooker’ for a better quality of life on the West Coast, where they now own and operate boutique accommodation suites surrounded by the Coast’s Untamed Natural Wilderness.

Andy and Jolene were both born and bred in Wellington, spending the last 20 years on the Kapiti Coast.

“Living on the Kapiti Coast required daily commutes of about an hour each way to our respective Government jobs,” Jolene says.

Andrew was an Intelligence Manager, with a background in law enforcement. His career saw him do border patrol for customs, deploy to Bali as part of the NZ Police response to the 2002 Bali bombing, undertake peace keeping in Timor Leste in 2006, and work in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands with NZ Police. He also helped establish the Commerce Commission’s intelligence team, and recently established an intelligence-led approach to Education NZ’s international student attraction activities.

Jolene had a background in hospitality, which led to running motels and managing the front desk for large hotels. She has also worked in the not-for-profit sector, Government policy and operational ministries, and most recently at New Zealand's Crown Research Institute Environment, Science and Research as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive.

“Our motivation for moving to the Coast was all about quality of life. High pressure government roles, combined with the daily commute, five days a week, got us thinking ‘there must be more to life than this?’” Jolene says.

“The thought of another 15 years in our roles, alongside the 20 good summers theory (when you hit 50 you only have 20 good summers left in life), resulted in the decision to not defer living until we retire. The result was a complete sea-change for us.”

This brought them to Greymouth, where they now own and operate the Goldfield Suites - boutique accommodation built on historic goldfields next-door to Shantytown.
“Our five suites are situated in an elevated clearing within two hectares of native bush and placed to make the most of the views and the rural setting.”

Jolene says there were many advantages to moving to the West Coast.

“The lower cost of land meant we could afford to buy something unique that we couldn’t have afforded in the North Island. Coupled with the largely unspoiled environment, we have the opportunity to take an environmentally sustainable approach to our business.

“For us the advantages are all about quality of life, particularly the extra time in the day, the ability to work together, the ability to enjoy the magnificent environment that is on our doorstep, and the amazing friendly Coasters.

“Life has now become all about ‘working to live, not living to work’.”


Goldfield Suites Boutique Accommodation:

 Goldfields Suites



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Nature-based learning.


Development West Coast runs a nine-week business startup and development programme called Co.Starters. It is always satisfying to see graduates of the programme go on to turn their ideas into action. And Jess Gummer, has done just that.

With ten years’ experience working with youth, Jess believes the classroom environment is not always the most enjoyable or beneficial for some young people. Being an outdoor enthusiast, she is passionate about seeing children develop their confidence through taking risks in the great outdoors. Jess strongly advocates outdoor experiential learning for kids, and she is now bringing an internationally recognised nature-based development programme, TimberNook, to the West Coast.

Originally from Kent in South East England, Jess completed a degree in youth and community work and began working as an outdoor instructor with young people with disabilities and school groups.

She came to New Zealand in 2015. After a stint in Dunedin as a support worker, Jess shifted up to Greymouth when her partner enrolled in the pounamu carving programme at Tai Poutini Polytechnic. At first, she was a little apprehensive about moving to Greymouth, but soon fell in love with the Coast.

“It’s just so beautiful here. There are just so many walking tracks to explore and beaches to enjoy. We’re spoilt with natural beauty. The community is also small and supportive which I like,” Jess says.

In Greymouth, she first worked in alternative education with young people who had been disengaged from mainstream schooling and then as a teacher aide at Paroa Primary School. Working with these kids further reinforced her belief in the importance of nature-based learning.

Jess says she was influenced by psychologist Peter Gray’s book ‘Free to learn’, which explains how child-led play allows children to control their own lives through problem solving, developing effective communication with peers, and becoming more emotionally resilient.

“After reading ‘Free to learn’ I was really motivated to set-up a self-directed programme for kids on the Coast,” she says.

To see if she could develop her idea and make it a reality, Jess joined DWC’s Co.Starters business development programme being run in Greymouth by WestREAP.

“Co.Starters really helped me refine my ideas. It was great being in a room every week with supportive people you could bounce ideas off. With Layla and Fergal we had great facilitators and every week local business people would come and share their experiences.

“Originally I planned to run my own programme, but during Co.Starters I began to realise how difficult it would to do this on my own. While researching I stumbled across TimberNook, a nature-based play programme that was started in the United Stated by an occupational therapist and has now spread across the world.

“When I saw children making huts and playing with loose parts, which is a term used to describe materials that can be used as anything imaginable and creative the children come up with, for example a leaf can be used as money, rocks and grass could be a plate of spaghetti – the possibilities are endless. I thought this would be an amazing programme to bring to the Coast.”

Jess then got involved with TimberNook and she will now be facilitating the first West Coast programme in the July school holidays.

“Did you roll down the hills as a child? Did you throw a pile of leaves at your friends? Did you jump in puddles or climb up trees?” Jess asks.

“If the answer is yes to any of these questions, and you want your children to experience a similar childhood to yours, then please send them to TimberNook during the school holidays.

“Their senses will be challenged, their imagination, confidence and emotional resilience will develop, and we will see some strong confident kids”.

The TimberNook ‘barefoot and buckets’ holiday programme is designed for children between 5-12 years. It will run 9am-3pm from Monday 15 July to Friday 19 July. $225 for the five days or $50 per day. Or if you just want to see what the programme is all about come along to the free launch and open day at 2:30pm-4pm, Sunday 14 July at Kahurangi Lodge Scout Den, Kumara Junction. For more information email Jess or Wendy Pirie at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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