Construction of a purpose-built dental surgery in Hokitika is underway with support from DWC.
Established Greymouth dentist Angelo Ioanides says the new clinic should be up and running by early to mid-November 2020.
“Like it or not, dentistry is an essential service. Having gone without the services of a local dentist for almost eight years, I’m incredibly excited to not only re-establish this essential service but to also be setting up one of New Zealand’s most technologically advanced dental surgeries right here in the heart of Hokitika,” says Angelo.
“We’re looking to secure the services of various visiting dental specialists to provide specialist care locally. Not only will this greatly reduce the need for Coaster’s to travel over the hill for care, it will also create more jobs locally. In fact, our plan is to employ nine locals to help us deliver extraordinary dental care to the region.
“Setting up a brand-new dental practice requires significant capital. Taking on this project as an independent solo dentist simply would not have been possible without the remarkable help of DWC. Over the five years of planning this project we faced countless challenges and obstacles and through it all DWC have been unwaveringly supportive,” says Angelo.
Having successfully run a crowdfunding campaign aimed at employing a larger team from day one, Hoki Dental is currently in the process of recruiting 4 people to join its team. For those interested in applying, more details can be found on the Hoki Dental Facebook page.
Wikipedian at Large on the West Coast
DWC has brought New Zealand’s ‘Wikipedian at Large’, Dr Mike Dickison, to the West Coast.
“Wikipedia is a window to the world, and every place’s public face,” says Mike Dickison, who spent a year travelling New Zealand as the world's first 'Wikipedian at Large', supported by the US Wikimedia Foundation.
Dickison is currently running free workshops across the West Coast to train people to become Wikipedia editors and showing tourism operators how the online encyclopaedia can help their business. With a team of remote volunteers, he is also working with heritage organisations, galleries, libraries, and museums to boost the West Coast's Wikipedia presence.
Wikipedia is the 8th most visited website in the world. Wikipedia articles are regularly in the top search results for any topic. Anyone can edit Wikipedia, and the articles are written by volunteers; currently, about 250,000 dedicated editors (Wikipedians) around the world.
“Despite the lack of an editorial board, Wikipedia's coverage is usually very accurate, sometimes amazingly so. There are teams of volunteers and software ‘bots’ that check the articles for accuracy and remove vandalism within a few minutes. Since it was launched in 2001, Wikipedia has been a great example of the power of collaboration and crowdsourcing,” he says.
But according to Dickison, New Zealand has a Wikipedia problem. “Our volunteer editor community is quite small. So in almost every area – towns, national parks, artists, endangered species – Wikipedia's coverage is much poorer than a similar place, person, or thing in the UK or the USA.
“For example, Lyme Regis is a seaside town in Dorset which is popular with fossil hunters. It has similar tourist numbers to Fox Glacier. But the article on the town Fox Glacier is only 150 words long, while the Lyme Regis article is 2600 words.
“The article on the Glacier itself is only about 400 words, and is dominated by coverage of fatal accidents! That's ridiculous for a world-class attraction. I can't imagine someone planning a trip to the West Coast and Googling the famous Fox Glacier wanting to stay and explore the area based on that.”
DWC marketing and communications officer Aaron Rees says having Dr Dickison on the Coast presents a great opportunity to increase our region’s presence on Wikipedia.
“In partnership with our district libraries, we will be holding several workshops across the region for the public, as well as sperate workshops for our tourism and hospitality operators to help them leverage Wiki to boost their online presence,” says Mr Rees.
Dickison says while Wikipedia itself is not a marketing tool, there are different projects businesses can work with, such as the online travel guidebook Wikivoyage and the image library Wikimedia Commons. “Anything we do to improve the depth and breadth of the Coast's coverage will have direct and indirect payoffs. We can all contribute, and there are thousands of volunteers around the world wanting to help."
West Coast Governance Programme.
Development West Coast is bringing governance training to the West Coast business community. The West Coast Governance Programme, facilitated by Westlake Governance, will commence in September 2020.
DWC chief executive Heath Milne says the programme will help participants understand the key roles and responsibilities of the board and individual directors.
The series of four one-day workshops is designed for new and aspiring board members, and for those who work directly with a board - whether in a medium-sized business, a national co-operative or a small community organisation, school Board of Trustees, or a local government body.
Buller Mayor, Jamie Cleine, graduated from the programme in 2018.
“Good governance is so critical to the success of the West Coast and the DWC governance training gives you a great foundation,” says Mayor Cleine.
“I encourage anyone considering governance roles at any level from sports clubs, school boards or even local government to complete the course You never stop learning and the course helped me identify a professional development pathway and to contribute much more effectively at a governance level.”
COVID-19 is presenting both challenges and opportunities.
Over the last couple of months, DWC has hosted journalists and reporters from TVNZ Breakfast, Stuff, NZHerald and Seven Sharp, just to name a few. This has resulted in great exposure for the region in the national media. We thank all our tourism operators who have helped showcase the Coast to the rest of the country.
In the current environment the West Coast has been doing relatively well at attracting domestic visitors. According to MBIE data, retail spending on the Coast over the past four weeks was 7.9% higher than for the same period last year. In contrast New Zealand has experienced a decrease in spending of 8%.
Despite the current positive numbers, we remain cautious as there is no guarantee on how long domestic visitor numbers will continue and when international visitors will return.
COVID-19 is already having a significant effect on our economy. Unemployment amongst our working age-population has now risen to 8% - up from 6.1% at the start of the year. It’s important to note that these figures are for the week ended 4 September. Since then the wage subsidy extension and the resurgence wage subsidy have begun to end, so the jobseeker numbers may have increased further.
The impact of COVID is being experienced in vastly different ways across the region, with the Glacier Country being particularly hard hit by the loss of international visitors. It is understandably having a very real effect on the mental wellbeing of business owners and their staff. With this in mind, we recently held a wellbeing workshop in Fox Glacier.
The full extent of the economic shock of COVID is still to play out, so it is vital we support one another and leverage available opportunities.
DWC’s Capability and Growth Advisors have now issued around 200 vouchers to local businesses through the Regional Business Partner (RBP) network’s COVID-19 Business Advisory Fund and the Tourism Transition Fund. This support has enabled local businesses to tap into valuable professional advice services. We have also signed up more local service providers to the RBP programme to ensure we can keep both the advice and revenue on the Coast.
Our new PGF-funded Upskill employment and training scheme has hit the ground running. The Upskill team are providing further opportunities for West Coast businesses, supporting people to attain recognised industry qualifications, and building industry skills. The timing of Upskill couldn’t be better with numerous construction projects about to get underway. We are supporting local companies to get ready to take on contracts, meaning less of the work will end up with outside contractors.
At DWC we are looking at wider opportunities for the region. Alongside the West Coast Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Iwi, we have just signed an MoU to form the Kotahitanga kit e Uru Regional Alliance.
The Alliance has been established to initiate, support and drive West Coast initiatives and secure central government funding to support the economic recovery and mitigate the social and economic impacts of COVID.
There are also opportunities to mitigate the economic impact of COVID by increasing our output in the minerals sector. The proposed reopening of the Spring Creek mine would have a significant positive economic impact. The mine has some of the highest quality coal in the world, which can be used in the manufacture of silicon for electronics and solar panels. A real win-win opportunity.
It is a very challenging time, but there are opportunities out there and the team at DWC are here to help.
Chief Executive I Development West Coast
Seven Sharp competition.
The Toe Toe family from Murupara won a West Coast getaway in Seven Sharp’s ‘Talk up your Town’ competition.
The competition, run in partnership with Development West Coast (DWC), asked viewers to send in videos talking up their towns.
The Toe Toe family’s video of Murupara won them an ultimate West Coast holiday package. The family of nine are currently travelling around the West Coast. Their West Coast adventure will be shown on Seven Sharp next week.
DWC Chief Executive Heath Milne met the family when they reached Greymouth.
“It was really good to meet Nadine and the rest of the family. Great people and a really deserving family,” says Mr Milne.
“We thank all the tourism operators who have gone out of their way to help put together such an amazing prize package.
“A special thanks also to Westport boy Phoenix Putaura who, along with Daimon Schwalger, produced a brilliant video promoting Westport to the rest of the Country.
“In recognition of Phoenix’s great work as an ambassador for the Coast, he’ll be joining the Toe Toe family during their day in Hokitika.
“If you bump into Nadine and the rest of the family during their travels don’t be shy to say hi and show them some West Coast hospitality.”
Seven Sharp segment on the Toe Toe Family: video
Seven Sharp video of Phoenix and Westport: video