Andy Wright International StorytellerInternational storyteller finds perfect base on the Coast

From his base in Greymouth, international storyteller Andrew Wright reaches the world while enjoying the lifestyle benefits of living on the West Coast.

Under the banner of his company International Storytelling Ltd., Andrew will share his stories throughout this year with tens of thousands of listeners from countries as diverse and widespread as – Spain, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine, China, Italy, Germany, Austria, Malaysia and Singapore.

Andrew and his wife, Liz, relocated from Perth, Australia to Greymouth five years ago. He says the West Coast is the perfect base for his storytelling company.

“I spend much of my performance time in large cities like Madrid, Shanghai or Warsaw, so returning to the beauty and lifestyle of the West Coast is always an uplifting experience.

“With excellent internet connections and an international airport just over the hill, I am able to reach anywhere in the world whilst enjoying all the benefits of a West Coast lifestyle.”

Having spent over 25 years telling stories to audiences in schools, theatres and festivals across the world, Andrew is renowned for his lively style of storytelling that includes personal narratives of his New Zealand childhood. He also performs folktales and horror stories suitable for all ages.

“Many of my stories have grown out of the exceptional experience of growing up in New Zealand with a blind mother.

“Today I tell these stories all around the world and they are a fabulous reminder that no matter what culture we come from or what generation we belong to – the joys and tribulations of childhood are universal.

“All of us can remember the excitement of scoring the winning try, or the embarrassment of wetting our pants. Stories help us to transcend cultural differences and to share our joint humanity.”

Through his company, Andrew takes stories from New Zealand’s wider history and the history of the West Coast out to the world.

“Other countries are fascinated by this rather unique country at the bottom of the world. Our struggles and our triumphs, the difficulties we have faced and an honest appraisal of our history – the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Woven through his stories of New Zealand life and history are folktales drawn from all corners of the planet that Andrew believes reinforce the messages of our past, celebrate our common humanity, and pass on the wisdom of our ancestors.

Andrew’s world of story is a world inhabited by characters both real and imagined.

“From grandfathers with terribly scared legs, to strict catholic nuns, from patupaiarehe to taniwha, with dragons, hippos, tigers, rabbits and the occasional phoenix. These characters leap into the hearts and minds of the listeners.”

Andrew says he couldn't ask for a better place to create stories than from living on the West Coast.

“The West Coast provides an ideal locale for the development of the artistic and the imaginary.

“The icy breath of the ‘Barber’ is like some somnolent beast breathing down the river. The rolling, dancing mist creeping through the bush – harbouring the hidden patupaiarehe. The crashing waves of the ocean and the playful seals that could be selkies.

“All of these images of my daily life on the Coast feed my stories that I tell around the world.”

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Andy Wright


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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)

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.

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)