TranzAlpine Train

Investment and opportunities for the Coast.

COVID-19 has presented a significant economic shock to the West Coast. Unemployment amongst our working age population has risen to 7.7%, up from 6.1% at the start of the year, and there will likely be more job losses once wage subsidies run out. Without doubt it’s a challenging time, but it’s not all doom and gloom on the Coast.

Retail spending on the West Coast has bounced back at a faster rate than the rest of the Country, with spending during June 8.8% higher than it was last year – compared to 0.6% nationally.

The last few weeks have also seen positive news for the region with the resumption of Sounds Air, InterCity and now TranzAlpine services. We also saw NZTA reversing their controversial plan to close the Arthur’s Pass highway to all traffic when it snows.

Connectivity is vital for our region and the recovery. DWC and the West Coast Mayors, Chairs and Iwi have been working together to advocate for the return of these key services.

Other recent good news for the Coast includes the resumption of guided adventures on the Franz Josef Glacier, thanks to a collaboration between Ngāi Tahu Tourism, the Department of Conservation and The Helicopter Line with support from Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio.

These recent achievements are all very important for the Coast and our economy, but they are largely related to protecting what we had. In the post-COVID environment we also need to be looking ahead at new opportunities.

Significant work is going on in the background to ensure our region comes through this stronger than before. DWC is working closely with other key stakeholders on a number of projects through the West Coast Recovery Group, and together with the West Coast Mayors, Chairs and Iwi we are pushing to attract more investment into the region.

We are already seeing significant funding for new projects that will not only create jobs during this difficult time, but provide opportunities going forward.

Recent Government announcements have included: $17.9m for the Pounamu Pathways project, $1.2m for digital hubs (two of which will be administrated by DWC), $2m towards a regional employment scheme (DWC’s Upskill programme), $1.9m for the revitalisation of the Westport Waterfront and $4.4m towards the $15.7m Mt Te Kinga predator free project. These are just a few of the projects within the $147.2m allocated to the West Coast through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and other recent funding streams.

On top of this, last week the Government announced it will be investing a further $90m from its COVID-19 infrastructure fund, and an additional $7m towards our ports.

It’s encouraging seeing these projects get over the line. DWC has contributed to the initial business cases and applications for a number of them. For example, our contribution of $87k towards a feasibility study on upgrading the Westport and Greymouth ports helped leverage an additional $225k in PGF funding towards that study and further work on governance structures for the ports. This has led to over $17m being invested in West Coast ports - a great result for the region. These projects will create jobs and strengthen resilience on the Coast.

With close to $240m of funding allocated, we are seeing significant investment coming into our region and we are advocating for more. DWC along with other regional leaders are looking to create a funding management mechanism that will give Treasury greater confidence to allocate funds to the West Coast.

Notwithstanding the hit we have taken with international tourism, the Coast is in many respects better placed than other regions in New Zealand to see out the COVID challenge.

Despite the widespread turmoil in international markets, New Zealand’s exports of food products are holding up and for some commodities even growing slightly. Primary industries account for 23.4% of the West Coast’s GDP - compared to just 6.4% nationally. The strength of our primary industries - our agricultural sector, gold and other mining and moss industry - will play a significant role in our economic recovery.

The experience of the lockdown has also shown us that you don’t need expensive office space in big cities. The rise of remote working could help distribute New Zealand’s workforce throughout the regions. With affordable housing and a superior lifestyle offering, the Coast is well positioned to take advantage of any increase in domestic migration. West Coast employers are already noticing a rise in job applications from people across the Country.

With all these different opportunities and all the regional projects underway or due to begin, we are expecting more jobs on the way. The Infrastructure projects announced over the last couple of days alone are expected to create 283 jobs for the Coast. 

There is no better place to see out this crisis than here on the West Coast. But we must acknowledge how difficult the current situation is for some businesses. Many will need support to see this through, and as the region’s economic development agency we are here to help.

Heath Milne | DWC Chief Executive

Heath Milne

Upskill West Coast

DWC launchs West Coast Employment Scheme, “Upskill”.

Upskill, a Provincial Growth Fund: Skills and Employment (Te Ara Mahi) funded programme, is a DWC-led initiative focused on supporting people to attain recognised qualifications and creating sustainable employment opportunities to keep both people and businesses on the West Coast.

The programme will implement an employment pathway scheme to match available people to employment opportunities. Supporting sustainable positions which are either new or vacant and are for at least 30 hours per week, it can assist people to gain a recognised qualification to gain employment, or support existing employees to undertake new training or education to move up or transition into a new role.

DWC’s Economic Development Manager, Jo Birnie, says “this is an exciting opportunity to support businesses and the people of the West Coast at such a critical time."

Delivering the project in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) alongside their complementary Mana in Mahi initiative will enable the greatest benefits for both employees and employers.

Upskill Manager, Tania Washer, has been engaged to deliver the programme, and will be coordinating the needs of businesses and individuals with the necessary training providers, while also working closely with MSD and other agencies to ensure the greatest outcomes for all involved.

If you are a business or individual and believe this programme can assist you, or you would like more information, email Tania on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



To register, please click on the below links and complete as much information as possibile.


Candidate registration


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PGF Logo

2020 07 01 PM Training

PRINCE2 Project Management

Development West Coast (DWC) have Partnered with The Knowledge Academy to bring PRINCE2 Project Management training to the Coast.

PRINCE2 is a structured project management method and practitioner certification programme. PRINCE2 emphasises dividing projects into manageable and controllable stages.

The PRINCE2 course combines training and exams for the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certifications into one 5-day course. Passing the course will provide you with the skills and knowledge required to start applying PRINCE2 to real life work projects.

DWC is bringing two PRINCE2 courses to the West Coast:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation - familiarises you with the basics of the PRINCE2 method, and a PRINCE2 Foundation exam.
  • PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner - you will learn how PRINCE2 can be tailored and applied to projects, before sitting the PRINCE2 Practitoner exam.

The courses will be run over August and spaces are limited to 14 per course.

Course Cost:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation: 3 day course - $1091 + GST (per participant)
  • PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner course: 5 day course - $1466 + GST (per participant)

Both course costs are significantly discounted.


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Project management

Development West Coast is bringing governance training to the West Coast business community. The West Coast Governance Programme, facilitated by Richard Westlake and Vaughan Renner of Westlake Governance, will commence in August 2020, and consists of four workshops which will help participants understand the key roles and responsibilities of the board and individual directors.

This 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.

Who should attend?

• For those already on boards or Councils, you will understand the difference between governance and management, and what your governance role really involves: what are your responsibilities, what information do you need, how do you make great decisions, and how do you help your chief executive succeed? For you, this programme may be a valuable refresher, helping you to fill in some gaps; or it may be the first formal training you’ve done for your role.
• For those who are preparing to join a board in the future, you will understand what it means to be a director or board member, what skills and time commitment you'll need, and what attributes you can bring to your new role to add real value in the boardroom.
• For those reporting to and working with boards, you will understand why governance matters, what information board members need, and why it’s ok when they ask difficult questions.

Introduction to Governance, the Board and its Role
Date: Wednesday, 12 August
Time: 9.00am - 4.00pm
Location: Westport

Working with the Chief Executive, and the Board's role in Finance
Date: Thursday, 3 September
Time: 9.00am - 4.00pm
Location: Hokitika

Governing Strategy and Risk
Date: Thursday, 1 October
Time: 9.00am - 4.00pm
Location: Westport

Boardroom Dynamics
Date: Thursday, 5 November
Time: 9.00am - 4.00pm
Location: Greymouth

Cost: $2000 (+ GST) per participant - to see if you are eligible for NZTE business capability funding visit or contact Fiona Hill – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Please note: maximum of 16 participants.


Richard Westlake and Vaughan Renner are experienced chairs and board members and have presented governance workshops together for about ten years. Over several years they co-facilitated the Governance component of the West Coast Leadership & Governance Programme, from which many participants have gone on to significant governance and leadership roles, in the West Coast community and elsewhere.

Richard Westlake:

Richard has more than 25 years’ experience as a director and board chair, in a wide variety of organisations. He is currently chair of New Zealand Home Loans Ltd, and recently completed nine years as the first independent director of the Dairy Goat Co-operative and six years as the only non-Asian director of one of the largest banks in the Philippines. Over the last 15 years, Richard has trained probably more directors than anyone else in New Zealand.

He also writes perhaps the only blog written especially for board chairs and experienced directors, at

Vaughan Renner:

Vaughan trained originally as an Engineer and has been a director and board chair for about 15 years. He is a former chief executive of New Zealand’s largest tyre importer and retailer, and he currently chairs The Open Polytechnic, the board of Business New Zealand and the Standards Approval Board (a unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).


Introduction to Governance, the Board and its Role

• Preview and introduction to the West Coast 2020 Governance Programme
• What governance is (and isn’t)
• The difference between managing and governing, and how to make the shift when you enter the boardroom
• The role and functions of the board
• The role and duties of individual directors
• The effective Board Chair

Working with the Chief Executive, and the Board’s role in Finance

• Re-cap and review of Session 1
• Selecting and appointing the CEO
• Working with the CEO and the Chair/CEO relationship
• Board/CEO/Management Interactions
• The Board’s role in Finance
• Understanding the main Financial Statements
• Budgets / Forecasts
• Distress and insolvency: what to look for, and what to look out for

Governing Strategy and Risk

• Re-cap and review of Session 2
• What is Strategy?
• The process and pitfalls of developing and implementing Strategy
• The Board’s role in Strategy
• Effective Board Papers
• What is Risk?
• What is Risk Governance?
• The Board’s role in Risk

Boardroom Dynamics

• Re-cap and review of Session 3
• Why it’s important to achieve balanced membership on a board
• How to prepare for and bring the greatest value to board meetings
• Understanding the value of dissent and debate in reaching quality consensus decisions
• Where to from here? Preparing your governance CV, and improving your chances for a board position
• A simulated board meeting, with board roles played by some of the participants, and feedback provided by their colleagues. (This exercise presents a real-world feel for the participants to apply what they have learned during the programme, and it has always proved to be a memorable highlight on which to conclude.)

Westlake Governance

Good-bye job for life! Hello new opportunity!


Most of us don’t think of our jobs as a job for life – at least not anymore! In fact, British researchers say that a typical person will expect to have nine jobs, including one major career change, across 48 years of working life. That’s twice as many jobs as our grandparents and suggests that the concept of a job for life is now a goner!

We all know jobs are changing. We hear a lot about 21st century tech sector roles taking over but there are also new ‘old’ jobs that have become sought after - think distilling, craft brewing, barbering, furniture-making, upholstery and ceramics. Passions that have become jobs.

Of course we don’t always choose to change jobs. It may well be out of our control especially in times such as these, when COVID-19 is changing the working lives of so many of us in so many ways.

Who would have thought that nearly every organisation in the country could build the capability for their employees to work remotely from home in less than a week – and it’s now inevitable that some people will never return to shared workplaces. Employees will embrace working at home for a better lifestyle and employers may embrace it for better productivity and a cut in workspace costs. Nano-qualifications achieved online without ever going into a classroom nor meeting another student, and ‘zoom’ learning from home will likely become staples for re-skilling workers of all ages and capabilities. Despite it all we are, arguably, more in charge of our own working lives than ever!

But these challenging times make so many of us think about the security of our future especially when our job is under threat or even may no longer exist. And there lies the opportunity!

We could ask ourselves if a job loss is actually an opportunity to do something else, perhaps something that could increase our income, advance our career or help us achieve better work-life balance, and actually make us happier. Could a simple-to-access, online course help us add to our existing skills and prepare us for a career change whatever our age or capability? And importantly for many of us, could it keep us working and living here on the Coast that we love?

Proudly, the Coast has built up a workforce with specific skills which we want to keep in the region that we love to live, work and play in. All of you skilled workers are vital to ensure our region thrives in the future.

Given the chance, some of us might stay in the job we enjoy for our entire career but what is very real now is the fear of not having that choice and being forced out into a labour market we don’t know how to navigate.

But there are options. At this time more than ever, the West Coast needs to keep its skilled workers and there are West Coast organisations that need you!

We have skill shortages and employers who are finding it hard to get staff with the right skills for the jobs. Knowing which jobs are in skill shortage can help you choose the best job option. A great deal of work is going on behind the scenes to match new jobs with skilled workers who may be looking for a new opportunity.

At the same time, substantial Government funding is coming online in all sorts of sectors and at all skill levels. There have never been so many ways to be employed. It could mean working from home or in the great outdoors. It could even be your dream job!

Development West Coast has many connections to businesses that need the right skilled people so let them know your existing skills and what sort of job-change you are looking for.

What I know for sure is that the West Coast values its skilled workers and now is the time for them to shine more than ever!


Renee Rooney | DWC chair


Renee Rooney