Reefton

Pioneers.

The West Coast has always attracted pioneering people – from Māori trading pounamu to those who flocked here during the goldrush days.

Back in 1867 Wellington's postmaster got a promotion. Where did this step up in his career take him? To the West Coast of course - the Charleston Post office. The Coast has always been the place to be, and Coasters have always been trailblazers.

In 1888 Reefton was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to get electricity, even before London and New York. In 1934 New Zealand’s first scheduled air service began from Hokitika.

Gold mining may have shifted to blockchain mining, but the pioneering spirit remains. People are still moving to the Coast for the opportunities this amazing region offers.

Picking up and starting afresh in a new town may feel like a scary prospect. Especially if that means selling your home and moving to another part of the country, without the comfort of your current networks.

But it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge.

The work-life balance the West Coast offers comes with the added bonus of support from an organisation specifically set up to promote employment and economic benefits in the region.

Development West Coast (DWC) was established in 2001 with the mandate to manage, invest and distribute income from a $92m fund allocated by the Government. This fund was an adjustment package for the loss of indigenous forestry and the privatisation of infrastructure on the West Coast in the late 1990s.

DWC works hard for the community, promoting sustainable employment opportunities and generating economic benefits for the entire region.

A move to the West Coast from a city as large as Auckland would present many opportunities – first and foremost for Auckland home owners, the difference in purchasing power for a home on the Coast would be a significant financial advantage.

So with cash in hand and a business dream to pursue, tapping into the support of DWC in setting up and getting that new business off the ground is a no-brainer. The DWC team offers a wide range of business services, commercial finance and other assistance to help businesses grow.

Broadway Tearooms & Bakery

Since 2001 many West Coast businesses have accessed assistance from DWC. This includes Paul Thomas, joint owner of the Broadway Tearooms & Bakery, who has utilised a range of DWC services.

Paul is one of the many passionate people involved in the revitalisation of the small West Coast town of Reefton. Over the years community groups have worked hard to bring back the distinctive character of the town’s heritage shop buildings, many of which reflected their goldfields character from the 1870s but had been modified over time to compromise their appearance.

Born from this vision was the Reefton ‘Shop Front’ project, where DWC provided a commercial loan to a community-led group, who were then able to on lend to shop owners at very reasonable rates, enabling business owners to renovate their shop fronts in a heritage style.

According to Paul, the idea of the Reefton Shop Front project was to emphasise Reefton’s distinctiveness; make it stand out from other towns, to engender pride from locals, to create a destination for visitors and to develop the town economically.

“The investment by DWC into Reefton through the shop front project was an innovative model, a leap of faith at the time for community-led economic development, a leap of faith at the time for the investment made, but it has created immeasurable results that have ensured the town’s long-term sustainability,” Paul says.

“Local people now have great pride in their place. Visitors stream in, people desire to come and live here, and people are upbeat about the town’s economy.”

And that is exactly what DWC’s support is for – assisting our present-day pioneers and ensuring the West Coast’s economy thrives. So if you have always wanted to leave the daily grind behind, why not consider the West Coast. With its lifestyle options, and business development support and digital accessibility, this exciting, growing region has something for everyone.

Broadway Tearooms and Bakery

 

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