Development West Coast Announces Appointment of New CEO

The Chairman of Development West Coast John Sturgeon announced today that Joseph Thomas has been appointed to the role of CEO commencing 10 March 2014.

Joseph Thomas is currently the Christchurch based CEO of New Zealand Institute of Management Southern Incorporated. Previous roles have included working as a Business Consultant for Polson Higgs, CEO of the Chatham Island Enterprise Trust and, prior to tertiary studies, Skipper of a cray fishing vessel based in the Chatham Islands.

Joseph holds a Bachelor of Management Studies from Waikato University, is a Chartered Accountant, an Associate Fellow of The New Zealand Institute of Management, and holds several governance roles including his recent Ministerial appointment as a member of the West Coast District Health Board.

"I am confident that Joseph has the skills, energy and experience we need to ensure that the Trust continues its positive momentum. He has the ability to think strategically along with strong practical knowledge and understanding of how to harness new and existing economic development opportunities in order to generate sustainable economic benefits for the West Coast," says John Sturgeon, Chair, Development West Coast.

Joseph will be moving to the West Coast, along with his wife Shelley when he commences work in March 2014, and he is looking forward to being part of the West Coast community.

(01 December 2013)



Leadership Graduates Already Making Their Mark in Boardroom

The West Coast's pool of people with leadership and governance experience has had another boost with the graduation of a second wave of business leaders from the West Coast Leadership and Governance Programme.

DWC launched the programme in partnership with Westland Milk Products in 2011 after recognising the need to develop the West Coast's next generation of leaders. Participants are sponsored by local businesses and take part in an intensive 14-month programme learning and studying good governance and leadership.

DWC's Chief Operating Officer Warren Gilbertson says 13 business people graduated from the second intake of the programme last night.

"As the second group to pass through this programme we now have a group of around 25 people ready to build up the layers of leadership and governance experience in our communities. These people are already becoming entrenched in our community organisations and businesses," he says.

Of the 13 new graduates six have already taken up positions on boards of various West Coast businesses and community groups. Stephen Lowe was the General Manager of WestReef when he began the programme but has since been promoted to CEO of Buller Holdings, WestReef's parent company.

"It is a great programme which gives participants confidence that when they get on those boards they are able to contribute because they know what is expected of them. The tutors are experienced business people who came in and talked us through real life examples of issues that they were dealing with which was invaluable," he says.

"It is really positive that DWC and West Coast businesses continue to support it and make it happen. One of the best aspects is the networking opportunities it gives you to interact with a lot of like-minded Coasters. As a group we would like to continue working together to help the community in economic development type roles".

Companies taking part in this second intake of the programme were Westland Milk Products, DOC, Hokitika Automotive, Buller Electricity, FT Dooley Ltd, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Grey District Council, Buller Holdings, Martin & Co Mitre 10 Westport and CMP Kokiri.

Mr Gilbertson says a third West Coast Leadership and Governance Programme will begin in 2014 and already there is strong interest from local businesses to participate. Businesses who are interested in this programme should contact Nelia Heersink at DWC.

(29 November 2013)



New Mines Rescue Training Centre Opens

A new training centre for the Mines Rescue Trust funded by Development West Coast (DWC) has today been opened at Rapahoe, near Greymouth.

In the wake of the 2010 Pike River Mine tragedy DWC donated $1 million to a Pike River Distribution Fund. Fund administrators allocated the money to the Mines Rescue Trust to establish this multi-purpose training facility.

The new facility will be known as the Development West Coast Mines Rescue Training Centre and was officially opened at 4pm by DWC Chair John Sturgeon and Mines Rescue Trust Chair Dave Stewart. Cobden-Runanga Anglican Vicar Tim Mora blessed the building.

Mr Sturgeon says it will be a world-class facility for both the Mines Rescue Trust and the West Coast community.

"The West Coast has a long history of mining accidents and this will be a fitting tribute to the many men who have lost their lives working in mines. We anticipate it being widely used by the mining industry and the facility will also be available to other West Coast industry and community groups," he says.

The 350sqm building includes three seminar rooms and office space as well as an underground training tunnel that allows for real life simulated training in limited visibility environments.

It will enable Mines Rescue to continue to provide high quality training in both underground and surface extraction as well as training for other industries that work in confined spaces, with breathing apparatus, and in gas awareness and detection.

New Zealand Mines Rescue Service General Manager Trevor Watts says the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River Mine Tragedy made recommendations for broad changes to mining regulations including training.

"As a result of the recommendations there will be a period of more intensive training required for those in the industry, from mine workers to managers and mining officials so the opening of the new facility is very timely. We have also had interest from other industry groups about using the centre and encourage them and other community groups to use the facility," says Mr Watts.

Greymouth company John Griffin Builders constructed the DWC Mines Rescue Training Centre.

(3 November 2013)



Winners of 2013 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards announced

Greymouth Engineering company E-Quip Engineering has been named the supreme winner at the 2013 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards.
E-Quip Engineering won both the Crombie Lockwood Leading Light Trades/Manufacturing/Primary Producer Award and the Greymouth Star Leading Light Super Nova Award.
The winners were announced at a black tie gala event at Shantytown on Friday 11 October. Development West Coast Chair John Sturgeon says he congratulates Equip Engineering and all the category winners who are:

Duncan Cotterill – Leading Light Enterprise Award
WestReef Services Ltd, Westport

PWC – Leading Light Retail Award
Greymouth Showcase Jewellers, Greymouth

NZIM, Southern – Leading Light Service Award
Riley Build, Hokitika

Crombie Lockwood – Leading Light Trades/Manufacturing/Primary Producer Award

E-Quip Engineering Ltd, Greymouth

Tourism West Coast – Leading Light Tourism Award

West Coast Wildlife Centre, Franz Josef Glacier

Westland Milk Products – Leading Light Community/Charitable Organisation Award
West Coast Riding for the Disabled, Hokitika

ACC – Leading Light Workplace Health and Safety Award
MBC Contracting Ltd, Westport

Hairy Lemon and The I.T. Team - Leading Light Innovation Award
MBC Contracting Ltd, Westport

Radio Network - Leading Light Rising Star Award
West Coast Wildlife Centre, Franz Josef Glacier

Greymouth Star Leading Light Super Nova Award
E-Quip Engineering Ltd, Greymouth

This is the second year E-Quip Engineering has had success at the awards with the company winning the Construction / Engineering / Manufacturing award in 2012. The judges said the company demonstrated it had the ability to move with the market and that it understood its niche markets which was proved by the growth and diversity of the business.

"E-Quip Engineering have carried on last year's great work and been rewarded by winning the Super Nova award. The company employs Coasters and does business with the rest of the world, it is a great example of how West Coast businesses need to spread their wings to survive," says DWC Chair John Sturgeon.

This year two new awards were introduced to celebrate innovation and new business on the West Coast. DWC CEO John Chang says the winners of these new awards should be proud of their achievements.

"Innovation is fundamental to the West Coast economy and there was plenty of evidence in the entries of innovation at every level and in different industries. The new Rising Star award recognises the smaller players and the winner of this category has the opportunity to go on to be a significant contributor to the West Coast business community," says Dr Chang.

Mr Sturgeon says the 2013 awards were a wonderful celebration of business on the West Coast and would not happen without the support of sponsors. On behalf of DWC's Trustees he acknowledged the hard work put in by DWC staff, in particular Event Manager Karen Mercer and colleague Helen Wilson, to ensure the night was a success.

"All credit to them that this has been such a successful event for three years now. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the sponsors and to thank Shantytown staff for ensuring everyone had a wonderful night," he says.

(12 October 2013)


Business Awards Finalists Announced

Sixteen businesses, from Westport to South Westland, have today been named as finalists in the 2013 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards.

DWC CEO John Chang says he would like to congratulate all the finalists as it is a wonderful achievement to make the top three in each award category.

"It is really encouraging to see so many businesses from different fields participating, the West Coast business community has really embraced the awards which is wonderful," he says.

This year all the finalists will also be considered for two new awards, the Hairy Lemon and The IT Team Leading Light Innovation Award and the Radio Network Leading Light Rising Star Award. The culmination of the awards night at Shantytown will be the announcement of the overall Grey Star Leading Light Super Nova Award.

"These new awards are very exciting as they highlight the excellent skill-set that exists on the West Coast. The business awards are a vehicle to demonstrate and highlight our innovation to the outside world and also an opportunity for the business community to celebrate success together," says Dr Chang.

A team of independent judges, from a wide range of backgrounds and including some of the Gold Sponsors, spent three weeks assessing award entries. Each judge disclosed any conflicts of interest that they had and worked independently of other judges and their individual decisions were collated to determine the finalists.

Event Manager Karen Mercer says she is delighted with the calibre of both the entries and the judges.

"We received entries from the length and breadth of the West Coast and were very pleased to see that every category had good numbers competing with

many entering the Leading Light Business Excellence Awards for the second time," she says.

"All finalists were excited to learn that their business had been selected. They are looking forward to the gala event and sharing the celebrations with all finalists and the business community."

Dr Chang says he would like to thank all the sponsors for their support of the awards and commitment to the West Coast region. The platinum sponsor is the Greymouth Star. Gold sponsors are Westland Milk Products, ACC, Duncan Cotterill, NZ Institute of Management (Southern), Tourism West Coast, PWC, Crombie Lockwood, The Radio Network and Hairy Lemon and The IT Team. Silver sponsors are Buddle Findlay, ANZ, Monteiths, New World Greymouth and BDO. CMP Kokiri, The Heartland Hotel and Fox Glacier Guides have provided in kind sponsorship.

Judges will now spend another three weeks determining the winners of each of the seven categories plus the three additional awards. Winners will be announced at the West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards gala event at Shantytown on Friday 11 October 2013.

The finalists in the 2013 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence
Awards are:

Duncan Cotterill – Leading Light Enterprise Award
• MBC Contracting Ltd
• WestReef Services Ltd
• DOC – Franz Josef Waiau & South Westland Weheka areas

PWC – Leading Light Retail Award
• Greymouth Showcase Jewellers
• Styliz Hair Salon
• Lake Brunner Service Centre Limited

NZIM, Southern – Leading Light Service Award
• Pure Beauty and Massage
• Hahana Day Spa
• Riley Build

Crombie Lockwood – Leading Light Trades/Manufacturing/Primary
Producer Award
• CYB Construction Limited
• E-Quip Engineering Ltd
• Riley Build

Tourism West Coast – Leading Light Tourism Award
• West Coast Wildlife Centre
• Shantytown Heritage Park
• Hahana Day Spa

Westland Milk Products – Leading Light Community/Charitable
Organisation Award

• The Buller Gorge Marathon Trust
• Westport Kindergarten Association
• West Coast Riding for the Disabled

ACC – Leading Light Workplace Health and Safety Award
• MBC Contracting Ltd
• WestReef Services Ltd
• Westport Kindergarten Association

(5 September 2013)


DWC CEO Resigns

Development West Coast's CEO John Chang has announced he is to resign from his role with the Trust. Dr Chang will step down as CEO at the end of November however he has agreed to a request by the DWC board to assist with the transition to new management until 31 March 2014.

DWC Chairman John Sturgeon says Dr Chang told the board of his decision yesterday and it has received his resignation with sadness.

"The role of CEO is going to be a difficult one to fill because of the skills John Chang has brought to DWC. He has given the Trust excellent direction and will be leaving DWC in a good financial position. Personally, I have enjoyed working with him and believe we worked very well as a team as our skills were very complementary," says Mr Sturgeon.

Dr Chang says he has decided to leave DWC to be closer to family in Auckland as he has spent the last five years commuting to the West Coast.

"I began my role at a time when DWC was going through interesting times and I have worked extremely hard with the team to build DWC's credibility, performance and public confidence. I did not want to leave with the job half done but now believe that with the help of the Trustees, staff and community I have achieved my goals for DWC," says Dr Chang.

"I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to experience life on the West Coast. During my time with DWC I have met some wonderful people and thank the board for their guidance. In particular I would like to acknowledge the mentoring I have received from Chair John Sturgeon with whom I have had a close working relationship".

Dr Chang joined DWC in January 2009 with a strong executive management background. He previously led Canterprise Ltd, the University of Canterbury's commercialisation company, from 2004-08 before establishing Jardoo Investments in early 2008.

DWC will now begin the process of recruiting a new CEO.

(3 September 2013)


DWC Sponsors West Coast Amateur Sports Trust

Development West Coast is pleased to announce it is the new sponsor of the West Coast Amateur Sports Trust. Formally known as the Solid Energy Amateur Sports Trust, it will now be called the Development West Coast Amateur Sports Trust.

DWC CEO John Chang says with the exit of Solid Energy as a sponsor the Trust was struggling to find a funder and DWC was happy to support the organisation.

"Given DWC was already supporting the Trust through our community funding we were pleased to step in to ensure it can continue its excellent work. Organisations like this are needed for the well-being of a healthy community and we are proud to be involved in ensuring young West Coast sports people have the same opportunities as their counterparts in larger centres," says Dr Chang.

DWC already funds the Sports Trust $10,000 annually for the Sports Trust to distribute to recipients. This new agreement sees DWC providing a separate $5,000 sponsorship and gaining naming rights to the organisation in return.

DWC Amateur Sports Trust Chair Chips Robinson says the Trust is thrilled DWC has stepped in to help them.

"It's pretty hard out there to get sponsorship so we are really pleased DWC has helped us out. This will benefit promising athletes from Karamea to Haast," he says.

The DWC Amateur Sports Trust helps young West Coast athletes achieve in their chosen sport.

"We look at their aspirations and what they can achieve. We have some really good youngsters out there and they put the West Coast on the map and make us proud," says Mr Robinson.

The Trust has helped athletes like Greymouth bowler Ethan Kelleher who has used the funding to attend training camps and then gone on to be selected for the New Zealand U18 side which beat Australia in a test series. Hokitika javelin thrower Holly Robinson was helped to travel to London to represent New Zealand in the Paralympic games and in July she won a silver medal in the F46 class Javelin at the International Paralympic Athletics World Championships in France with a personal best throw of 34.37 metres. Young Hokitika swimmer George Schroder is another Coast athlete the Trust has helped and who is showing excellent promise.

(2 September 2013)


"Solid" Year for DWC Results in Net Asset Growth

Development West Coast's annual report for the year ended 31 March 2013 shows the Trust has had a positive financial year with total assets of $122m, up from $118m the year before.

DWC Chairman John Sturgeon and CEO John Chang released the annual report at a public meeting in Hokitika this evening. DWC posted a total income of $11m (including unrealised gains) and taking into account expenses and community distributions made a net profit for the year of $5.4m.

Mr Sturgeon says it has been a year marked with steady progress but DWC's measure of success should not be limited to its positive balance sheet.

"I believe DWC has done well to consolidate its financial position but DWC's staff have also been working quietly behind the scenes with a number of West Coast businesses that have been struggling in this difficult economic climate, and Trustees are pleased that many core business services have successfully been managed by the staff over the past year," he says.

In recognition of its contribution to assisting businesses on the West Coast, DWC was the proud winner of the 2012 AUT Excellence in Business Support Awards (Not for Profit), a nationwide business awards event hosted by the Auckland University of Technology, Business Faculty.

"It's great for the staff that their hard work has being recognised in such a prestigious way," says Mr Sturgeon.

DWC CEO John Chang says it is pleasing to see DWC's assets continue to grow. Since 2001 the Trust has generated $108m in income and committed $50m cash into our local communities.

"Through prudent financial management and with the assistance of our investment advisors, DWC's current balance sheet is strong and well placed to further assist our businesses in the 2014 financial year. Preserving existing jobs was our priority during the year. DWC has the ability to strategically apply the Investment Fund to further explore new and exciting technologies and processes that could offer critical commercial advantages to the West Coast businesses," says Dr Chang.

Priorities for the 2014 financial year include working closely with West Coast businesses, local and central government agencies, expanding the "DWC Business Toolbox" and investigating opportunities to attract external investment and new businesses to the Coast with the ultimate outcome being the promotion of new jobs.

(27 August 2013)


Building Company Wins for Early Bird Awards Entry

Entries are already arriving for the 2013 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards with Hokitika building company Riley Build winning an early entry prize package draw.

A week before entries close nominations have already been received for the Hairy Lemon & the IT Team Innovation Award. This new award recognises an innovation that has made a significant difference to a business' productivity, modus operandi, profitability or performance.

Businesses can nominate themselves or another business for the innovation award and Development West Coast CEO John Chang says it is encouraging to see nominations coming in already.

"Early indications are that the level of innovation that exists on the Coast is really high and that is genuinely quite exciting. We need to promote that a high degree of creativity and innovation exists here on the West Coast and we have to market it to the rest of New Zealand and the world," says Dr Chang.

As the winners of the early bird draw, Riley Build has won a special Breakaway Package including two nights' accommodation for two at the Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier and a guided glacier walk from Fox Glacier Guides. We acknowledge the generous contribution by the sponsors for these two wonderful prizes.

Riley Build's Kate Riley says it was great to win the draw and the company is now looking forward to learning whether it will make the award finals.

"The awards have already provided an opportunity to review the Riley Build operating systems and focus on our team's strengths while acknowledging our weaknesses. It would be brilliant to reach the finals, not just for our team but all our subcontractors and suppliers who work with us to maintain a high level of service," she says.

Businesses can still enter the awards until 5pm Friday 26 July. Once entries are received a panel of nine high profile South Island business people will undertake initial judging with finalists announced on 30 August 2013.

DWC's Helen Wilson says it is brilliant to see entries coming in early.

"What a great effort we are seeing from West Coast businesses already, especially in nominating businesses for the new innovation award. We will now be contacting those businesses to make sure they are happy to be nominated and to ensure they get an entry form to us," she says.

For more information on the awards and entry forms go to

(22 July 2013)


West Coast Primary Schools Technology Savvy

West Coast primary schools are now some of the most technology savvy in the country after a nearly $500,000 investment in new computer equipment.

As part of the third year of Development West Coast's Computers in Schools programme ten primary schools have recently received $138,000 worth of new ICT equipment.

In the last three years 31 schools have spent $461,000 (incl gst) on new classroom technology including 265 new computers, 135 tablets, upgraded wireless networks, digital cameras, interactive whiteboards and data projectors. DWC provided $345,000 of the funding and the schools provided the rest as well as committing to ongoing technology plans.

DWC Chair John Sturgeon says DWC is proud to have been involved in the Computers in Schools programme.

"It is great that West Coast kids are now in a position where they are ahead of the game when it comes to technology. Our kids deserve the same opportunities those in other regions get," he says.

It is expected that by June 2014 most West Coast schools will have the ability to be connected to ultrafast broadband. ICT facilitator Eric Martini says as a result of DWC's programme West Coast primary schools are now in a position to use ultrafast broadband to the fullest.

"All of the West Coast primary schools now have up-to-date technology and as a region we must be one of the most connected and up to date in the country," he says.

The Computers in Schools project came about after an audit found 74% of West Coast schools had computers that were four to six years old, compared to the national average of three years. Eric Martini, the ICT Management Committee and West Coast Primary Principals came to DWC with a proposal to upgrade ICT equipment throughout West Coast schools.

DWC trustee Frank Dooley visited Westport North School today to view the children using their new iPads.

"DWC believes education is at the heart of economic development. This project is making a difference to young people's learning which is a fantastic result," says Mr Dooley.

Deputy Principal of Westport North School, Cath O'Loughlin, says the school has been able to purchase an iPad for every teacher meaning each class, from Year 0 to Year 7, now have two at their disposal.

"The children are using the iPads for maths and literacy as there are lots of games which practice the skills and strategies they need. They don't even realise they are learning," she says.

"Teachers have been given days for professional development around e-blended learning and even though it is unchartered territory they are enjoying using the new technology, especially as the iPads are so easy to use".

An independent review of the first year of the Computers in Schools project has found students are more engaged in learning and have increased motivation and engagement since the introduction of new technology.

(15 May 2013)


More Chances to Shine at 2013 Business Awards

The 2013 West Coast Leading Light Business Excellence Awards will include more award categories and a streamlined entry process, making it easier for small and medium sized businesses to enter and win.

A new innovation award will also give the local business community an opportunity to nominate a business or individuals they believe have made a significant difference to the West Coast business scene.

DWC CEO John Chang says the changes have come about as a result of feedback from a survey DWC ran after last year's awards.

"There was a perception that it was unfair that smaller businesses were competing with large organisations so we now have separate categories for small and large businesses. We didn't want smaller businesses to give up before they even start the entry process," he says.

"Overall the feedback is that the business community is strongly supportive of the awards and really enjoy the gala evening at Shantytown. This is shown by the excellent level of corporate sponsorship the event attracts," says Dr Chang.

The changes will mean small and medium sized businesses will have separate categories and businesses with more than 30 employees will be eligible to enter a new enterprise award. There will also be a new rising star award and all businesses will be eligible to enter the health and safety category.

Dr Chang says he is very excited about the new Leading Light Innovation Award. "We are looking to reward an individual, group or business that has done something out of the ordinary which has made a big impact on a business. Entrants can be nominated by their colleagues, managers or governance board so please get your nominations to us," he says.
Event Manager Karen Mercer says this year the awards entry process has been streamlined.

"We want to encourage as many businesses as possible to enter. As well as making the entry forms simpler, DWC staff will be available to offer advice about your entry and we'll run seminars in each region during May or June to offer advice to businesses considering entering," she says.

Businesses that make the finals get excellent publicity and a free video on their business while winners enjoy additional marketing spin-offs. Victoria Boyes from Greymouth New World won the 2012 PWC Retail Award and says she would encourage every business to enter.

"The most overwhelming thing for us was how proud and thrilled the community was that we had won. The journey of entering and analysing your business is an asset in itself and an exercise everyone should do," she says.

Entry forms will be available on with entries opening on 4 June and closing on 26 July 2013. As an extra incentive all entries that are received by 10 July will go in the draw to win a fabulous travel prize. The gala dinner to announce the winners will be held at Shantytown on 11 October 2013.

(29 April 2013)


DWC Training Centre Set to Open Mid-Year

Construction of the new Development West Coast Training Centre being built for the Mines Rescue Trust is well underway with the facility on target to open mid-2013.

Work on the purpose built training facility at Rapahoe began in January and New Zealand Mines Rescue Service General Manager Trevor Watts says there has been excellent progress.

"This is an exciting project for both the mining community and the West Coast and is a facility that will be here for years to come. Construction started in mid-January and with the good weather the builders already have the framing up and trusses on so we are on target to open in June or July," he says.

The DWC Training Centre is being financed by DWC through the Pike River Distribution Fund. DWC donated $1 million to the fund in the wake of the 2010 tragedy in which 29 men lost their lives. Fund administers allocated the money to the Mines Rescue Trust to establish a multi-purpose training facility.

DWC Trustee and Pike River Distribution Fund chairman, Mark Lockington, says the Trust saw it as an ideal project to assist both the mining industry and local economy.

"This training centre will be a valuable asset on the Coast now and in the future. While Mines Rescue will run it we would encourage other Coast businesses to make the most of the facility," he says.

The 350sqm building includes three seminar rooms and office space as well as an underground training tunnel that allows for real life simulated training in limited visibility environments.

It will enable Mines Rescue to continue to provide high quality training in both underground and surface extraction as well as training for other industries that work in confined spaces, with breathing apparatus and in gas awareness and detection.

Despite recent high profile mine closures on the West Coast Trevor Watts says the industry is very positive about the new facility.

"There are still a lot of working mines on the Coast and as well as our core work for the mining industry we also provide external training for industries like drilling, dairying, construction, engineering and civil works. The industry is keen to be able to use the facility and it puts us in a strong position to meet their demands when mining does bounce back," he says.

Construction of the DWC training facility is being undertaken by Greymouth company John Griffin Builders. They expect to complete the build by the end of May.

(25 March 2013)