Regional collaboration for PGF applications

Elected members from the four Councils and Iwi, and the boards of Development West Coast and Tourism West Coast, met on Wednesday to discuss economic development, and how best to leverage opportunities for the region through the Provincial Growth Fund.

The workshop was supported by representatives from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Department of Conservation and Ministry of Primary Industries.

A vision for the future was tested amongst workshop participants. The vision, and underlying strategy, will assist with identifying, and prioritising, initiatives that can contribute to creating a thriving and prosperous region.

The feedback from Wednesday will now be collated by the Development West Coast Economic Development Unit into a series of packages, with the first tranche to be submitted to the Provincial Growth Fund in August.

The future of stewardship land was also robustly discussed. Identified as a significant issue for the region, West Coast attendees voted to seek the review of stewardship land as per the original government process outlined in 1987.

The West Coast Mayors and Chairs will be meeting with Minister Shane Jones, and potentially Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters, next week to discuss this issue further, as well as highlighting the collaboration that is underway across the region in economic development.

The West Coast Mayors and Chairs would like to acknowledge the input to the workshop from all 38 attendees.

“A gathering of this nature has not occurred for many years, and the value of such an event to work together to drive the future of the West Coast forward cannot be underestimated,” they said.

(14 June 2018)

From the Desk of Helen Wilson, Research and Innovation Manager

Last week I attended the Hokitika launch of the GNS Science Geothermal Research project. This project aims to bring together what is known about the geothermal conditions in the Southern Alps and to scope the potential for using the geothermal resource.

The study aims to identify potential users of geothermal heat, possible locations, demand estimates, supply longevity and the indicative payback periods businesses would be looking for. Users could be existing businesses who currently use other fuels to produce the heat they require, or new enterprises that are yet to be established.

Over the last six months GNS Business Development Manager, Dave Jennings, has travelled throughout our region and held conversations with a long list of ‘stakeholders’ and potential ‘partners’, and has worked hard to build ‘relationships’. Dialogue with West Coast businesses, councillors, economic development practitioners, iwi and funders, all of whom are interested in gaining a better understanding and keeping abreast of the project, is accepted as a key part of the research process.

Over the last decade working in the world of DWC I have often been vexed by the clichéd use of the word ‘partnering’, and occasionally found the term ‘collaborating with stakeholders’ to be even more of a (sometimes annoying) enigma. But gradually I have come to realise that they do describe critical elements of achieving results.

The shelf behind my desk has quite a few research reports carried out in splendid isolation and now gathering dust. We paid for them, had the research done and published them. In hindsight they were not as useful as they could have been. Why? Largely because the end-users were not part of the process and consequently had very little reason to trust the results.

Collaboration, engagement, buy-in, having skin in the game - whatever you want to call it - is important. It keeps us interested, we (the group of partners, investors and stakeholders) are more likely to take notice of the results, to trust them and to make best use of them.

Fundamental to successful development is the conversations between people and their ability to agree to explore, learn and work together. All development hinges on a willingness of individuals to change what they think and to change behaviour. As the Maori proverb says, “He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. It is people, it is people, it is people.”

After the launch, the scientists and I drove south to Harihari. It was a beautiful Coast day and Mt Adams had a new sprinkling of snow. I introduced them to one of the locals and we enjoyed her stories of long ago, searching for the hot water and losing a digger in a deep hole in a paddock – something that is not foreign to GNS Science, I hear. The visitors learned at least one valuable new lesson - next time they will bring industrial strength sandfly repellent, but, more importantly, relationships were built.

It is always great to see an innovative West Coast business being recognised on the national stage, and Vertigo Technologies did just that at the EMEX Tech Show earlier this month.

EMEX is the largest manufacturing tech show in New Zealand with over 150 exhibitors. Vertigo Technologies was selected along with 12 other companies to be part of the event’s Innovation Lab sponsored by Callaghan Innovation and Locus Research. Vertigo took out the top innovation prize, winning $7,500 of professional development services from Callaghan Innovation.

“This will allow us to start work on our Intellectual Property Strategy,” says Brett Cottle from Vertigo Technologies.

Vertigo is a Westport based start-up that makes desktop computer numerical control (CNC) machines. They cater to the growing market of hobbyists and small businesses who are wanting to automate their processes. Schools and tertiary providers have also been purchasing the Vertigo CNCs.

“Starting up on the West Coast has been a real positive for Vertigo Technologies. Westport and the West Coast have been super supportive. Our customers love our story that we design and make our machines in Westport,” Brett says.

“The support we have had from Development West Coast, NZTE and Callaghan Innovation has been excellent, and we feel it is because the people working in those roles here on the Coast have the ability to really get to know our business.”

Vertigo technologies

The untamed West Coast landscape has a strong pull for creative people, as a result we are blessed with a wealth of world-class videographers. Daimon Schwalger of Nomad Audio & Video recently held a promotional video competition for local businesses, which was won by Rongo Dinner Bed & Breakfast in Karamea.

“It was a tough decision choosing the winner as there were so many great entries. A massive thanks to DWC, Coast FM and West Coast Rewards for making this possible,” says Daimon.

“It’s been so amazing moving to the West Coast. I’m constantly blown away with the amount of talented people that live here and how much positive energy we are surrounded by. It was an absolute pleasure working with an innovative entrepreneur like Paul from Rongo.”

Link to view the video

Promotional video competition

May 2018 

“It takes a whole village to raise a child” – we hear this a lot from those in the education sector. This belief also rings true in achieving positive outcomes and success through working collaboratively and in partnerships.
I also believe “it takes the whole West Coast to raise the region”, and celebrating success is a good place to start.

Think about some of our local sporting heroes who do us and our Region so proud. There are many who make the headlines and, rightly so, we celebrate their individual or team success. Through their achievements they are waving the West Coast flag, and we all know there is something special about coming from the West Coast.

A provenance story is powerful. Our region is rich with food products made in our untamed natural wilderness environment -- butter, milk and yoghurt powders, aubergines, honey, salami, bacon and smallgoods, cookies, ales and spirits to name a few.

People and food are just two parts of our West Coast provenance story. There are many other chapters made up of our industries, and our provenance story puts our region on the map nationally, and in some cases internationally.

So, what more can we do to raise our region - to keep moving forward, untap our potential and build on our successes to raise our economic profile and to make sure the West Coast is the best place to live, work and enjoy life?

Working collaboratively is a good place to start, to figure out our destination, how we’re going to get there, and agreeing on the steps along the way. Working together as a team, not battling each other, is the key to achieving great results.

Members of our community want improvement for our region, and there is a strong view from central government that they want the same. This has been signalled through the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) that our region can tap in to. What makes this more exciting is that the West Coast has been identified as a “surge” region, meaning the West Coast is eligible for early Investment for qualifying projects.

The Provincial Growth Fund is possibly a once in a generation opportunity. This is our time as a region to aim high in order to benefit through co-investment and partnerships with central government, private enterprise and other organisations. West Coast community and business leaders are currently working together to identify, prioritise and develop proposals to put forward for consideration.

As a region, we must stand together, hold up and celebrate our successes, raise the bar to achieve greater success and challenge ourselves to identify new opportunities for success. There has never been a greater need or a better time for us to step outside the box, take a look and put our hand up.

Renee Rooney
Chair - Development West Coast