Lomah Felt

Lomah Felt

Up and down the West Coast, in offices and warehouses, home offices and kitchen tables, small businesses are flourishing. Development West Coast runs a nine-week programme called Co.Starters to equip aspiring entrepreneurs so they can turn ideas into action. Many of the businesses do not have a traditional store front, so in this series of Open for Business, the Greymouth Star and Development West Coast sample some of the emerging small enterprises that are helping shape the future.

Co.Starters graduate Jan Fraser has turned her passion into a business. Through her business Lomah Felt, she turns raw wool and silk into high-end felted woollen garments, boots and accessories.

“I grew up on a farm in the King Country, so I guess that is where my appreciation for wool started,” she says.

Jan was surrounded by a love of art while she was growing up. Her grandmother was an artist and her mother and aunt were involved with arts and crafts around New Zealand. After leaving school Jan went on to study craft design at Waikato Polytech.

“I then spent the rest of my life raising children and doing work I didn’t really enjoy,” she says.

“Around 20 years ago I had a dream of owning a piece of land and calling it LOMAH – Land of Milk and Honey – from the story of Moses and the Israelites waiting in the wilderness to enter their promised land. It hasn’t quite been their forty years, but I now have my own slice of paradise at Barrytown.”

Jan has fallen in love with the West Coast and the inspiration its untamed natural wilderness provides.

“To express myself as an artist it is important I am somewhere that harmonises with my senses. The Coast is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth. From mist rising off the forest after the rain to glistening snowy mountains, comfortably hot late summer days, native birdsong at the break of day and the smell of the sea - what more could you want?” she says.

“Apart from briefly dabbling with felt-making at Polytech, I only really got into it about two years ago. I made some booties for my grandchildren and it just took off from there. I have done a couple of training workshops with world-class felt-makers in the past year and decided this is what I want to do for work.

“I was still mulling over the idea - ‘could I turn my hobby into an income’. I wanted to give it a go but had zero experience or knowledge about how to make it a reality.”

To help progress her ideas, Jan signed up for DWC’s Co.Starters business start-up and development programme being run by WestREAP in Greymouth.

“This was a great course for me and at the right time. I had the ideas for my business but didn’t know how to develop it. Co.Starters ran me through the whole process from market research to the legal stuff. I left feeling confident with an ‘I can do this’ attitude and was able to figure out the next steps in developing my business.

“I want to take growing Lomah Felt quite slowly. Of more value to me, and my business, is that I gain a name as a felt-maker and artist who produces high quality items. This is not something you can fake. You can’t launch yourself to the world and say - ‘here I am, I am a world class felt-maker’. You have to work to get that recognition. That is my goal.

“The Coast is not a region known for its wool, but I have found some excellent wool grown right here that is perfect for boot making. Others import the right kind of wool from Europe, but this is better. NZ’s merino growing zone is right on our doorstep. This means I can keep my ‘footprint’ low by purchasing one of my principle raw materials locally.

“For other materials I use the internet. I can live in this beautiful quiet place and still have access to the world market. The price of real estate here on the Coast means that my dream of owning a small lifestyle block and running a business from home can be a reality. I couldn’t afford to do this anywhere else.”

Lomah Felt’s products are currently available at Nimmo’s Gallery in Greymouth. Jan also has products available online via the Lomah Felt Facebook page or website.

If you would like to register an expression of interest in the Co.Starters business startup and development programme for the new year, please contact Development West Coast at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2019 11 06 Omoto slip

NZTA working closely with KiwiRail on Omoto Slip Site.


In a meeting on 5 November 2019, NZTA and KiwiRail updated Mayor Tania Gibson, the Grey District BPA and DWC on progress with the Omoto slip site. NZTA is working closely with KiwiRail to ensure long-term security for both the state highway and rail link. A drill rig is on site draining water from the slip surface with drilling expected to be complete by Monday 18 November, weather dependent.

For latest progress updates visit: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh7-omoto-east-landslide/


MEDIA RELEASE: 5 November 2019 3:23 pm | NZ Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail say work is progressing on draining the Omoto slip site, with a drill rig now on site to undertake drainage of water from the slip surface.

The rig will be installing boreholes today to monitor groundwater, before starting the drainage drilling later this week.

“Movement at the slip has steadied over the last week, however we continue to regularly monitor ground movement to ensure the safety of our workers,” says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager for the Transport Agency on the West Coast.

“We are monitoring the weather forecast over the next 10 days and continually assessing what impact it may have on our work.

“This stage of drilling work is expected to be complete by Monday 18 November, weather dependant, and we will be able to share more details of what our next steps will be after that.

“We appreciate the disruption and inconvenience this is causing, particularly to residents in Kaiata and Dobson, and ask for their continued patience while we work on a robust repair strategy,” Ms Whinham says.

“The Transport Agency is working closely with KiwiRail to ensure that we can provide long-term security for both the state highway and rail link.”

KiwiRail South Island General Operations Manager Jeanine Benson says “KiwiRail knows how important this is for the West Coast and our customers there, and we are determined to resume running the world-class TranzAlpine service all the way to Greymouth, and to get our customers’ freight onto rail.

Until the repairs are completed the TranzAlpine will continue to run between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass, with passengers bussed between there and Greymouth.



2019 11 04 OutWest Tours

Buller in a Unimog. 

Explore the untamed natural wilderness of the West Coast with a scenic off-road four wheel-drive tour.

Owned and operated by Mickey and Doreen Ryan, Outwest Tours provides authentic West Coast experiences, taking visitors off the beaten track into the heart of the land.

Since 2001 they have offered tours in four wheel-drive vehicles through spectacular landscapes, historic gold mining trails and the open-cast Stockton mine.

To grow the business and create additional local employment, Mickey and Doreen approached DWC to assist with the establishment and development of ‘Johnny’s Journey’.

This tour provides a unique adventure through the Awakari Valley. Visitors can see wild deer, unusual rock formations, an ancient Māori cave, lush rainforest and get to hear off-the-grid landowner Johnny Currie tell bush lore and stories of how the pioneers lived.

“Outwest Tours would like to thank DWC for all their assistance over the last couple of years. Without the support from DWC Outwest Tours would not have succeeded in their venture,” Doreen says.

On the West Coast it is easy to take for granted the rich history and spectacular landscapes we have in our backyard. Take the opportunity to explore the Buller region with Mickey and Doreen in a reconditioned Unimog and hear some good old yarns from Johnny.

Ph: 0800 OUTWEST (0800 688 937)


2019 11 04 Tourism Award

Industry Connections Award

Development West Coast's tourism team has won the Industry Connections Award at the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Awards.

DWC picked up the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment Industry Connections Award at the gala dinner held at Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena, attended by more than 430 industry leaders and supporters.

The award was recognition for the ‘Come through for the West Coast’ campaign, which was run following the reopening of the Waiho Bridge.

The loss of the Waiho Bridge in March during an extreme weather event created a major disruption to the tourism sector with the economic impact felt Coast-wide. The financial loss was estimated at $50.4 million.

After the bridge was rebuilt, DWC ran a $47,000 campaign to attract visitors back to the Coast in the lead up to the Easter Holidays.

DWC’s regional tourism manager Jim Little says the campaign successfully recreated visitor demand by bringing together eight regional promotions groups, the Department of Conservation, KiwiRail, Christchurch Airport and 229 tourism businesses from Karamea in the north to Haast in the south.

“It also fostered valuable ongoing connections between all those involved.”

Data from Paymark shows the West Coast had New Zealand’s biggest percentage increase in spending following the reopening of the Waiho Bridge, rising from $7.8m for the week ending 22 April in 2018 to $10m in 2019.

2019 11 04 Awards 2

2019 11 04 Reefton Tech Services

IT Services and Refurbished Computers

Carol Paterson is known as the ‘Computer Lady’ in Reefton, where she is the go-to person for computer inquiries.

Support from DWC is helping her business, Reefton Tech Services (RTS), fill a need for local, affordable and reliable IT services. RTS also offers refurbished desktop and laptop computers at an affordable price throughout the West Coast.

Carol has a background in community work and social development. Her business idea had its origins at the local charity 'Who Cares House', where she provided free IT troubleshooting services for locals. Carol has now turned her passion, and much needed services, into a formal business. She has also employed a local computer technician to help grow the business.

“Living and working in a small rural community ticks all the boxes for me, and although a business needs to make a profit, this business is seriously socially responsible,” she says.

Carol has a long family connection to the Coast.

“There is coal in my blood. My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Jane Young, was born at Denniston in 1899.”

Carol is passionate about Reefton and its future and, in her own way, is making a valuable contribution to the local economy.

“With support from DWC, the future is looking bright for RTS. We can now confidently move forward with our planned future vision,” she says.

“This includes; public access to a computer suite, computer training, product sales and services, all housed in accessible premises.”

For more details contact:
Reefton Tech Services
Ph: 027 488 9919, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.