Growing Our Region

Horowhenua leading the way with Project Lift

​The face of the Horowhenua district is changing. Like most districts throughout New Zealand, their community is becoming older and more diverse. It is also increasing in population, with many choosing regional living, within easy travelling distance of Wellington and Palmerston North.
​This changing demographic has been seen as a catalyst for change by the Horowhenua District Council (HDC).

“This change in population is an exciting prospect, it is an opportunity to innovate, collaborate and champion enhanced lifestyles for older people and our community as a whole,” says Shanon Grainger, Economic Development Manager for Horowhenua District Council.

This innovative thinking has led to the creation of Project Lift. Project Lift is about Horowhenua becoming a hothouse for next generation services, products and social practices that enhance the lifestyles and economic well-being of New Zealand’s older population. Essential to Project Lift’s success is the creation of a co-design process that puts people at the centre of collaborative design.

Project Lift is a product of years of collective effort in the Horowhenua District, stimulated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s regional growth agenda which began in 2014.

 “Co-design draws on the talents, skills and perspectives of people in our community and across sectors to find solutions that work,” says Shanon.

“It is a structured process of experimentation that will provide wider benefits to the community.”

The co-design process will be run by facilitators who will be appointed via a tender process.

“Once our facilitators are in place, we will call for teams to take up the challenge of designing services, products or social practices for our seven project areas, this process will occur in a series of co-design labs.”

The seven project areas support the well being of older people and range from social and cultural inclusion, to housing and shelter, to sustenance and nutrition.

At the end of the process, the best solutions will be chosen for implementation. Low-cost innovative solutions will be brought to scale and evaluated, and where they work, HDC will be looking to share and market those solutions.

Solutions requiring significant public and private investment will undergo business development cases to attract further funding and investment.

Shanon believes Levin and the wider Horowhenua provide an excellent environment for innovation in supporting the lifestyles of older people.

“Levin is on the doorstep of Wellington and Palmerston North, allowing us to draw on the concentrated expertise in governance, business development, and specialist skills in these locations.

“Along with its location, Levin the ideal size. It is small enough to trial collaborative, cross-disciplinary design processes, and large enough to see if proposed solutions will work.”

Feedback from the local community has also been overwhelmingly positive, with community members open to change and innovation.

Levin also attracts a large number of retirees which provides a large consumer base to trial innovative ideas and products on.

In order to move into the next phase of the project in-kind funding and direct investment from HDC will be required to ensure success. Direct investment from central government is also needed.

Shanon feels that being a part of Accelerate25 is beneficial when attracting this type of investment.

“Accelerate25 gives us access to the collective support, knowledge and experience of leaders across the region and within central government.

“The A25 programme allows us to maximise Project Lift’s benefits for Horowhenua, and also the overarching benefits for the region as a whole.”

For now, Shanon and the Project Lift team are awaiting further support from central government. They are confident it is a matter of when, not if, funding is agreed upon.

To find out more visit website to view the full Project Lift master plan.