Growing Our Region

Tararua experiencing unprecedented growth

​Having just celebrated thirty years as a district in November, Tararua is experiencing unprecedented growth for the first time. This strong growth is expected to continue as the development of Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, replacing the Manawatū Gorge, progresses.   
It is this growth that Tararua District Council’s (TDC) Economic Development team are turning their minds to, having spent the last couple of years putting in place some strong foundations for growth.

The council adopted a new Economic Development Plan in September which sets out the future direction for the team over the years ahead.  The various projects in the plan are grouped under five strategic themes:

·         District Identity
·         District Marketing
·         Support and Grow Business
·         Community Sector Growth
·         Education and Youth

Economic Development and Communications Manager, Mark Maxwell, has now been in the role two and a half years.  One of the projects he and the team have tackled is the development of new district branding.

“Our goal is to ensure all marketing collateral across the district is consistent and looks great,” says Mark.

“New district signage is now being manufactured, along with the visitor guide, visitor map and walkway guide which are all in development.”

The TDC economic development team are constantly sourcing forms of funding. They had early success, thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), to develop a Tararua District Visitor and Walk-Cycle Strategy and Action PlanHenley Hutchings were engaged to complete this work, with the resulting strategy and action plan to guide the team in the years ahead.

Early PGF funding was also secured for a land diversification study.  This project builds on the earlier Go! Project undertaken during the early 2000’s.  Four crops are being researched for possible growth or new industry opportunities – feijoas, hazelnuts, berries and cider apples.  The project will conclude with a workshop during the 2020 NZ AgriFood Week.

“Leveraging Council funding is absolutely key for our economic development team,” says Mark.

“Funding opportunities such as the PGF and Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) are constantly being reviewed to advance projects for the district.”

A new toilet and shower facility for Mangatainoka is a recent example of TIF funding. Mangatainoka is experiencing strong growth in campervan numbers, thanks to investment in the NZ Motor Caravan Association market.

With three neighbouring districts, the team invests strongly in developing and maintaining relationships with others involved in economic development.   Around 50% of visitors travel from either Hawkes Bay or Wairarapa, so there are significant benefits in collaborating as widely as possible.

Tararua’s Economic Development team also provide on-going support for entrepreneurs and business owners, delivered primarily through services offered at the Tararua Business Network in Dannevirke.  The team provides guidance and support to the appropriate resources and delivers a range of workshops through the year.  They also maintain a strong relationship with CEDA and refer businesses for the Regional Business Partners and Callaghan Innovation programmes where appropriate.

Looking ahead to 2020 the Economic Development team will be focused on delivering the various PGF project outcomes they are contracted to achieve and delivering on the action plan from the Visitor Strategy and Action Plan.  Key to this strategy, is to work on growing existing events, such as the Woodville MotoX.  Council has engaged the services of a professional event manager to review the event and develop a five-year growth strategy. 

“In the events sector we have so much going on, with outstanding potential,” says Mark.

“We have a number of current events with the capacity and potential to grow, alongside a range of new event ideas the team are keen to explore.”

The objective is to attract new visitors to the district, while also providing new and exciting activities for those who call Tararua home.

If anything in this article resonates with you, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with Mark and the Economic Development team on 06 374 4093.