Waitaki Economic Development Strategy

Waitaki has a new, ambitious strategy for the development of the economy. Council has agreed to adopt the Uplifting Waitaki: Hāpaitia te Waitaki Economic Development Strategy. Supported by Polis consulting Group (Polis) and co-designed with Te Rūnanga o Moeraki and the local business community the Strategy sets a path to grow Waitaki’s economy by more than 8% above projected growth in the next 10 years. This would create between $70 and $146 million additional GDP and 1350 additional jobs in the district. 

The strategy also outlines how it can improve all the wellbeing’s of the district- social, cultural, environmental, and economic. 

Feedback from businesses and key stakeholders during engagement, has endorsed the evidence-based strategy and the recommendation to establish an Economic Development Agency as a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO), meaning it will be a company owned by Council but operating at arm’s length and managed with a board of directors from business, the Rūnanga and the Council.  

Uplifting Waitaki is a partnership strategy, and the new governance and operational model supports greater collaboration, across the district between businesses, the Rūnanga, Council and stakeholders to deliver shared outcomes, measurable benefits, and better value for our ratepayers. The strategy recognises that whilst Council does have a role in facilitating and supporting economic growth, it is business that will generate the growth. 

Talking about the strategy, Mayor Gary Kircher said, “Council spends quite a lot on improving our economy in different ways and this is a plan which is going to help us focus that spending to give us measurable results. The plan is not just for Council, it is for the district and provides a blueprint for the business community on how we can work together to grow our economy in ways that benefit the whole Waitaki community.” 

Chair of Te Rūnanga o Moeraki's holding company Moeraki Ltd , Trevor McGlinchey, says "The concept behind the whakataukī provided - Waitaki hāpai Tangata, Waitaki hāpai Pakihi, Waitaki hāpai Hapori, or Waitaki uplifting people, business and community, aims to guide a strategy that will build on the social and economic well-being of our communities. Te Rūnanga o Moeraki is happy to have been part of the co-design and welcome the implementation of this strategy, and that it recognises the importance of our Ngāi Tahu cultural capital in the social and economic well-being of our communities."

The strategy has identified 5 interconnected themes and programmes of work to deliver this:  

1. Land and Water – growing and diversifying the important land, farming, fisheries and aquatic resources and associated businesses in the context of growing environmental constraints and climate change.  
2. People Development – developing and attracting the skills our businesses and communities need and are pivotal to unlock growth across sectors.  
3. Place – how to use and improve our towns to add vibrancy and attract more businesses and visitors.  
4. Visitors – increased return from the visitor economy. Developing more engaging experiences and capturing more value from visitors to the district.  
5. Business innovation and growth – supporting increased entrepreneurship, innovation, and productivity.  

The Waitaki Story will be developed as an overarching umbrella proposition for the district. A staged implementation is recommended meaning while it will take longer to deliver results, we will continue to move forward as resources and funding are secured. 

Speaking about the proposed approach, Waitaki District Council CEO, Alex Parmley said, “We don’t have limitless resources and so we need to ensure we get the most benefit from the resource we have for developing the local economy. It is also important to recognise that whilst councils have a role in supporting economic growth, it is businesses that generate growth. The strategy agreed by Council following extensive engagement sets out a partnership approach and governance, through an arm’s length company, with businesses and our partners, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki to oversee what is a shared and collaborative effort. It also targets sustainable and inclusive economic growth – that is growth that is environmentally sustainable and long lasting, and growth that most of the community can benefit from.”

The recommendation from Polis to establish the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony as a separate CCO is to be investigated further with a view to finding the best route to developing the offer of the colony and maximising the benefit to the district.