Trust Tairāwhiti Economic Development Focus

Trust Tairāwhiti Economic Development Focus

Caption: Richard Searle - GM Economic Development

The release of Trust Tairawhiti's strategic plan, Te Aka Rautaki Ki Te Tau 2026, will provide a strategic focus on economic development, the man leading the region's economic development agency says.

Richard Searle, the trust's general manager economic development, says that focus will be to work with Tairawhiti businesses and industry to support an innovative, inclusive, and circular economy, with opportunities for well-paid jobs.

Confirmation of strategic priorities required reflection on whether the economic development team had the functions, capabilities, and resources to deliver its aspirations and make a meaningful difference, he said.

A capability review led to a more cross-functional approach and structure.

“We are pleased to be moving through this period of transition. People can expect to see an increased focus on supporting small to medium businesses, employment, and developing sectors that have real growth potential in Tairawhiti.”

The economic development team within the trust now stands at 17, including the regional tourism office and the i-Site.

“Three business growth advisers, who work in conjunction with NZ Trade and Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation, will continue to deliver business support through the Regional Business Partner programme.”

“Regional workforce development is a priority. That is a programme we support under the auspices of the CARE forum (Commitment, Action, Reciprocity leading to Employment). Within that team we have two workforce advisers tasked with supporting industry, employers and the employee talent pool, along with training organisations and government agencies to bring together our workforce needs with the talent we have in the region.”

“Our Licence to Work programme continues with a focus on upcoming school leavers. Licence to Work delivers opportunities like the recent Game of Life event to connect the region's workforce capability.

Specific work within sectors would also be a focus for two new roles within the trust.

“We currently have sector specialists in tourism and wood. We have added resources to support regional strategies for the digital technology and food and beverage sectors to unlock the region's unique attributes and further benefit our economy.”

Housing needs, visitor accommodation and efficient transport solutions are also strategic priorities, Mr Searle said.

“Project management of TEAP (Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan) ensures we have alignment between the regional economic objectives and our trust objectives.

“We work extensively with Manaaki Tairawhiti on the housing initiative, focused on more development and further construction of houses in Tairawhiti.

“We also know there's a shortage in visitor accommodation, so we are looking at options around that.”

The focus of efficient transport would aim to grow the economy by building further efficiency into the supply chain, particularly around the option for coastal shipping to move high volume goods to export ports.

“More trucks cannot be the only long term solution.

“We have a big programme of work we are undertaking within economic development. It's exciting and the trust has a unique opportunity to support a range of regional initiatives.

“We have a buoyant economy at the moment, so while that remains we need to crack on with building resilience and introducing elements of diversity, while ensuring that the local workforce participates to the greatest extent it can.”