No Images? Click here

August 2016



Welcome to the latest edition of Growing our Region.

This newsletter will be arriving in your inbox as we prepare for the launch of the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan on August 12 in Whanganui. The launch, which will be attended by Ministers Steven Joyce, Nathan Guy and Te Ururoa Flavell, will outline some of the initiatives listed in the Action Plan and will provide information on how we can all help to create a prosperous, strong and vibrant Region.  We are especially excited to get to this point as the Action Plan is a result of 12 month's work following the launch of the Regional Growth Study last July.

The Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan prioritises a series of actions and recommendations to help unlock our Region's potential through nine identified opportunities: 

Tourisman exciting prospect due to the natural and cultural assets of the Tongariro-Whanganui area and the growth of international tourism.

Mānuka Honey has undergone rampant growth in the Region over recent times. Our Region’s Class 6 and 7 hill country lands have become a valuable and productive resource for what is seen as a ‘hot’ opportunity.

Land Use Optimisation this is all about improving farm productivity using ‘best practice’ as small improvements on each farm can lead to large regional impacts. This includes ‘Sheep and Beef Farming and Processing’, originally listed as a separate opportunity. 

Poultry Meat Production – success here centres on establishing a new and sustainable Asian market.

Quality Care and Lifestyle for Older People initially focusing on Levin, this is about rethinking how services are delivered to older people in a community setting.

Business Process Outsourcing – Contact Centresthere is an opportunity to grow the contact centre industry in the Region due to the comparative lower set up cost and more stable workforce when compared to other regions.

Business Process Outsourcing – FoodHQ this is a way of accessing advanced technical and scientific IP to add value to the products of the Region. FoodHQ is the vehicle and to build its capacity and capability it needs to attract revenues from multi-national food companies to the Region. Local opportunities can then spin off this asset.

Fresh Vegetables this Region has fantastic fertile horticultural land. With a saturated domestic market there is an opportunity to expand into new export markets. This will require collective marketing and logistics from the industry.

Realising Māori potential - this is a region of high Māori population, growing enterprise and active iwi. Māori want to participate in regional growth as partners, facilitators, investors and business people. The Action Plan addresses the fundamentals required to achieve this goal.

If you want to follow the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan launch, we will be live tweeting from the event. Check out @Accelerate_25 to see all the updates.

In the mean time have read through this newsletter, get up to date with happenings around the Region and jump onto the website from 12 August, when the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan will be available to download.

On behalf of the Lead Team we wish to thank all the people who have given their time to contribute to the Action Plan. Because of their commitment, alongside iwi, local and central government agencies, the Action Plan will soon come to fruition. 

The Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan will provide the building blocks to prosperity in our Region, it will require momentum from all of us to get on board and make it happen.



Michael McCartney                                                                                                             Lead Team Facilitator - Accelerate25




Manawatū-Whanganui has the fastest growing workforce in NZ

Statistics New Zealand’s recent Household Labour Force Survey found Manawatū-Whanganui had the fastest growing workforce in the country.

The Manawatū-Whanganui labour force has grown by 5.84 per cent in the last year with 114,000 people employed in the first quarter of 2016. This is almost triple the national average of 2.03 per cent growth.

ANZ Research also found there were 15.6 per cent more Manawatū jobs advertised, both in print and online, in June this year compared to June 2015. This is the second biggest rise behind Otago at 16.7 per cent.

This is all exciting news for the Region and an indication that initiatives such as Accelerate25 are starting to work as expressed by Palmerston North City Mayor Grant Smith.

International success achieved in Whanganui

Based in Whanganui, GDM Group is a multi-million dollar, award winning business which has proven that international success is possible from the provinces.

Founded 38 years ago by Managing Director, Michael Eden, GDM Group provides retail systems for clients including The Warehouse, Rodd and Gunn, Liquorland, Heidi Klum, Bendon, Mitre 10, Noel Leeming, TESCO, Topshop and many others across the globe.

GDM Group has an emphasis on innovative design with the expertise to create customised solutions. GDM Group design, engineer and manufacture retail fixtures and furniture for retail and commercial fit outs.

Today GDM Group employs 65 staff at its Whanganui Headquarters with staff in Australia and China. In order to keep up with increasing demand and to supply products globally the company also owns a factory in China alongside other supply partners.

Michael believes his company’s secret to success is their ability to build strong relationships with clients. 

“It’s all about face-time. Customers like to meet with the people doing the work, whether that is our account managers, designers or engineers,”

“We make the effort to meet with those customers, wherever they are based, and yes that means staff travel frequently and yes it takes time however it’s worth it.” 

For Michael having a stable workforce in Whanganui, with a low turnover, is also essential to building strong relationships.

“Our competitors in bigger cities are often changing staff and that is frustrating for their customers,” he says. 

“Customers stay with us as they know what to expect, we have a proven history of being reliable and we ensure they come first.”

At times it can be a challenge for GDM Group to encourage skilled people to move to Whanganui however when they are here they enjoy the great lifestyle benefits. 

“Plus it only takes about five minutes to get to work!”

Alongside good relationships, the ability to be efficient while maintaining manufacturing excellence has been essential in retaining and growing GDM Group’s client base. In recent years the company has adopted a Lean Manufacturing programme, where waste is reduced in all areas while promoting continuous improvement. This has led to a positive effect on the company’s bottom line. 

GDM Group has also been successful due to their ability to collaborate, especially with people and companies in similar industries. Michael and his team are members of the Whanganui Lean group working with other businesses sharing ideas.

“The bigger the place you are in, the less accountability there is, the less of a community spirit,”

“What we have in this Region is a willingness and ability to work together.”

Michael believes this collaboration will be prevalent in the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan which is due to be launched later this month. 

“The Action Plan and the Accelerate25 programme as a whole is about pulling groups together so we can be more competitive as a Region,” he says. 

“If we work together we can attract new customers both nationally and internationally, and build a skilled workforce who can cater specifically for industry’s needs.” 

Looking to the future, GDM Group will continue to strive for sustained profitable growth nationally and on the global stage.

“We continue to grow the company by having the right people and the right mind-set to make this happen.” 

In the mean time, next time you are shopping in your local store have a look at what the product is displayed on, chances are it was designed and produced by a company doing big things in Whanganui. 

GDM- good design matters


Region’s airports welcome new services

In recent weeks two new flight services have arrived in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.

In Palmerston North a Freightways Boeing 737 freighter service plane arrived on a trial flight. The flight is a precursor to scheduled services, which will see the plane make its way to the city potentially multiple times a week from early August.

JetStar now also fly to Auckland from Palmerston North which has seen a large increase in passenger numbers to the city.

On Monday 1 August Air Chathams began flights between Whanganui and Auckland, replacing the previous Air New Zealand service. Air Chathams were welcomed to the Region on Sunday 31 July by a crowd of hundreds who attended an Open Day at Whanganui Airport.