No Images? Click here

October 2016


Welcome to the latest edition of Growing our Region.  

Last week, the Accelerate25 Lead Team met for the first time since the launch of the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan. It provided the opportunity, for us as a group, to discuss a structure that would enable the Action Plan to be implemented effectively.

We intend to appoint a programme leader to oversee the Action Plan and to ensure project teams are progressing. Some project teams will have natural homes such as Horowhenua District Council leading the Quality Care and Lifestyle for Older People opportunity while Ruapehu District Council would lead Tourism and Visitor Services. Other opportunities are not so clear cut which means some thinking needs to be done as to where the projects fit best. 

Another clear message that came from the meeting is the importance for us all to continually identify emerging opportunities, outside of the nine listed in the Action Plan. While the Action Plan is an excellent guiding document for economic development in our Region, industries are always evolving and the potential for growth should always be grasped with two hands.

In other news, another significant milestone for the programme, Te Pae Tawhiti will be launched on November 3rd in Ruapehu by Māori Development Minister, Te Ururoa Flavell. Te Pae Tawhiti is a stand alone document outlining a Māori economic development strategy for our Region. Dr Jason Mika of GHA Consultants, with support from Te Puni Kokiri, was commissioned to do the work which involved meeting around 20 iwi from across the Region and will present some exciting results and prospective opportunities. We will profile this document in greater depth in the December edition of our newsletter.

In the meantime, I encourage you to keep the conversation going around Accelerate25. There is a buzz out there in the community and that can be attested to by the amount of good news that has been profiled in the media from in and around the Region. We live in a fantastic part of the country and only by celebrating our successes and working together, can we continue to improve our prosperity.

Michael McCartney                                                                                                            

Lead Team Facilitator - Accelerate25

Mānuka honey causing a buzz in Dannevirke

Tucked away in the hills near Dannevirke was once a well-kept secret. One that has recently begun to generate a fair amount of, umm, ‘buzz’.

There you can find the rare liquid gold of Mānuka honey in production, which is then encased in the most exquisite packaging, to be delivered directly to customers throughout New Zealand, the United Kingdom and eventually the world. The True Honey Co. is made of truly authentic Mānuka honey, collected from the remotest of New Zealand locations by people who love honey. 

Founder Jim McMillan and his team at The True Honey Co. recently launched their Mānuka honey in Auckland at an event attended by the likes of Nadia Lim and Kasey and Karena of MasterChef fame. While this business may be in its infancy, Jim has been involved with Mānuka honey for several years.  What was once a sideline to Jim’s fertiliser and helicopter businesses has now become a truly exciting commercial operation.

The True Honey Co. now has 5,500 hives situated on land throughout New Zealand, from the North Cape to Golden Bay. Remote ‘marginal land’ sites, often only accessible by helicopter are chosen, which ensures the honey’s high Mānuka content and quality (represented by a rating of 300+ MGO to 1000+ MGO*). Jim also employs approximately 35 staff, most of whom are based in Dannevirke.

The True Honey Co. sets itself apart from its competitors: by only selling Mānuka honey rated MGO 300 and above, and by selling its product directly to customers to cut out the middle man and keep prices fair.

“At The True Honey Co. we are all about quality, we can stand by every drop produced as we have complete control over the supply chain,” says Jim.

New Zealand and the United Kingdom are the first two markets The True Honey Co. is focusing on. A launch event at celebrity Chef Peter Gordon’s restaurant Providores, is planned for mid-October in London. Beyond these markets, Jim hopes to move in to other international markets and develop new products.

The Mānuka Honey industry is going through an incredible boom. So while there are exciting times on the horizon, there are also challenges for The True Honey Co. and the industry as a whole.

At a local level, Jim is concerned about attracting and retaining qualified staff.

“The industry is growing so fast, which means there’s a lot of competition for qualified beekeepers,” he says.

“It is important for us to work with training providers to attract the right people and keep them here.”

At an industry level, Jim highlights the need for ongoing sustainability and the regulation of misleading labelling as key issues.

“Bulk exports need to be ceased, or at the very least regulations need to be tightened around honey which is exported and labelled offshore,” he says.

“Often regulations around labelling of active ingredients can be less stringent and this needs to be tidied up.”

These issues have also been identified in the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan with regulatory standards for the Mānuka Honey industry listed as a priority action. Release of these 

The True Honey Co. founder Jim McMillan

standards by the Ministry for Primary Industries is expected in 2017.

In response to the growing need for skilled people, UCOL have begun a New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture which started in August.  The programme runs for five months full-time with part-time study options available, and is free to domestic students, thanks to funds from the Regional Growth Strategy Scholarship.  

Taught by industry professionals and delivered in real environments, employment outcomes include assistant beekeepers for commercial operators, independent beekeepers with a small number of beehives, or continuing on with the next level of apiculture study designed for commercial beekeeping.  Students also have the opportunity to complete an industry approved American Foulbrood Recognition course. UCOL have purchased and set up a number of hives in order to teach this very practical programme.  There are also various examples of different hive types as well as a designated number of hives that would be purely organic and produce organic honey.

“We have some of the largest commercial operators in the country based in this Region and they are crying out for skilled beekeepers,” says Dr Nicky Van der Bergh, UCOL’s Executive Dean of Engineering and Applied Technology.  “There has been incredible interest for the course already with classes in Palmerston North and Whanganui underway with 46 students enrolled, and Wairarapa classes expected to start next year.”

In the meantime, Jim McMillan couldn’t think of a better place for his business to be based.

“Dannevirke is home and perhaps most importantly because it is home, it means we have very strong relationships with our surrounding landowner partners,” he says.

“These relationships are based on a mutually beneficial partnership built on trust and transparency; our hives provide a purpose for what would previously be considered unproductive farmland while without landowners our business would not be possible.”

Jim has a real passion for Mānuka honey and that is evident in The True Honey Co. products. They are beautifully packaged, deliciously good and exceptional quality. So if you love Mānuka honey even just a little bit as much as Jim does, visit and make a purchase today. You won’t regret it, actually you will savour every bite.

*The methylglyoxal (MGO) is a sugar molecule which is found in most honeys in small quantities.  The MGO rating number for honey is directly proportional to its antibacterial potency. However in Mānuka honey, MGO can be up to 100x higher.

Future focused Agrifood Forum held in Palmerston North

FoodHQ has a 20-year planning horizon to rank among the top five food innovation centres in the world.

Since FoodHQ’s inception in July 2013, two Manawatū Agrifood Forums have been held with the latest being last month. More than 120 people including Members of Parliament attended the forum to hear of progress from several FoodHQ partners, members and associates.  FoodHQ Chairman Peter Landon-Lane welcomed everyone with opening remarks about the progress of FoodHQ and its exciting future direction.

Former Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis spoke about Talent Central, an initiative to improve the transition between schools, education and agrifood businesses to help fill the looming employment gap in the agri and food sectors. Mrs Kouvelis also advised how the Central Districts Field Days is transitioning to become the NZ Agrifood Investment Week – Thereby cementing the region as New Zealand’s home of Agrifood.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor, Hon. Steve Maharey, talked about New Zealand becoming the ‘Restaurant to the World’. He highlighted what consumers want in their foods – Secure, safe, healthy, nutritious, traceable and sustainable and added that taste should also be on that list! He encouraged the tourism and food sectors to work more closely together so visitors can experience the foods and beverages of each specific region.

The inaugural chair of the NZ Food Safety Science and Research Centre, Dr Kevin Marshall, says the centre, established earlier this year, is operational and working on several projects already. He says it will help protect and enhance the reputation of food produced by New Zealand, maintain and enhance exports, increase collective market access and protect public health.

Accelerate25 project director Craig Nash spoke about working with FoodHQ and Spearhead Manawatu actively targeting multinationals to inform them about the FoodHQ offer – More than 2000 scientists from eight organisations on hand to help with research and innovation projects. He advised the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment funded international marketing role will be advertised shortly.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith announced the appointment of an International Relations Officer, thanks to funding received from Central Government as part of the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic

FoodHQ Director Mark Ward

Action Plan launch and that Palmerston North was exploring a Sister City relationship with Wageningen in the Netherlands. If successful, it will be the first New Zealand Netherlands sister city relationship, and it will strengthen FoodHQ and its partner’s relationships with FoodValley and Wageningen University.

The newly appointed chief executive of the Central Economic Development Agency, Will Samuel, spoke of foundation research that was being conducted to gain an in-depth analysis of the opportunities and challenges to the economy of Palmerston North and Manawatū. Following on from Steve Maharey’s comments, he raised the idea of regional branding to ensure our agrifood products are easily identifiable and to add value.

Business Hawke’s Bay is a FoodHQ Innovation Gold Club member. Programme manager food and beverage, Catherine Rusby spoke about the inaugural FoodHQ World Tour that she attended earlier this year. Ms Rusby spoke of the need for regions across New Zealand to work together to access international markets.

FoodHQ Director Mark Ward advised the FoodHQ Innovation Club had been approached by the FAME Trust – The Food & Agribusiness Market Emersion executive development programme that is looking to join the FoodHQ Innovation Gold Club – potentially lifting membership numbers to over 100 by the end of the year.

Mr Ward says it was pleasing to have a large crowd attend the forum which included delegates from neighbouring districts and cities.  He looks forward to many more interactions between businesses in the Region and New Zealand’s gateway to food innovation – FoodHQ.

The Manawatū Agri-food Forum was kindly sponsored by FoodHQ’s strategic partner ANZ.


Horowhenua planning for growth with redevelopment of Levin town centre

Great things are happening in Levin and Horowhenua. It’s the place to be with house prices on the up, new people moving to the District and new businesses being established.

The Wellington Northern Corridor, a Roads of National Significance project between Wellington and Levin, is expected to bring major economic implications to Levin. Growth predictions for the Horowhenua District expect the arrival of 10,000 new people, resulting in 4,000 new houses and 1,000 new jobs. That sort of population growth is almost a third of the District’s current population.

This level of growth means significant change for the community, particularly in relation to the number of older people living in the District, so the Horowhenua District Council have identified the need to plan for that change and to consider what Levin may look like over the next 20 years.

The Horowhenua District Council has been consulting with the community on a Levin Town Centre Strategy. This strategy will help shape the redevelopment of the town centre in the future. Throughout July and August the project team, led by Urban Designer Anna Wood, have been holding conversations with the community, attending events and seeking feedback in person and online.

“We are asking for people to contribute their aspirations for Levin and how they would like to see it in 20 years time, as well as provide feedback on a few of our thoughts,” says Ms Wood.

The information they have gathered will then be presented as a draft strategy to Council and the community later this year for feedback.

The project team recognise that older people make up a large sector

of the community in Levin and have been working with numerous older persons networking groups to gain feedback on their particular needs.

“From a design perspective, our goal is to design accessible places for everyone,” says Ms Wood.

“Levin town centre is a place for all in the community to enjoy so when we identify opportunities to improve public spaces, streets and buildings we will do so with consideration to the needs of older people.”

This is a long term project for the Horowhenua District Council which Ms Wood believes could also be a prototype for other councils in this Region and around New Zealand. 

“This strategy, which will link into the actions recommended under the Quality Care and Lifestyle for Older People opportunity, may be a chance for Horowhenua District Council to lead by example, because it is about how we use our town environment to support each other,” she says.

Ms Wood would also like to thank all who have engaged with the project team over the past few months.

“We have had in-depth conversations with so many which have been hugely beneficial, these conversations will certainly shape the strategy document that we are putting together.”

Find out more about the Levin Town Centre Strategy or call the Horowhenua District Council on 06 366 0999.


What's been happening in and around our Region?

Over the past two months there has been plenty of exciting news and events around our Region. Many of which we should be shouting from the rooftops! To keep up to date with whats going on, join us on twitter @Accelerate_25 or check out the following news stories.