Whanganui is open for business with a city-wide fast fibre network, plentiful and affordable land and buildings and a logistics hub carrying exports by rail for shipping to global markets. A proactive district council and specialist economic development agency are keen to talk about what’s available for established companies and start up entrepreneurs looking to relocate, expand or get new ventures off the ground.
Modern health facilities
The 215-bed Whanganui Hospital provides wide-ranging health care including maternity services. A two-stage multi-million dollar upgrade was completed in 2008 and the complex, just 2km from the CBD, is also home to Whanganui Accident and Medical (WAM) which provides after hours general medical care.
Earlier this year Whanganui District Health Board won praise for surpassing five of the health minister’s six health targets.
A range of medical specialists practise in Whanganui and the 17-bed Belverdale Private Surgical Hospital has a modern operating theatre and endoscopy suite.
The centralAlliance, a collaborative agreement between Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards, maximises the region’s resources and knowledge, and some advanced treatment options are available at Palmerston North hospital, one hour’s drive from Whanganui.
Education options abound
Whanganui has long been known for its range of quality educational options, attracting secondary and tertiary students from around New Zealand and overseas.
Wanganui Collegiate, a co-educational seven-day boarding and day school for Years 9-13, is affiliated to the Anglican Church and was integrated into the state system in January 2013. The school celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004. The affiliated St George’s day school for years 4-8 is based at the Collegiate campus.
Wanganui High School is the district’s largest school and boasts student achievement within New Zealand’s top 10 co-ed secondary schools. It is well regarded internationally and is home to one of the country’s four accredited Confucius Classrooms.
Co-ed Wanganui City College features a Military Services Academy that is a combined initiative of the Ministries of Education, Social Development and Defence. Twenty senior students are chosen for each year long course.
Founded in 1891, Wanganui Girls College caters for day pupils and boarders, including international students, with spacious grounds and modern facilities. It also welcomes mature students.
UCOL (Universal College of Learning) is a government Tertiary Education Institute with a modern central city campus that offers wide ranging vocational courses and is home to design and fashion schools.
Collaboration aids industry success
INTRANZ (Industry Training New Zealand) is unique initiative operating in the Heads Road industrial hub that provides training by industry, for industry. A collaboration of leading manufacturers, the YMCA and the Wanganui District Council, INTRANZ produces work-ready graduates with the National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Level 2).
And a group of successful district manufacturers have been collaborating for the past six years to achieve international best practice through the Lean business methodology. The Lean Wanganui group focuses on the principles made famous by Toyota that show efficiency and effectiveness are applicable to every business type.
Importantly, the group members encourage staff at every level of their businesses to think for themselves, offer and share ideas, and problem-solve.
An airport just five minutes drive from downtown, with easy parking and served by regular Air Chathams one-hour flights to Auckland, is the envy of business executives in larger centres.
The well-appointed terminal has café facilities and charter flight and air ambulance services operate alongside a flying school.
Palmerston North airport is less than an hour’s drive away and it’s just two-and-a-half hours driving time to the Capital.
Living the lifestyle
Whanganui punches above its weight with well-maintained civic recreational facilities catering for every taste. It’s home to Cooks Gardens, which made international headlines in 1962 when Peter Snell set a new world record with his 3 min 54.4 sec mile. The facility also boasts a cycling track and conference/function facilities.
Just minutes from the CBD is the community Splash Centre with a range of pools and other facilities including a hydro-slide. It’s part of a complex that includes a stadium hosting indoor sports and spacious fields for summer and winter sports.
The riverside Kowhai Park is a fun-filled spot for children and the Whanganui River provides ideal conditions for rowing, waka ama and power boating. Within a short distance offshore are plentiful fishing grounds with annual onshore and offshore fishing competitions attracting large numbers of anglers.
Locals and visitors flock to the Saturday morning River Traders and Farmers Markets year-round with more than 100 stallholders offering art and craftworks, fresh cut flowers, garden plants and products together with traditional baking and regional produce.
The Sarjeant Gallery and Whanganui Regional Museum are known nationally and internationally, and the city is home to a wide range of musical, arts and crafts groups. The Community Education Service offers courses including languages and crafts.