Update Bulletin – February 2019

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Kia ora koutou

Greetings and best wishes for 2019.  On behalf of the Whanganui & Partners Board I would like to thank all of Whanganui for your ongoing support for our team, and the city we love so dearly. Our district is in a fantastic place right now and we are positioned to make some significant economic gains in the next few years. This upcoming year in particular will be very busy and is critical in progressing some major projects to conclusion and getting other significant projects underway. 

I take this opportunity also to formally welcome Mark Ward, our new CEO, to the organisation. We give him and the team all our support as they implement our strategy.  Economic development is a complex and intensive process that requires all types of skills, knowledge and collaboration across multiple business sectors.  We are focusing strongly on collaboration through our partnerships, measuring our success through others.  I cannot recall a time in recent history where there has been as much opportunity and momentum as we have before us right now. Whanganui & Partners is committed to working alongside you all to realise these opportunities, unlocking the full potential of our fantastic district.  There are truly exciting times ahead.  Let’s keep up that momentum as we continue to support each other and please enjoy reading the following update.

Ngā mihi 
Myles Fothergill
Chairman – Whanganui & Partners 
Kia ora

2019 has gotten off to a roaring start with very successful visitor events and conferences over the last few weeks. It’s been thrilling for me personally to experience Whanganui at its most vibrant with so much on offer; sport, music, food, arts, education and business opportunities galore. Our district really does have a unique combination of sophisticated city and country lifestyles, but with a ‘small and friendly town’ feel – Everything I was hoping for (and then some!)

We want to share what we’ve been up to with our community and stakeholders, which is why we’re reinstating the Whanganui & Partners’ email newsletter. We’ll be sending out updates every six weeks and we hope you enjoy hearing about what the team has been doing (you can also manage your subscription at the bottom of every newsletter).
As an incoming CEO, I’ve found it incredibly easy to settle straight into a busy routine, as well as find relaxation and amenity. My team and I continue on our mission of understanding our partners’ most important needs and aspirations so that we can enhance your success, and our focus. Whether it’s to accelerate your action plan, fill capability gaps, bounce ideas, or join forces to seek funding, infrastructure or people, our doors are open to you.

Our organisation focuses on major opportunities for Whanganui and clears roadblocks that slow down our economic development. We also help to create greater demand for all that Whanganui has on offer. We will be holding another public and stakeholder forum on 16 April to discuss focus, action plans, progress and how best to partner with you for the benefit of the district.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Louise Follett, Conference Lead and Promotions, who has decided to move on in her career. Louise has supported outstanding events and other marketing initiatives in Whanganui. The team at Whanganui & Partners will miss her passion, dedication and very hard work.  Many members across our community have been well-served and always express great appreciation for Louise’s efforts which are invariably above and beyond her role. We wish her the very best for the future!

Thank you for your warm welcome and support. I look forward to meeting with you soon.

Ngā mihi nui

Mark Ward
Chief Executive 



Hannah Kelly
Strategic Lead Education & Youth

We’ve been involved in some great events so far this year, including an Education Champions Network meeting with Anya Satanand as a special guest facilitator. We were also proud to sponsor the Colab Conference’s panel discussion “Communities in Collaboration: Accessing Public Access Studios”.

The Massey University Executive MBA 2019 cohort started their learning journey in Whanganui over the weekend. The executives enjoyed a warm welcome from Mayor Hamish on the Waimarie on Friday night, followed by a long weekend of being immersed in Whanganui’s business community. This included presentations, exploring Main Street and Heads Road, and panel discussions with the WDC Youth Committee and Māori business leaders. Connecting the executives to our local business community was a great experience for everyone involved, with Director of the Massey University School of Business Patricia Bossons commenting: “I don’t think I have ever heard an MBA class buzzing so much before.”

We’re looking forward the International Student Mayoral Welcome is at the War Memorial Centre (6 March, 4:00pm), and the Street Art Festival Mentor Programme (28-31 March), matching student artists with professional mentors.
There have been a few big announcements from the central government that we’re following closely:
  • The Manawatu-Whanganui is one of six surge regions, meaning we’ll receive a portion of the $60 million fund allocated to education and employment projects.
  • With the recent announcement of the polytechnic merger (all 16 institutions will be managed as one), Whanganui & Partners will be assisting in leading a collaborative submission back to government. If you are interested in participating, please get in touch.


Rhonda Morris
Strategic Lead – Business Development

One of our big projects in 2019 is a major media campaign to promote Whanganui as a business destination, bringing new businesses and employment opportunities to our city.

Our Business Friendly Group has also been busy, with some great projects in the pipeline. The group helps businesses navigate the consents and compliance process, getting complicated projects off the ground faster. A few projects we’ve been working closely with include:
  • Bridgewater Quay is going to see the former Chronicle building on Taupo Quay transformed into affordable, luxury apartments.
  • Bunnings Warehouse is putting in a location on London St. The new store represents a $19 million investment and is expected to create 50 new jobs.


Paul Chaplow
Strategic Lead – Destination Marketing

The Destination Marketing team has been working hard to promote Whanganui as a great place to visit, live, work and study. A few of our projects include:
  • Whanganui’s Regional Brand Story is nearing completion. The document will include brand guidelines, high quality photography and information on how local businesses can use the content in their own marketing. Check out the video below for a peek at the new look!
  • We’re also nearly ready to publish a Lifestyle Guide, describing the benefits of living in Whanganui.
  • We successfully pitched a couple of stories to Seven Sharp (watch one here) promoting Whanganui, and we’re currently pitching another story around tourism on the river.
  • A Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail website is about to go live. This has been a joint project with Visit Ruapehu.
  • We’re preparing for the Labour Party Conference to be held here later in the year. The conference organisers have already come to check out our venues and city and it’s shaping up to be a successful event. 
  • We support and promote a number of key events and it has been great to see the concept of a “Speedweek” trialled last year. Also new is Whanganui Walls – a street art festival. This festival will coincide with Artist Open Studio, tying in with our local artists.
We are spreading the word about what a great place Whanganui is as part of a promotional campaign ‘Journey Your Way’.


Paul Kjoss
Digital and Online Lead

Whanganui & Partners has completed a new website: www.discoverwhanganui.nz. This site will give potential residents, businesses and students a way to ‘meet’ our city and region. We plan to use the website as a central tool in building the profile Whanganui outside of our district.

Along with this new website we are running digital campaigns to:
Combined, the digital campaigns we ran over summer have reached 250,000+ people.

We’ve also had great results from promoting the Visit Whanganui website via digital campaigns and social media channels: the website had its biggest January ever, with over 1000 views a day.



Rene Olmos
Strategic Lead – Innovation

For the second year running, Whanganui’s entrepreneurs had a chance to learn the skills and confidence needed to turn their business dreams into reality at the PopUp Business School Aotearoa.

The two-week course was organized and brought to the participants by Whanganui & Partners, in partnership with Māori business network, Te Manu Atatu and the Ministry of Social Development.

74 people attended the 2019 programme, which finished last week. We’re excited to see so many people in our community taking ownership of their business dreams and can’t wait to help them through their next steps! 

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