Perception change, attraction and storytelling on the agenda for new Te Waka hire

Sharing the region’s successes and taking the region on a journey are high on the agenda for Te Waka’s new marketing and communications manager Amy van Garderen.

Born in the UK and raised in Hamilton since she was four years-old, Amy has spent the past decade in communications and marketing roles at a variety of Hamilton-based organisations and has a good idea about what makes the region tick.

For five years, Amy was the marketing manager for Hamilton City Council’s event facility unit, now known as H3 Group, where she project managed the integration of Hamilton’s large event venues, such as Claudelands, Seddon Park and FMG Stadium Waikato, into one business identity to attract more businesses to host major events and conferences in Hamilton.

Amy says she was keen to bring her extensive city attraction experience to Te Waka and apply her skills at a regional level.

“I understand the challenges that come with overcoming ingrained perceptions of the region and the work there is around taking people on a journey while overcoming challenges and reporting on outcomes,” she says.

“I’m looking forward to contributing to Te Waka’s work and the regional significance it will have.”

Prior to her work with H3 Group, Amy was a marketing executive at Hamilton City Council where she worked on the Garden Place and City Heart project which aimed to create a safe and vibrant community for people and businesses in the central city. The project, in collaboration with the Hamilton Central Business Association, saw the central city and Garden Place transformed into a popular public event space, which included the Summer in Garden Place events, free concerts and the annual Christmas Tree celebration.

Amy says as Te Waka moves forward, communicating with internal and external stakeholders will be key to maintaining and building on the positive support the economic development agency has had so far.

“Coming off the back of a really successful launch and the overwhelmingly positive reaction it’s had, the challenge now is to keep that momentum going and to share information in a way that’s easy to consume and engaging.

“Along the way we’ll also be educating people on who Te Waka is, what it does and clearing up any confusion that might be out there as to who they should come to for advice.”

Amy says the “front door” message is particularly apt for Te Waka.

“It’s really important we continue to be seen as the front door for the region – everyone is welcome,” she says.

“There has been a lot of great work done by other agencies, businesses and individuals to get Te Waka to the place it is now, and from a communications point of view our task is to make sure people know we exist, know how we can help them, and that they see we’re delivering on what we promised.”