We know there’s been a lot of organisations who have been working in the economic development space, and we know that it can be confusing! 

Here’s some questions and answers that might be helpful. If you’d like to know more once you’ve got to the bottom of the page, drop us an email and we’ll come back to you.

What is Te Waka? Don’t we already have organisations doing economic development?

Waikato's regional economic development agency, Te Waka, is an important addition to the region – we’re here to be the front door for the region and to help tell our story. Many other organisations do have some aspects of economic development in their remit, but this is the entire focus of Te Waka. We strongly acknowledge the work that has gone before us, with excellent research and planning and we intend to build on that for the betterment of all our communities.

Why has it taken so long?

Probably because the region has felt that the Waikato way of doing things (just get on with it) has been enough. The region has had some focus on economic development, but we feel the time has come to take Waikato to the next level and ensure we are getting the funding and investment we deserve. To do that, though, you have to have a cohesive approach and that’s what we’ll be doing.

How does this fit in with the Waikato Plan and the Waikato Story? Don’t we already have enough ‘Waikato’ stuff in this space?

It’s a fair comment to say the “economic development” space has been fairly crowded, but the introduction of Te Waka is about providing cohesion and helping collaboration to hit the objectives for the region and improve the lives of our people. The work that has gone before, including planning and research, has been imperative in our planning for Te Waka.

How are you being funded?

We have excellent support from councils and community trusts who can see the benefit Te Waka will bring. All local authorities are helping fund Te Waka, and we have had excellent input from WEL Energy Trust. We are working to secure business funding.

So you’re a council organisation?

No, we’re not a council organisation, nor are we a CCO (Council Controlled Organisation). We’re business-led, but with strong backing from the local authorities.

Why are you becoming a company? What’s the point of that?

Te Waka is a limited liability company, and we’re owned by the Waikato Regional Economic Development Trust. This means we are able to act independently. We will have a skills-based board of directors.

What will I notice on the ground in my community?

In the short term, you’ll continue to see the work of the Business Growth Services team out in the communities helping businesses. In the medium term, you’ll hear about and see action on the top priorities and initiatives for the region (these will be decided at a summit in late August 2018). In the longer-term, you’ll notice an uptick in the statistics that show improvements in our region, and this is designed to translate into better individual outcomes for people.

Tell me more about the projects and initiatives you’ll have.

The initiatives and priorities for Te Waka over the next 24 months and beyond will be decided upon in late August 2018. We are encouraging the community leaders who are attending the summit to bring the ideas they’ve been working on, and we’ll be tackling the big questions about which of the ideas we come up with will actually translate into impact on people through economic development. We’ll be keeping the region in the loop about the decisions made and the outcomes of the economic development summit.

Haven’t we seen and heard all this before?

It might feel like that! However, this time is different, we have a remit that tasks us with delivering tangible outcomes in the economic development space. Te Waka is very clear about its objectives and what it will and won’t be doing. This means we will remain very focused on the higher-level work that will clearly make a difference to the people in our communities.

Why are you based at Innovation Park?

It’s an obvious place, we think. It’s the home of innovation and great business, the home of clusters of businesses and industry who naturally collaborate and have great relationships. We think it’s a great spot to do business, and of course, the Business Growth Services team are already based there.

What does Wellington/government think about this?

Those we’ve already talked to have been very encouraging – and the rest are probably wondering why we’ve taken so long to officially form an economic development agency! We’ll be staying in close touch with officials and Ministers and keeping them updated on our progress and discussing funding for the Waikato.

Who’s going to be running Te Waka?

We have an establishment board and will have a permanent board at a later date, and they play a governance role for Te Waka. We’re recruiting for a CEO, but in the establishment, Stuart Gordon of Waikato Innovation Park is leading the charge. We will grow the team in time.

Do you have any existing staff?

While we search for a permanent CEO, we’ll be led by establishment CEO Stuart Gordon. He’s being supported by Harvey Brookes, and also Te Waka's establishment board. And of course the well-known Business Growth Services team from Waikato Innovation Park Ltd are now part of Te Waka and carrying on their great work. Other roles for Te Waka will be brought on as we need them. 

How do I get in touch with the Business Growth team? Are they still there?

They certainly are – nothing has changed other than the team now wears the Te Waka hat. You can contact the Business Growth Service people by phoning 07 857 0538 or emailing anyone below.

Craig Purcell - Craig.Purcell@Waikatoreda.co.nz
Novell Gopal - Novell.Gopal@Waikatoreda.co.nz
Peter Davey - Peter.Davey@Waikatoreda.co.nz
Kahurangi Taylor - Kahurangi.Taylor@Waikatoreda.co.nz
Hayley Smith - Hayley.Smith@Waikatoreda.co.nz
Tony Kane (mentor)

They’re doing all the same work they have done in the past, including visiting lots of spots on the Waikato map, so do get in touch with them.

How do I stay in touch with you?

We’re very accessible! If you’ve got a general inquiry, drop us a line at enquiry@waikatoreda.co.nz or phone 07 857 0538. 

How will you be talking to the community?

We plan to be out and about talking with lots of people, we’ll be sending newsletters, you’ll see us in the media, and of course we’ll be giving updates to our funders, so there will be plenty of opportunity to hear from you. And you can always drop us a line or pick up the phone and ask questions – we love hearing from people.