Nelson Regional Development Agency 2020 – 2021 Annual Report

To say the 2020/21 business year was extraordinary would be an understatement. Over the course of the year, NRDA maintained and strengthened much of our core activity on behalf of the region and introduced a number of new initiatives and interventions to help the region navigate COVID-19 and build back better from the pandemic.

Much of our work was focused around delivering on the Project Kōkiri Nelson Tasman Economic Response & Regeneration Plan, released in June 2020. We are proud to have been awarded the Economic Development NZ Best Practice Award for Collaboration, for our work in driving Project Kōkiri.

Click below to read an update from our NRDA’s Chief Executive and Chairperson.

Our response to COVID-19

The onset of COVID-19 and resulting economic crisis led to the development of Project Kōkiri, a collaboration between NCC, TDC, NRDA, Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce (NTCC), Iwi and Central Government’s regionally based agencies.

In June 2020, Project Kōkiri released the Nelson Tasman’s Economic Response & Regeneration Plan which outlined the region’s economic strategy for the coming twelve months. The aim was to initiate a response and regeneration that would stimulate the economy, protect and create new jobs and accelerate investment into the region. This Plan was aligned with the vision of the Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy – To Be Good Ancestors.

For the 2020-21 year all of NRDA’s activities were focused on leading the collaborative implementation of this Plan and activity was aligned and driven by the seven-point action plan contained therein. While NRDA is responsible for the majority of the deliverables in the Project Kōkiri action plan, it is not accountable for all. For the 2020-21 year the NRDA’s role in Project Kōkiri was focused around the following Project Kōkiri activity areas:

  1. Targeted Business and Innovation Support
  2. Capability Building and Job Creation
  3. Business and Investment Attraction
  4. Stimulating Local Spending and Domestic Visitation
  5. Local Government Stimulus (note no NRDA component)
  6. Visitor Destination Management
  7. Regional Competitive Advantage and Regeneration Initiatives

Core Business Highlights for 2020 – 2021

Targeted Business and Innovation Support

This has been a huge year and business demand boomed! The Regional Business Partner Programme experienced a huge 250% increase in demand in 2020-21.

$3.4m of funding was approved, 240% ahead of target

80 businesses were intensively case managed, 200% ahead of target

Despite additional demand, the Net Promoter Score that reflects customer satisfaction, was +100 (target +60) – a feat not achieved by any other region in New Zealand

The Mahitahi Colab quickly became HQ for the region’s economic response to COVID-19 and despite alert level disruptions, the Colab hosted 66 events with over 2,400 attendees.

Co-working grew significantly and is nearing full capacity to the extent that expansion opportunities are being actively explored.

"I joined the Mahitahi Colab shortly after moving to Nelson while working remotely for a Christchurch-based software firm. The Colab provided me with a new network of friends and colleagues which really helped me settle into a new city and ultimately led to me landing my dream job with the Nelson AI Institute late last year. I am now using my software engineering skills and AI to help incentivise tree planting to combat climate change, and feel well and truly part of the Nelson tech community. Thanks to the Mahitahi Colab for making that all possible!"

– Hannes Hille, Nelson AI Institute

Capability Building and Job Creation

The Education to Employment brokerage service exceeded expectations, culminating in the stand-out Fantastic Futures Conference in April, giving 100 students in Years 11 to 13 the opportunity to learn and be inspired about pathways and opportunities in Nelson Tasman’s key sectors.

"The Fantastic Futures Conference was a great event. Things that stood out for me were the overall professionalism of the day, it ran very smoothly and the guest speakers were interesting, engaging and relevant to the students. The food was clearly a hit for the students and I think they responded well to the ‘conference-style’ format."

– Catharine Wood, Teacher of Pathways & Gateway, Nayland College

The Nelson Tasman Intern programme ran for its third successful summer with 10 interns employed across a range of employers and industries around the region. The Interns rated their experience as 4.7/5 and 100% of them would recommend the programme to their peers.

Building on the success of the intern programme, a new Nelson Tasman Grad programme was developed ready for a full launch in February 2022. We trialled the programme in 2019/20 with great feedback - one “shared” Grad was employed in the region, completing 4 x 6-month placements in four different businesses across the region.

"Our experience with the Grad Share Programme has been highly positive. Our graduate has brought enthusiasm and a willingness to try unfamiliar tasks and added vibrancy and diversity to our business. We have enjoyed being part of an innovative programme, adding to our reputation as a great place to work by showcasing exciting grad opportunities."

– Jenny van Workum, OneFortyOne

Pick Nelson Tasman and Catch a Job

The 'Pick Nelson Tasman' seasonal worker attraction campaign was a crucial intervention in the region’s seasonal labour challenges and attracted high profile national media coverage including a live broadcast on Breakfast TV and features on Stuff, RNZ and Newstalk ZB. The campaign was a collaborative effort right across the horticulture industry with support from the Ministry of Social Development and the Regional Skills Leadership Group. The campaign was hailed as a success by the Minister of Social Development and Employment during Question Time in Parliament.

Building on the success of the campaign, a new partnership with the seafood sector across Te Tauihu was established to deliver the 'Catch a Job' campaign which focused on job opportunities in our local seafood sector and made 36 successful direct job placements.

Business and Investment Attraction

The Intelligent Guardians (IG) event was delivered as part of TechWeek NZ to showcase how Nelson Tasman businesses are utilising science and technology to protect and prosper. Based on this success, we have become a strategic partner in the inaugural TEDx Nelson which will profile more great Nelson Tasman stories through the global TED platform.

Re-watch the Intelligent Guardians event

As part of the Intelligent Guardians event, selected businesses and media outlets with an interest in science, technology and sustainability were sent targeted pitches in the form of goodie boxes from Nelson Tasman and invited to take part in the virtual event. Feedback from the boxes and IG event/concept was very positive with direct contact from over half of the people who received an invite, multiple shares and mentions on social media and two resulting meetings to discuss opportunities for the region.

Over a dozen business case studies and in-depth interviews were conducted as part of a deep dive into the region’s business attraction proposition. These case studies are now being repurposed into content pieces for the region and pitches for media outlets to profile the region’s business story.

"The Intelligent Guardians platform has helped crystallise the movement for making sustainable business part of our region’s story to the world and the initiatives launched by the NRDA through the Project Kōkiri collaboration have ensured the region is capitalising on this opportunity and celebrating businesses who are actively contributing in this space."

– Florence van Dyke, Chia Sisters

"Just wanted to send a quick thank you for Monday night’s Intelligent Guardians event. It's evenings like this that helped my decision to stick around in Nelson, and - along with many others I'm sure - I'm grateful for the work that went into it!"

– Jennifer Webb-Bowen, Pics Peanut Butter

Stimulating Local Spending and Domestic Visitation

The high-profile 'We've Got This – Kei a Tātou' campaign showcased local businesses and regional offerings to over a million people by focusing on activating locals to tell our story. Widespread participation saw over 3,000 pieces of content created by locals and visitors across social media. The campaign videos were viewed over 362,000 times and the campaign featured in regional and national media.

This was followed by the 'Nelson Tasman Adventure Challenge', a gamified approach encouraging locals to explore their own backyard and share their stories with the world, which secured over 9,000 entries to over 100 regional challenges.

"It has prompted us to discover our own backyard - forcing us to do things we probably otherwise wouldn't have. Now when visitors come and stay we are armed with so much more to share with them. We've had fun over summer, as a family, challenging ourselves to get out and experience our home region."

– Adventure Challenge Participant

Social media engagement was significantly above the industry average, across Facebook and Instagram, with overall post reach of 2.4m and 2m respectively. Website visitation and engagement soared, with page views up 63% and the number of unique users up 49% on the previous year. This is on top of the 99% increase achieved last year.

Our sustained efforts pitching Nelson Tasman to national and international media continues to pay dividends with an earned media value for the region of over $5.2m. This does not include paid campaign media or press releases.

"I can’t thank you enough and I truly truly love working with the NRDA as you guys have been the light shining us through in these extremely challenging but promising times. It’s amazing how much coverage Nelson Tasman has been getting recently. You are a blessing to us!"

– Cristina Holopainen, Maruia River Retreat

Community and Major Events

COVID-19 continued to affect events over the year, despite this our major events programme has exceeded targets securing an ROI ratio of 33:1, well above target.

A key highlight of the year was hosting the Black Ferns v NZ Barbarians match combined with the Tasman Mako semi-final at a time when little rugby was being played around the world.

  • 18 Major economic events supported which brought a combined 15,597 out-of-region attendees
  • 15 Community events supported

Business Events

Through facilitation and liaison, we secured several business events for the 2021-22 year including the New Zealand Planning Institute conference. With 540 pax, this was the largest conference to be held in the region since 2014.

We submitted bids for specific conferences, including the Tourism Export Council of NZ which is secured for August 2022 with 320 pax over 3 days.

Business events exceeded targets despite ongoing staffing challenges for catering companies and venues, attracting in total over 2800 out-of-region delegates during January to March – 40% ahead of target. 98% of these delegates attended events outside of high season and above the target of 80%.

Visitor Destination Management

NRDA secured funding to develop the Nelson Tasman Destination Management Plan. Building on the strong foundation that NRDA has developed through years of support, association, and collaboration with individual operators in visitor industry, we have created a plan that will help the visitor sector navigate the ongoing COVID-19 challenges and strengthen the sector to support better outcomes for the region environmentally, socially and culturally, as well as economically.

We developed and launched the Zero Carbon Itinerary – unique in New Zealand. This collaborative effort between NRDA, local visitor sector operators and EKOS has seen increasing numbers of operators seeking to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. We are proud to have been nominated as a finalist in the 2021 New Zealand Tourism Awards, it has garnered significant national and international attention and high levels of media interest. The development of this holiday itinerary has been made possible because we have 20 tourism, hospitality and F&B businesses that are zero carbon certified – more than any other region in NZ. This has positioned Nelson Tasman as a leading region in the development of light-footprint travel.

"The Zero Carbon Itinerary is fantastic! I am sure everyone is telling you the same thing. Well done to you and your team! Things like this keep us on the radar for when things start to get moving again. How does the song go…."The future’s so bright….I’ve got to wear shades!"

– Royce Lock, YHA Nelson

We also continued to deliver a series of webinars which began during lockdown to provide support, advocacy, and strategic direction for the visitor sector during an incredibly challenging time. These calls featured up to 100 local businesses and included advocacy engagements with local MPs and Ministers.

"The support from NRDA throughout the most challenging period the visitor sector has ever experienced has been invaluable. From the crisis calls during lockdown to innovative initiatives such as the Zero Carbon Itinerary. The We’ve Got This campaign was the most impressive work I have seen out of this region in a very long time!"

– Brendan Alborn, AbelTasman.com

Regional Competitive Advantage and Regeneration Initiatives

As part of the regional projects pipeline, we supported multiple bids to central government for COVID-19 related investment including in the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme, Jobs for Nature and Shovel Ready Projects.

Under the guidance of the Project Kōkiri Leadership Group, NRDA developed the initial Nelson Tasman Economic Response Action Plan (12 months), the Nelson Tasman Economic Development Briefing and the draft Nelson Tasman Regeneration Plan (10 years) which mapped the region’s recovery from COVID-19, demonstrated joint up thinking across Nelson Tasman and provided an effective platform for central government investment into the region.

We were extremely proud to win the Economic Development NZ best practice award for collaboration for our work on Project Kōkiri.
"Project Kōkiri is a rare and admirable example of a region responding rapidly, collectively and creatively to immediate needs in ways that will also help the region’s long term transformation, as its plan describes. Its 'We’ve Got This' social media campaign is particularly inspired."

– Rod Oram, Business Commentator

The Food Factory / Mahitahi Colab food and beverage Co.Starters cohort

As part of our regeneration work, several collaborative initiatives were established to support key sectors, including:

  • A food and beverage specific Co.Starters cohort
  • A food and beverage marketing cluster for Expo 21
  • A horticulture cluster workshop exploring sector transformation and digital enablement
  • A horticulture cluster workshop exploring sector transformation and digital enablement
  • A capability development project to help identify and grow talent in-region across all sectors

Meet the Makers was held in May this year which saw the Food Factory / Mahitahi Colab food and beverage Co.Starters cohort come together at their course completion to present their delectable creations at a market place inside Pic's Peanut Butter World.

A review of the regional identity, proposition and competitive advantage was also undertaken with local collaboration partners which will inform the regional identity refresh, asset development and campaign activity for the coming year.

Service Performance and Financial Performance

Click the link below to view our Statement of Service Performance and Statement of Financial Performance for the year ended 30 June 2021.

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NRDA Nelson Tasman