Grow Waitech: Bringing the Metaverse to the Wairarapa

In October 2021, the Wairarapa RSLG members approached members of the local technology and business community to participate in defining and leading a strategy to understand the skills, current and future that are required for growth in the Wairarapa.

This led to a meeting in November to learn further about how they could participate and build connections, build rapport and build towards shared goals for workforce (and workplace) development in the region. These local business leaders reported that the problems they faced with respect to skill availability had not changed and they were frustrated by the lack of ability to influence national education to meet regional needs, so they needed to change the approach.

By taking advantage of market demand for high-end technology resources and the growing trend for offshoring our New Zealand talent due to higher salaries and lack of affordable living in larger centres, puts the Wairarapa in a strong position for offering the opportunity to relocate while being on the backdoor to our Creative Capital, Wellington. A similar strategy is already being implemented by the deep South and the Wairarapa can also play a part.  

But for us to play, we have to pick a “game”.

How do we play?

This is not straightforward, but we have to do something different. The past two years have seen a massive growth in online entertainment, with a similar increase for online interaction. Those of us that have been working from home while others in the house, chat to mates, watch Netflix or play Counter Strike or Roblox understand.

While we were playing, meeting, watching and saying “hi” online during lockdowns, New Zealand’s video games industry created 222 new jobs. Worth over $250 billion annually, video games are the largest sector of the entertainment industry worldwide and New Zealand is already home to established and globally successful studios. 

But these studios are struggling to acquire and retain talent due to the higher salaries, higher disposable incomes and proportionately cheaper housing in other countries. Or they struggle to keep them because someone can work in Los Angeles but be based in Whanganui.

With our wide open spaces and great connectivity, maybe we, the Wairarapa, could help. Maybe we could offer studios the opportunity to work in the Wairarapa, and in parallel offer local people the opportunity to participate and work for these studios. First by understanding what the studios need, then understanding what talent we have here and creating the “platform” for the studios and the Wairarapa people to work together. Not just “coders”, but artists, musicians, video technicians, anyone who has content creation or ones and zeroes at the heart of what they do.

Why should we play?

In New Zealand the gaming industry is growing and has the potential to do so much more.  In 2021, the 12 largest studios earned 91% of the year’s revenue and they employed 77% of the workforce. In terms of productivity the sector earned $285k per employee in 2021. The industry’s average compound annual growth rate since 2014 is 34% per annum. The potential of such continued growth creates benefits across New Zealand, as digital businesses can, and increasingly are,  based in the regions as much as the main centres. This is why we should play.

If we create a virtual forum for understanding and growing technical entertainment talent in the Wairarapa, this could lead to creating an educational and occupational shared workspace. Establishing the workplace, means being able to offer studios the opportunity to relocate. Relocation can be encouraged with regional development (central) funding.

Does this solve the need for more tech savvy accounts clerks, sales people and office managers, no, not directly. But if we can attract high net worth roles to the region that will bring opportunity for others, and could establish training locations for a range of professional services roles in the Wairarapa. 

If you would like more information or join the Grow Waitech group, please contact us here.

What do we do next? (what is the "game"?)

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Step into Virtual Reality, Gaming and the Metaverse Information Session

Recently, our Grow WaiTech Group ran an information session at the Carterton Event Centre with some exciting NZ and global leaders. At this session, we got to hear about what is happening in the gaming and online entertainment industries, the new economies, jobs, and how to be a part of it.

We now want to know what does the community want to learn or do next, please share your thoughts on what you want to learn or do by clicking the link below.

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