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Grow Wairarapa.

Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy and Action plan

We know our region.  We know our people.  We know our future.

This is our strategy to lift the prosperity of our people, and
our plan to put the strategy into action.


Our future lies in adding value to what we produce, it lies in tourism and it lies in knowledge-intensive industries. It means developing: 

  • our people,

  • our housing

  • and our businesses,

and it needs the infrastructure to make it work – high-quality transport and reliable water supplies. 

And when it comes to our environment, it means trees – to grow our economy, provide jobs and protect our environment.

The best of rural and urban living

Wairarapa is our region, our people and our future. 
Change is taking place and we want to be in control of that change, and we want to be sure that those who find it difficult to keep up are not forgotten. 

This is our pathway forward – what is good for us is good for the region and for New Zealand.

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Programme at a glance

This diagram captures the whole programme in one picture. At the centre is the vision surrounded by the focus areas, then the action areas and finally the actions.
A full explanation of the logic for the choice of focus and action areas is contained in the report and in the appendix. The rest of the report details all aspects of this diagram including the proposed actions.

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Sectors: Added Value Food & Beverage, Tourism and Knowledge Intensive Industries

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Added-value food and beverage

We’re known for our wine and we’re known for our artisans, but too often our food and beverages are seen as a commodity. We need to add value to get more value. We’ve got our success stories, but we need more. 

Success means

  • Greater diversification into value-added primary products 

  • More enterprise-level businesses producing more exports


  • A food and beverage acceleration service to support businesses and help access investment

  • Food origin labelling to create and support our identity

  • A food connections working group to build links with food networks and researchers 

Focus on People

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Knowledge and skills

Skills are at the core of our strategy and action plan, but Wairarapa has a skills deficit across key areas. Meanwhile, rising living costs, particularly in housing, are forcing more people to skip pre-entry training and go straight from school to work. The opportunity is to provide training options that can be combined with employment and treated as part of the employee’s general development.

Success means

  • Increased knowledge and skills, and improved interest and participation in key areas 

  • An overall reduction in unemployment, with reduced numbers in the NEET category


  • Support YETE (Youth in Education, Training and Employment) to get long-term funding

  • Establish a skills working group to build connections with training providers

  • Continue school-business collaboration to grow the knowledge sector

Focus on Infrastructure

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Rail transport is a key to Wairarapa’s success. While the Government has committed funds to upgrade the track,  much more is needed, including passenger services throughout the day and weekends to boost visitor access. We also need the daily air link restored to boost business,  tourism and resilience. 

Success means 

  • An all-day passenger train timetable that links to key attractions and boosts tourism

  • An air passenger service reinstated on an ongoing 


  • More commuter capacity

  • An all-day service, including on weekends, to allow day trips and encourage visitors

  • A Hood Aerodrome development plan including a business case for infrastructure upgrades

Environment: Water and Trees

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Wairarapa is one of the largest forestry areas in New Zealand, with big tracts of exotic forest and significant farm forest woodlots. We are an obvious candidate to be a major player in the Government’s One Billion Trees programme. But forestry is vital for more than economic growth – 21% of the region’s land is erosion prone and we need riparian planting to protect water quality.

Success means

  • Expanded planting that will also stabilise erosion prone land and boost water quality

  • Expanded commercial planting for cross-over benefits such as for Manuka honey


  • Wairarapa lets the Government know it is seriously interested in the One Billion Trees programme

  • A working party is established to work on feasibility of increased planting

  • Develop a partnership with the regional council to develop the project

Working With Us

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“We're the threshold of the future”

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Can we work together?

Does your project align with the strategy? 

The Wairarapa Economic DeveloplemtnStrategy (WEDS) Steering and Governance Groups exist to govern and manage the implementation of the WEDS, and as part of this to also provide local input and oversight into applications for funding for local projects, including applications to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

The Steering Group will consider alignment of applications with the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy (WEDS) and will as appropriate facilitate the refining of individual and groups of proposals/applications to secure the best outcomes for the Wairarapa in regards to placement of resources and opportunities for the communities of the region.  The Steering Group will also make appropriate recommendations to the Governance Group on this basis.

Applications can be made directly to funders however working with the Steering and Governance Group can assist in placing an application that aligns with their criteria for decision making (being strong regional support for the project, among other factors), therefore improving the region’s chances of positive outcomes for applications.

A flow chart of the process for consulting with the WEDS Groups and making funding applications is included below.                                                      


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Full Strategy and Action Plan

Downloadable version of the full document

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