Talking business with Anthony Haas

pastoral paddock


Strategy for land-based economy

The Masterton (Wairarapa) Economic Development Programme has an aim of having a vibrant, happy community with a strong and sustainable economy.

Implicit in this is the concept of population growth based on the premise that a greater population will generate more economic activity and enable more investment in community infrastructure.

The 3 strands of activity in the economic development programme are:

  • Industry Growth – initial focus is primary sector and in particular cropping
  • Education – as an industry in its own right and as an attractor of economic activity
  • Business and Investment Attraction – including a “business friendly” Local Government sector

The proactive efforts in recent time have revolved around the “My Masterton” campaign. This has been domestic and aimed at the “lifestyle” benefits and lower costs as opposed to economic opportunities.

At present there is no explicit activity targeted at the skills and talent required to make the outcomes possible. This includes any activity around migrants both domestically or from outside NZ.

There are migrant worker populations in the region at present including seasonal workers from the Pacific under the RSE programme.


To get the Masterton (Wairarapa) leaders to endorse/support/action the development of an explicit Skills and Talent component to the programme for Wairarapa that complements the regional and national activity already in place. This includes being engaged with activity elsewhere in the Wellington region (WREDA).


There is the opportunity for Wairarapa to develop a local flavour to any such programme that does not preclude any migrants but does a have a focus on meeting the specific labour market needs of the region.

It is logical that any such focus relates to the labour needs of our land-based economy and supporting activity.

In comparison to the rest of the Wellington region, Wairarapa has a clear differentiation. This makes the total regional picture more diverse as to what it has to offer any migrants.

In addition to the current labour needs of the land-based industries, when the Water Wairarapa project is developed, there will be an increased demand for skilled land-based workers that the region will struggle to fill. This increase in migrants meeting labour needs when large scale water projects are developed is a well-documented outcome.

It is also well documented that regions who plan ahead for such an increase in migrants are better able to minimise the risk of community dislocation.

This raises the two issues related to the migrant programme:

  1. The attraction of migrants to meet regional labour needs
  2. The support structures that are in place to ensure that migrants are welcomed and integrated successfully into the community and are able to be productive.

Clearly, No. 2 can be put into action immediately to improve the services available to the existing migrants including seasonal workers.


Possible Action Plan:

  1. Masterton (Wairarapa) Economic Development Programme leaders adopt the subject of Skills and Talent attraction as a subset of the Business and Investment Attraction work stream and support as a focus for their activity.
  2. That any activity is coordinated with any wider Wellington Regional activity including the proposed relationship with Immigration NZ.
  3. That some analysis/evaluation is undertaken of the existing support structures in place for new Skills and Talent to Wairarapa.
  4. That some analysis is undertaken of the immediate, short-term and medium term employment shortages in Wairarapa with a focus on land-based industries.
  5. The outcomes of points 1-4 are used to inform the development a pro-active programme of work to attract suitable skills and talent should the data indicate that workforce shortages exist now or will occur in the future.


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