Talking business with Anthony Haas

Wairarapa Regional Development – Follow the MoneyWinston Ron and Shane

Shane Jones – Winston Peters – Ron Mark

After the announcement of the new government’s formation we contacted New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in search of indication of how the Wairarapa might put in its bid for funding improvements to the Wellington Wairarapa train service. Mr Peters led Talking Business to the New Zealand First media team and we passed their comments to Chris Laidlaw, chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Then, in November Shane Jones indicated that cabinet would be involved in progressing bigger projects.

Chris Laidlaw briefed incoming ministers on the case for improved train services on the Wellington Wairarapa line. Laidlaw was aware of the positions of New Zealand First and Labour MP’s and continues to interact with the new government.

Early Days

New Zealand First media spokesperson Chris Toban, said “As you can understand it is early days for the new coalition government although in the first 100 days we are putting in the building blocks for what we plan.

We are firmly committed to make regional economies such as that in Wairarapa, more productive.

In fact the regions are New Zealand First’s primary focus because we believe provincial New Zealand has missed out for too long.

We will work with regions such as the Wairarapa to identify and prioritise how best to utilise our investment approach.

We are establishing a $1 billion per annum regional development fund to fuel provincial growth. It’s a significant investment, and we are proud to have secured that. It will include significant investment in regional rail and other large capital projects.

New Zealand First has also secured the commitment to regionalise some Government services, such as the New Zealand forestry service. We are committed to a new planting programme—a hundred million trees a year, 1 billion over a decade.

It will help regenerate the regions and create vital jobs and new opportunities for any who want to work. Our initiative links directly to the Government’s actions on climate change.

The people of Wairarapa can be assured the government will also support producers and exporters and provide decent jobs for New Zealanders. There will be increased skills training and more research and development to add value to dairy and other products.”

Summitry Still Needed

Wairarapa resident Kieran McAnulty, newly elected Labour list MP, had initiated the Waitangi week 2017 economic summit for the Wairarapa. That initiative could be updated and extended with the support of New Zealand First MP’s such as Winston Peters, Shane Jones and Ron Mark and other local leaders. Local leaders clearly have work to do if they want to realise the opportunity posed by the Labour lead government’s regional development funding round.


Talking business with Anthony Haas

Funds available for local tourism

Alastair ScottWellington Masters Cycling

Tourism infrastructure whose move?

Tourism organisations and voters in the Wairarapa may be pleasantly surprised at New Zealand political parties’ willingness to fund tourism. The 2017 election campaign and budget has several headings that the local tourism leadership might study. For example the government has announced the infrastructure fund has $102 million dollars available for approved projects over four years. Have local authorities had discussions with political parties and government about lining up for funding for projects?

National Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott says the Hawkes’ Bay cycleway shows what can be done. Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said in addition to the new Tourism Infrastructure Fund there is a further $78m for the Department of Conservation to upgrade tourist facilities. Labour Mana MP and spokesperson for tourism Kris Faafoi stated “It’s time for the government to help ensure we deliver a world-class experience to tourists, without unfairly burdening local communities”. Labour released it’s policy and will establish a $75m a year Tourism and Conservation Infrastructure Fund to pay for projects that will improve the experience of visitors to New Zealand and enhance our natural environment, funded by a $25 per visit levy on international visitors.

Which Wairarapa agencies are already targeting such resources, or will be motivated to do so?

Central government is also willing to invest

For example they have been willing to invest in marketing initiatives in Australia such as this

“Australians motivated to pedal their way to a Kiwi adventure”

Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager for Australia, Tony Saunders, says 2017 builds on a successful cycling-led campaign last year to increase awareness of the unique experience a New Zealand cycling holiday offers. Hawke’s Bay trails were funded.

Locals may also find that the headings don’t produce budgets that meet local needs. Is government likely to fund enhanced accommodation? Could this tourism vote help fund better train transport?

Who needs investment?

One of our readers recently visited Stonehenge Aotearoa (see The operation looked as if it could do with some capital, and its owners looked as if they would benefit from more visitors.

Is this an example of a tourism facility calling out for the type of investment government, political parties and local tourism organisations could support more? Are there food enterprises that could benefit from closer links to tourism?


Lawrence Yule with considerable experience at the helm of local government New Zealand, and National party candidate, says infrastructure has been identified by the industry and local government as a major issue to ensure New Zealand remains an excellent destination and communities are not overwhelmed.

Government has shown it is willing to fund medium-sized projects such as toilets and parking, in councils with a low ratepayer base.

Local government New Zealand’s members have identified many projects for which they would like government funds. Have Wairarapa representatives spoken up emphatically enough to be included? Could it be that the tourism budget could help the Wairarapa think big?

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Growing older in Greytown

The now closed Ultimate Care facility in East Street

The retirement industry

The corporate sector is investing in aged care facilities. Those including Somerset and Ryman continue to choose places outside Greytown for their retirement village complexes.

The industry definition of retirement village is an assembly of facilities with some or all of the following; independent self-contained villas, assisted living serviced apartments, rest home, hospital and dementia units.

The majority of large retirement villages are now owned and operated by corporates with smaller community owned complexes, such as Arbor House, run by charitable trusts, church groups and local communities.

Smaller Greytown does not seem to be attractive to operators who provide a full range of facilities. The explanation may be the high capital cost and lack of a resourced population to buy into them. Cost to construct a large facility is much the same in any location in New Zealand. The cost to buy into a village is based on the prevailing property prices in the local area. Consequently Greytown’s small population base may not appeal to retirement industry corporates as having an attractive return. Is there some other option that real estate businesses might enable?

Local growth

The baby boomer population and parallel growth of corporate retirement village business has resulted in a much more sophisticated industry with corresponding regulatory environment, making it much more difficult for smaller operations to be viable. It also creates the opportunity to develop more niche operations.

Recently many smaller aged care facilities operated by local groups, charitable trusts, and private operators have closed, and are still closing due to higher overheads, changes in wage structures and much higher compliance costs.

Ropata Lodge in Lower Hutt illustrates how others dealt with viability challenges. The charitable trust went into liquidation however, a private operator was able to take over the facilities, restructure the operation and convert it to a DHB certified rest home. People involved with Ropata say it shows that to be successful, a rest home would require at least 40 rooms.

Greytown residents who may wish to remain close to friends, relatives and who need essential services, with niche operations perhaps based around the family home, marae, communal living, and community facilities could stay in the area.

Greytown could find ways to expand and operate Arbor House as the hub for services the community says they need. For instance cleaning, nursing, meals, personal care, lawn mowing, laundry, household maintenance and fire wood.

Stakeholders could come together to chart the way ahead. Failure to do this may see closure of places like Arbor House and oblige elderly locals to leave the area. Public meetings of stakeholders, including parliamentarians, councillors, the DHB, residents, families, Arbor House board, community organisations, and interested parties, discussing how to put flesh on these bones could be convened.

Thus, a strategic plan to get Arbor House in a strong financial position with existing plus expanded facilities needs to be developed. The physical constraints of expansion of Arbor House and the financing of any expansion are particular issues to be grappled with.

Now the election is over there is a need to be met. Who will take the initiative?

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Kieran McAnulty’s Labour offers regional funding

Kieran McAnulty


Labour candidate for the Wairarapa electorate Kieran McAnulty says “In some ways, a regular commuter service into the capital city is the envy of other districts. Wairarapa is well positioned to attract new residents and businesses due to our proximity and connection to Wellington. However, it is the success of local councils in promoting Wairarapa as a place to live and work that has lead to the train service no longer being fit for purpose. The three commuter services are oversubscribed, people using these services already exceed 2019 projections.

In the weekends, there are only two return services. This does not help Wairarapa’s potential as a tourism destination.

We need more improved capability for the commuter services and increased services off-peak, including weekends.

The easiest solution is for Central government to identify this as a priority and provide the funding required to complete maintenance of the track and upgrade services.

Andrew Little identified the Wairarapa rail service as an example of a project that could benefit from Labour’s Regional Development Fund.”

What would Labour offer for the Manawatu Gorge?

McAnulty says the news is a real blow. It affects Wairarapa, Tararua, Hawke’s Bay Palmerston North and Woodville, where residents and business owners facing uncertainty are screaming out for answers. They want to know what plans are available and these concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears.

When he visited Woodville after the announcement he faced shock and worry from business owners and workers. One business owner thought he was the MP, which he says, speaks volumes about current National mp, Mr Scott’s inactivity over the last 3 years.

While these alternative routes allow traffic to and from Manawatu, the closure of the gorge acts as a disincentive to make this trip. Attractions such as Tui Brewery and Pukaha Mount Bruce see a reduction in visitors when it is closed. This in turn affects businesses right down Wairarapa.

The candidate says he can see no reason why the Government doesn’t offer support to those business directly affected by the closure, as they do in Kaikoura.

A long-term solution for the Manawatu Gorge has been sought for years. Numerous examples of slips have affected the gorge in years gone by. The most notable of those was the 2011 slip which closed the gorge for 14 months. That slip cost $20m to fix, with a further $10m in upgrades or maintenance to alternative roads.

This type of expenditure is unsustainable. While the cost largely comes from NZTA’s emergency works funding, over time the cost of a viable solution would be easily met by the amount spent on fixing and preventing slips in the gorge.

2012 NZTA report highlighted alternatives to the gorge. The longer this is delayed the more expensive the solution while the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track receive far more traffic than they were designed for. In the case of Saddle Road, the costs of upgrading and maintenance now falls on NZTA. The Pahiatua Track however still falls to the Tararua District Council which places an unfair strain on what is a council with a very small rating base.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Gorge Slips add to Challenges of Trains

Kieran McAnultyChris LaidlawAlastair Scott

Labour’s regional funding may help Wairarapa

Mid year Talking Business’s columnist was asked by a reader to focus on challenges facing train services between Wairarapa and Wellington. Greater Wellington Regional Council chairperson Chris Laidlaw spelt out some of the challenges and suggested it was a topic suited to attention during the current election campaign. Kiwi Rail agreed there were challenges. Labour party leader Andrew Little spoke in Carterton on the state of the Wairarapa. We followed up with questions to the Labour candiate Kieran McAnulty whose views on trains and the gorge we report in this edition of the Greytown Grapevine and here on our website. Candidate McAnulty took some partisan pot shots at the National party mp for Wairarapa Alastair Scott. We started to let it be known we would welcome comments from all political parties on blockages facing transport in and around the Wairarapa.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairperson Chris Laidlaw says “The biggest [issue] is the inadequacy of the line on which minimum maintenance has been carried out for years in spite of regular requests to KiwiRail to include the work in its budget. We are repeatedly told that the business case for this work doesn’t stack up.”

A KiwiRail spokesperson told Talking Business “Funding for public transport is primarily an issue for Greater Wellington.”

Laidlaw says he has discussed both these issues with the three Wairarapa mayors and agreed a collective approach to the government on improving the line.

We now ask for the policies of relevant parties on issues such as train services and Manawatu Gorge replacement. We also ask what parties would say to the idea that they work together to try to find the solution to the train and gorge blockages.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Train Wellington

There is mayoral consensus on the need to improve rail services between Wellington and Wairarapa, however local parliamentary candidates have yet to make their voices heard.


The chairperson of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Chris Laidlaw told Talking Business “There are several issues which complicate the Wairarapa service. The biggest is the inadequacy of the line on which minimum maintenance has been carried out for years in spite of regular requests to KiwiRail to include the work in its budget”.

He says we are repeatedly told “the business case for this work doesn’t stack up”.

Media based opinion polling of Wairarapa residents say they would use trains to and from Wellington more often, if extra services existed.

Consumer demand

Some passengers say the present service is not up to scratch, and is poorly co-ordinated with Hutt line services at off-peak times. Passengers are sick of having to stand up on some services others don’t like being turned away with their bikes.

A Greytown woman who drives to and from Wellington on a Wednesday night would be happier to commute to her Wednesday singing practice by train. Others would like buses to link Greytown to the Sunday Wellington trains.

A social gathering of Carterton residents said they would like a carriage to include breakfast in the morning and gin and tonic on the way home. They called for train carriages to include wifi for passengers.

Bright ideas

With these bright ideas in mind a clutch of Wellingtonians suggested a Greytown entrepreneur could meet the train at Woodside, or elsewhere, and take tourists on a tour of the neigbourhood. Imagination and local knowledge could be used to design tours that feature shopping, dining, house inspections and short walks to Cobblestones museum and other features. Drinking laws need be taken into account.

Masterton resident Jo Waitoa-Hall echoed the sentiments of many others in Wairarapa when she said the weekend service was not good enough, and deterred people from travelling into Wellington. 

“It is frustrating that, in order to do a day trip on the weekend, we have to leave before 8am and don’t get back until after 8pm. It doesn’t work for young children.”

Where does the buck stop?

Greater Wellington Regional Council are very conscious of the build-up in peak time demand and are exploring the case for more carriages and facilities on peak services. Off-peak demand is being monitored and if a case for extra services can be genuinely made then we will act on that says Chris Laidlaw.


Chris Laidlaw says he has discussed both these issues with the three Wairarapa mayors and agreed a collective approach to the government on improving the line.


In a statement to Talking Business KiwiRail spokesperson said “KiwiRail has been working closely with GWRC on issues relating to the Wairarapa Line, including  the increasing need for maintenance due to ageing assets such as rails, sleepers, ballast and drainage on the line.”

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Summit leadership – Political support for economic development initiatives

Viv Napier

Mayor Viv Napier

How supportive are citizens for Wairarapa economic development? Former Masterton Mayor Bob Francis tells the story of how Juken Nissho wood processing factory in Carterton created employment to replace the freezing works. Maybe the leadership retired Mayor Francis took decades ago will be emulated by the mayors of Masterton, South Wairarapa and Carterton. Masterton Mayor Lynn Patterson, South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier and Carterton Mayor John Booth attended the 9th February 2017 Waitangi week economic development summit where the Masterton District Council attracted 40 businesspeople and officials to search for development ideas.

Will the ratepayers and other citizens give political support to economic development? The leaders will inevitably have to consider changes to the structure of local government, and budget allocations to support serious development initiatives.

Upper Hutt example

For an example of what can occur, readers need look no further afield than Upper Hutt to see that Council’s focus on the craft brewing industry and the commitment over a number of years of resources to support the private sector to grow an industry and create jobs.

If ratepayers do not support development Wairarapa communities may suffer from closures such as happened with the local freezing works, or challenges such as Dunedin is facing with the prospect Cadburys will close, costing more than 300 jobs. What happens if the dairy industry is turned into a sunset industry by badly managed effluent? Current Labour Party policy research into the future of work points to some industries with dim prospects. Sunset and sunrise industries should be anticipated. Some technologies decline, some flourish.

Telecommunications and computing industries show both features. Is the film industry a sensible sunrise industry for the Wairarapa? Will the local educational institutions equip the next generation with IT to make viable service industries?  Primary industries such as apples, wine, mushrooms, honey, stonefruit, kiwifruit, seeds, wood and livestock are amongst land uses occurring here and in neighbouring regions – which ones can grow more profitably here?

What will ratepayers support?

What will the ratepayers of Wairarapa do to head off a local crisis of closure, or to stimulate growth? Will there be public support for the summit initiative. Will lobby groups put their shoulders to the wheel, and join the search to attract businesses, be they agricultural enterprises or fee paying overseas students?

Desired outcomes from the Wairarapa economic development summit can be advanced in a multi-faceted programme.

The My Masterton programme, attracting Aucklanders, supported by real estate enterprises and the Masterton District Council also illustrates what can be done. Such initiatives can aim to attract asset rich, retiring Aucklanders, and other people with talent and skill.

The process for pushing Wairarapa growth has recently been Masterton led – but not owned. Who will accelerate the sales work to foster growth enterprises? What should be expected from the South Wairarapa District Council and its Mayor Viv Napier? What will local democracy push her or let her do?

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Challenges for Arbor House

Arbor House

Residential or Home Care?

Greytown’s Arbor House is asking how to respond to nation-wide challenges, says it’s Chairman, Dr. Tuckett.

Arbor House is an age-related care provider, established in 1986 by a local group. This group included Ed Cooke, solicitor with WCM Legal, and Dr. Doug Banks, who had been the Greytown GP until 1974. Dr. Rob Tuckett was the local GP in Greytown from 1974 until 1997. He has been Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Board of Arbor House since 2007.

This original group saw a need to provide a place within the community for “our frail elderly people and to establish a residence to be known as Arbor House” as its Trust Deed states. The existing, but then disused, building that had started as the Greytown Maternity Home, later Children’s Social Welfare Home, clearly fitted the bill, says Dr. Tuckett.

The Trust Deed set up a Board of 5-7 Trustees of whom one is appointed by the local council, one appointed by the local churches, and one by the local Service Clubs.

What developed was initially a Rest Home with capacity for 19 Residents. This was the shape of Arbor House until 2009. At that point, it became clear to the Board of Trustees that to provide for the increasing need in our community to care for more highly dependent residents they would have to change 10 of their beds to “Hospital Care Level”. At the time it was evident that there was a gradual decreasing need to provide care at rest home level. With the change to provide Hospital Level Care comes a Ministry of Health requirement for full cover 24/7 in the home with trained registered nurses. Inevitably this increased costs but maintained our service to the community to which we are committed.

However, as a not-for- profit community based trust, we have the real advantage that funds generated by residents are all applied to the running of Arbor House, says Dr. Tuckett.

Next Developments.

In 2012/13 it became clear to the Trustees that an establishment of only 19 beds was too small to be safely viable financially. As a result, a new wing of 6 fully equipped rooms at hospital level was added. This was the maximum that could be fitted in to the ground space of the original site on Main Street next to the Fire Station.

Now, with 26 rooms for residents and a potential for up to 16 of them at Hospital level, we have seen that Arbor House is fully able to meet the original vision of the Trust Deed as well as the needs of our community, with the reservation, of course, that the occupancy rate remains high.

However, the Chairman says it has become increasingly clear in recent months that again there are changing trends in the way age-related care is being provided. It is being noted nationally that occupancy has in fact been falling across the sector. We certainly see a definite decrease in the demand for rest home level care which is now obvious. At the same time the need for hospital level care is increasing. The new factor in the equation appears to be that the policy of District Health Boards favours “aging in place” (i.e. at home). This is resulting in a reduction in demand for facility based Aged Residential Care, says Dr. Tuckett.

This “contrived” reduction in demand must now start to threaten the future viability of many of the smaller providers of residential care around New Zealand if it continues. These homes, like Arbor House, are all greatly valued by their local communities. They are well run and homely. There are reasons to believe that already there are a number of the most highly dependent people now receiving home care who would be better served by having 24 hour care provided in a fully equipped residential home.

There is a need now that this developing situation must be properly recognised and addressed if we are to honour our commitment to the elderly in our community, says Dr. Tuckett.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Short Term Accommodation in Greytown

white swan

Is there enough accommodation?

Should you want to visit quaint Greytown and you are impressed…where will you stay?

A local take by a realtor is Greytown is “A country village with Metropolitan style”.

You may wish to lay your head within the village confines, close to the action or on a farm?

After you choose from almost 50 possibilities that we found, how difficult is it to practically access a place?

How to find out where you can stay?

Computer literacy is an optimum method, as that allows booking ahead. Some places will require full payment to guarantee your stay however.

We began online, who doesn’t these days? Wairarapa

Information for Greytown:

Under Backpackers only the 150 year old Greytown Hotel came up at $80.00 a night with $10 extra for a breakfast it allows ‘walk ins’ or online booking similar to a YHA reservation.

A good series of photographs are to be seen on this website.

Bed n Breakfast accommodation: of five places listed – most user-friendly and economical (starting at $80.00 for the Rustic cabin ) comfort costs more e.g. $140.00 Under the Totara Trees,Waiohine Gorge, which offers wheelchair access, also outdoor BBQ and option of having pets there, so long as they remain outside.

An interesting venue right in Greytown is the historic listed villa The Saddlery built 1868 that starts at $179.00 up to $240.00 and includes a full German breakfast. Online booking is prompt and easy for all venues listed on Destination Wairarapa..

Holiday Houses are five, one on a farm, one requires booking through Masterton I-Site.

Our google search came up with:

Greytown holiday homes, accommodation rentals, baches …

Results 1 – 32 of 32 – Greytown NZ holiday homes.Greytown accommodation – self catering holiday homes, houses, baches, beach houses, vacation rentals.

A visit to Greytown Information Centre uncovered, Jason’s Travel booklet, 2016 which suggests Greytown is a unique Victorian village well worth a visit, also telling us Papawai Marae was the first Maori Parliament. However no easy listing of current accommodation, which is ironic!

Not very useful, but Greytown Information Centre has been proactive and simply printed [as of March 2016], a list of accommodation. The format:

Name of place, address, contact telephone number and capacity as well as current charges and web addresses. There are no fewer than 47 possibilities including newly-opened main street motels.

So if you are traveling by and on impulse, decide to stay, the Greytown Information Centre has a good hard copy resource.

Talking business with Anthony Haas


Aviation potential for Greytown and its region

piper cub

Piper Cub – potential!


Destination Wairarapa seeks to develop tourism in the region.

Local aviation specialists believe they can support Destination Wairarapa by enhancing local aviation activities.

The region’s other attractions include Pukaha Mt Bruce wild life sanctuary, wine trail Masterton through to Martinborough, artisan food and crafts, Rotary Martinborough Fair, the Tui Brewery, boutique accommodation, Aratoi art gallery, Gate to Plate, Toast Martinborough, Kokomai creative arts festival, Chocol’Art festival, International drag car meets, Golden Shears, Wings over Wairarapa and WWI aircraft collection.

Discussions, plans and actions.

Masterton’s Hood aerodrome Sky Sports’ Tandem Parachuting, Wairarapa Helicopters, RNZAF Strikemasters and the incorporated society NZ Sport and Vintage Aviation have been in discussion to commence unique flying activities. The plan is for a visitor to be able to take a Tandem Parachute sky dive, ride in a helicopter, a Tiger Moth or Strikemaster jet, and visit the local internationally renowned vintage aircraft collection.

John Bushell anticipates implementation of this plan by spring 2016.

The April 2016 unveiling of the Greytown Soaring Centre (GSC) at the gliding airfield at Papawai, supported by South Wairarapa District Council, the Papawai marae, Wellington Gliding and Gliding Wairarapa designed to attract gliding enthusiasts from around the world to experience some of the unique gliding conditions in Greytown and its surrounding region. Another of the GSC volunteer team’s visions is to encourage youth gliding camps and Maori cultural experiences for local and visiting students.

Potential of Masterton airport is largely underutilised

The potential of Masterton airport is largely underutilised, says John Bushell, Greytown aviation specialist and a member of the Soaring Centre. Initiatives are underway to unleash the potential of the airport, and combined with the Greytown Soaring Centre at Papawai to build aviation tourism in the Wairarapa.