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.


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.

Talking business with Anthony Haas

Building on local achievements

Greig photo

Internationally renowned potter lived in Greytown. Photo from Wairarapa Times. Their article can be found here Potter’s work heading to Te Papa.

An exhibition of pottery by the late James Greig opened in early December 2016 and ran for three months in the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt. Rhondda Greig, his widow and an artist has cared for James’ work since he died in Japan 30 years ago. The couple and their two children had lived first in Maungakaramea, Northland, before they moved in 1968 to Greytown where he set up his first Wairarapa studio and kiln. In 1970 they moved to neighbouring Carterton rural land where Rhondda still lives.

Collectors’ items

Much of James Greig’s pottery is in public and private collections, including a substantial portion in Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand. They are also held in the UN Headquarters in New York, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His work has been widely exhibited in Japan. James, like many other New Zealand potters, was influenced by notable Japanese potters, such as Kanjiro Kawai and Yu Fujiwara. I became aware of the respect Japan had for James Greig, and how his work put New Zealand on the Japanese map.

I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, and moved quickly to report for the Japanese and New Zealand governments and business leaders on the work and death of this man influential Japanese regarded as a distinguished potter. It was on one of my returns home to Pahiatua that then Masterton Mayor Bob Francis said that, as a local boy, I should help the economic development of the Wairarapa by fostering linkages to Japan. It was at that time that Mayor Francis negotiated successfully to attract forestry major Juken Nissho Ltd to the Wairarapa.

Potter Grieg book being written in Greytown

Rhondda Greig has also made arrangements with a Greytown researcher/writer, Dr Polly Cantlon to write a book on James Greig. Greytown photographer John Casey has been commissioned to do photography for the book.

The community and its leaders could build on the foundations the Greig family have established for the profile of Greytown and its neighbours. James Greig’s pottery is an asset on which linkages could be built, profiling the place where international-standard artworks have been created.



Talking business with Anthony Haas

Business investment, attraction and retention summit


The case for an early 2017 Wairarapa business summit becomes more compelling as we look beyond the 7.8 strong earthquake that shook Wellington. 

The Masterton district economic development programme was developed to further enable industry lead activity focused on strengthening Masterton’s economy.   A key driver of the programme is to strengthen the “culture of collaboration” between industry representatives, councils and other key stakeholders in creating more prosperity.

Local government and business leaders discussed a summit after Waitangi weekend 2017 to build on the Masterton district economic development programme. The activity aims to further enable industry lead activity focused on strengthening Masterton’s economy.

The Wellington regional economic development agency (WREDA) advocates a regional approach, targeting food and beverage, Chinese supermarkets, aviation and water business partnerships. WREDA’s Masterton based Geoff Copps emphasises “what’s good for Wairarapa is good for Wellington” – more leaders said the regional economic programme should focus on Wairarapa, not just Masterton”.

At a business investment, attraction and retention workshop on 31 October 2016 in Masterton, leaders identified opportunities with iwi participation, the investment arm of local councils and trusts, commitment to innovation and transparent communication. The leaders say the region needs a focus on technology and mobile talent – “people who can live anywhere and do what they do”.

Masterton mayor Lynn Patterson was to connect with other councils in anticipation of the summit. Masterton’s CEO Pim Borren and economic development adviser Kieran McAnulty see three prongs to the development thrust – education, agri-business and business attraction. Among the contributions Masterton offer to foster a “can do culture” are “pre-development conversations” and “delivering innovative solutions” – illustrated by the establishment of a call centre. MDC wishes to meet with the Iwi commercial board and determine how they want to be engage.

What’s good for Wairarapa is good for Wellington

Leaders identified opportunities with the investment arm of local councils and trusts. There are opportunities in commitment to innovation and transparent communication. The leaders say the region needs a focus on technology and mobile talent – people who can live anywhere and do what they do. One of the workshop’s tangible ideas was to attract foreign students. Another idea was contacting Wellington firms who could potentially relocate to Wairarapa.

Next steps were to include decision making on how to establish the right governance support for the programme overall, understanding the potential cost of the structure and for individual initiatives such as the development of a strategy. And then the big earthquake struck!

Coping with the earthquake

The development of the Wairarapa economic development strategy, summit, cooperation and action could be applied to help cope with the earthquake and aftermath that made some Wellington buildings unsafe.

Town, country, transport and other infrastructure to complement Wellington’s recovery could be developed in the Wairarapa. Central government and other interested parties could discuss a recovery option that capitalised on the complementarities of Wellington and the Wairarapa.

There are typically six trains and buses a day linking Wellington Wairarapa railway stations and homes and offices – some only an hour away. Commuters go from Wairarapa urban and rural lifestyle blocks to the many Wellington offices that meet their needs. Commuters could come from Wellington to use the Wairarapa services they need.

There is Wairarapa land close to rail stations and roads, capable of being zoned and developed for offices, educational institutions, houses and other services. Local and central government officers, developers, builders, financiers and other key players could confer about building to meet the needs of central government as well as the other purposes identified in the 31 October workshop, and relevant to post earthquake policy making that could be explored at the summit 2017 after Waitangi weekend. Some of the thinking could be short term, some could be reflected in the Masterton, South Wairarapa, Carterton, Wellington and relevant other long term community council ten year plans – and policies for central government.

The DecisionMaker Talking Business column has been researching opportunities for the economic development of the Wairarapa, supports the summit thinking and offers the idea of a post earthquake development strategy.



Talking business with Anthony Haas

Evans …converting effluent to energy


European technology that converts milk and meat processing plant effluent into self- contained waste consuming and energy generating plants is now available in New Zealand.

A Talking Business Grapevine correspondent reported this claim from Napier industrialist Ken Evans to a Greytown woman horticulturalist living next to a cow farm. Evans said the technology allowed milk and meat processing plants to become their own standalone waste treatment units with the added advantage of these plants using the waste so consumed as their own source of energy.


The horticulturalist called on Evans to answer more questions, such as the negative impact of many cows compacting paddocks, the practicalities of big cow sheds, collecting effluent from cows, and more that readers might comment on.

As an example Evans cited large scale milking centres in Europe that were self-sufficient in power simply because all the waste they generated was converted into electricity.
He said that the era in which factories could discharge their waste in any volume or in any proportion into the public domain should have ended many years ago. It was now time to apply a readily available solution, and one widely used internationally, he said

Preventing waste getting into the water system

The problem he said was that there had not been the concerted nationwide will to do something about process waste finding its way into the water system.

The Napier industrialist said this was itself a by-product of uncertainty about the ability of technology to cope with the problem. “You look at the situation today in which vehicles that drive themselves are now on the roads. Yet we still have copious amounts of concentrated waste matter allowed to penetrate the nation’s water system.”

Evans said that waste-to-energy plant technology in primary processing had been allowed to be placed in the “too hard” basket.

He said that the conservation lobby had allowed itself to become over-focused on international issues at the expense of seeking solutions to problems in what he described as the nation’s “back yard.”

Evans said that he would now ensure that milk and meat processors in New Zealand were acquainted with this waste-to-energy solution that was so widely used in Europe. His objective he said was to make New Zealand’s processing plants their own waste consumers, and thus their own energy suppliers.

It was, Evans said, a relatively low cost solution, and one with its own pay-back. “This proven technology was now readily available in New Zealand backed by specialists with the experience to install it”.

At least one neighbouring Greytown horticulturalist, with ties to the conservation lobby, wants to be convinced.