Economic Development News: November 2022

Published on 16 November 2022


Seaweed growing pilot benefits Coromandel Harbour

The pilot project for farming our native brown kelp is off to an exciting start of what could become a new ocean farming sector for our district’s aquaculture industry.

The pilot project for farming our native brown kelp is off to an exciting start of what could become a new ocean farming sector for our district’s aquaculture industry.

EnviroStrat, a natural resource sector advisor and impact investment project developer, is almost a year into a $5 million, three-year pilot project using seaweed plants grown in a custom-built nursery in Tauranga and planted in consented aquaculture space south of Coromandel Town, and off Ponui Island.

The goal is to establish economically viable ocean farming with an environmental purpose by propagating the key native kelp species known as Ecklonia radiata.

The brown kelp is an important species in the ecosystem and has never been harvested from the wild.

"What's really historic about this pilot, is this is the first time in New Zealand that we've had Ecklonia grown in a hatchery and put onto a farm," says EnviroStrat CEO Dr Nigel Bradly.

"What we're seeing now, we hope, is the start of something exciting, where we're able to help ocean farmers create a supply chain with seaweed as a part, or all, of what they do."

The plants were grown from reproductive tissue sourced from wild seaweed in the area and did not alter the genetic makeup of the parent plant.

Aquaculture businessman and iwi representative Harry Mikaere, based in Manaia just south of Coromandel Town, says, “Growing native seaweed is an opportunity to build resilience into the oyster and mussel farming sector, which is currently handicapped by the availability of mussel spat from the wild.”

Our Council recognises the importance of aquaculture to our district, the region and the nation. One way we are involved is through our Economic Development arm, which facilitates and hosts a regular aquaculture forum with support from Waikato Regional Council.

Click here to see the latest Country Calendar story about seaweed farming in the Coromandel.

Construction begins on Kōpū Marine Precinct

Land-based work on the $15.3 million project to build a commercial wharf, commercial boat slipway, recreational boat ramp, parking and new access along King Street is underway. The first step is to form the King Street access road and associated culvert works.

Contractor Fulton Hogan has fenced off the site and begun to remove vegetation. The Hauraki Rail Trail through the site remains open, with safety gates and signage in place requiring cyclists to dismount to cross. The project ecologist, with representatives of Ngāti Maru and Ngaati Whanaunga, has conducted a survey of Banded Rail.

“This is going to make a huge difference to the Thames community, the district and beyond,” says Laurna White, Economic Development and Communications Group Manager. “We should see this part of the district take off in the next five years with waterfront development and housing, thanks to this landmark project.”

Construction of the wharf is expected to begin in March 2023 and the entire project should be completed by about May 2024.

Coromandel hero wins Outdoor Access Champion award

Coromandel Town local Ally Davey has received the Outdoor Access Champion award from Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, for her work with the Spirit of Coromandel Trust.

The Trust was set up in 2000 by Andy Reid and the late Keith Stephenson. It funds opportunities for people, particularly youth, to access outdoor activities. After 20 years of fundraising, the Trust started building Ride Coromandel Bike Park on an ex-landfill site in 2020, with Ally at the helm as volunteer project manager.

The Park is a hit and draws riders in from outside the region. It’s been called the little park with a big heart, and Ally is most proud of the difference it’s made for young locals.

"Every time I go to the park, there are different kids from different diversities, of all different levels. I'm like, here's a helmet, here’s a bike – just ride. And they’re grinning from ear to ear. We just give them what we can and give them a little bit of time,” she says.

Ally coordinates access for new trails and covers funding, marketing and media. She also believes in a hands-on approach. She collaborated with the Department of Conservation and local engineering student Ben Creemers to design the first kauri dieback cleaning station for bikes; and often rolls up her sleeves to help with the practical work – such as helping to plant the park’s 20,000 kauri trees. She sometimes even drives the diggers.

All along, Ally stays humble and credits the wider team for the park’s success and this award.

"It's not just about me, it's the recognition of the team behind it. It's really cool to get that recognition for the Trust as well," she adds.

Our Council has supported the Bike Park initiative by co-funding the Park through the local Coromandel-Colville Community Board grants, along with marketing and promotion.

Click here to find out more about the Coromandel Bike Park.

Hauraki-Coromandel Biking Strategy

Along with 30 others around the country, our Regional Destination Management organisation, Destination Coromandel, was recently given the go-ahead through government funding to find ways to stimulate regional demand and build capability for new tourism experiences. In our area, mountain biking was identified as one of the key activities that would meet these objectives.

The Whangamatā Mountain Bike Park benefitted with funding to build local trails as well as for track maintenance. Another area of investment was to support the Coromandel Trails Collective in the development of a biking strategy to cover the Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel districts.

The draft strategy is a collaborative approach, developed by the bikers of our region, towards creating a nationally significant biking destination.

Click here to read the Draft Hauraki Coromandel Biking Strategy.

We'd love to hear what you think, and appreciate all your comments before it is presented to Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel District Councils in the new year: Give your feedback here

Events season building

The summer event season kicks off in November, starting with Steampunk Punk Thames last week and Repco Beach Hop from 23-27 November, including the Repco Beach Hop Thames Day Out on 24 November.

“We are also seeing an increase in applications for our annual events,” says Kirstin Scarrott, our Council’s District Events Coordinator.

There are Christmas Parades, summer galas, school fund raisers and market days. And this year sees two new events coming to Mercury Bay, with a one-year resource consent being granted for a music event at Buffalo Beach Reserve on the 5 January and another music event at a private property in Matarangi on the 28 January.

Although the resource consents have been granted, there are still a few things that need to be signed off for these events before they get the full green light.

Greenstone Entertainment are also returning to Whitianga this year with a fantastic international line-up including ZZ Top, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Stone Temple Pilots and The Angels.

For further event information see our Council Events page

If you’re looking to hold an event or want some advice in navigating our Council’s processes, get in touch with Kirstin – | 027 201 7918.

Thames Spatial Plan adopted by Council

The Thames Spatial Plan was adopted by our Council in October 2022.

This is a non-statutory document that sets out the long-term vision for how, why and where we want Thames and our surrounding areas to grow for the next 30 years and beyond.

The Spatial Plan is a directional document that provides a powerful signal for government investment as well as an evidence base for subsequent Council decisions.

“It will help us plan for future prosperity and identify areas for growth and change, while helping to promote the aspirations of our district's iwi,” says Economic Development Lead Mitchell King.

The next step is working out an Implementation Plan for some of the areas of focus, so we can include it in our budgeting for our next Annual Plan and 2024-2035 Long Term Plan.

Food and drink producers - Register your interest for our Coromandel Food Trail Guide

The 2023 edition of the Coromandel Food Collective’s Food Trail Guide is underway and receiving a fresh new look in preparation for the year ahead.

Our Council’s popular guide has been a mainstay for local food and beverage producers over the years, helping to promote niche products that are grown or produced on the Coromandel – so if you think your homegrown offerings should be on the menu, now’s the time to get in contact with us.

From artisan beer and gin, specialty cheeses and tantalising condiments to succulent seafood and menus championing local produce, our 2023 Coromandel Food Trail Guide is the perfect way to showcase the delicious offerings unique to our region.

“Despite recent setbacks for the hospitality industry created by COVID, the Coromandel needs to continue to build on its reputation as a destination for food lovers. We can be very proud of the quality and creativity of our locally produced food, products and beverages,” says Laurna White, Economic Development and Communications Group Manager.

“The guide gets a lot of interest from media and the hospitality industry, so this is a great way for our local producers to get the message out about all that we can offer as a foodie destination.” 

Register your interest before Tuesday 20 December, 2022

To be considered for inclusion in the 2023 Coromandel Food Trail Guide, your business needs to be either making or selling local homegrown products and/or produce.

If you’d like to be considered for inclusionplease register using our online form here, sharing your business name and the details requested, before Tuesday 20 December.

If you have any questions, please contact Cathy Spencer on

A downloadable version of the new guide will be available next year online, at Destination Coromandel, as well as hard copies at information centres and our Council offices.

Our Coromandel Magazine

The 10th anniversary special edition of "Our Coromandel Magazine" is out now. 

Check out our new Mayor, Len Salt, and the new and returning elected members from the 2022 local elections. Plus, a look back at the last 10 years, what's on for the summer of 2022-23, and a round-up of Council projects and activities.

We're distributing hard copies to our Council service centres, our District Libraries and visitor information centres around the district, so if you live in the Coromandel come by and pick one up. We post copies directly to our ratepayers who don't live in the district, so they can find out what they're missing by not living here.

Our economy: An economic forecast by Infometrics

The battle to get inflation back under control, both globally and in New Zealand, is set to stunt economic growth throughout the next two years.

The latest forecasts published by Infometrics see New Zealand’s official cash rate being increased to 4.5 per cent in early 2023, a full percentage point more than was expected just three months ago. Higher mortgage rates will drag household spending growth down to an average of just 1.1 per cent per annum during 2023 and 2024 and flow through into weaker outcomes throughout the domestic economy.

“Demand needs to be reined in to reduce how stretched resources are throughout the economy and to bring inflation under control,” says Infometrics Chief Forecaster Gareth Kiernan. “The effects of skills shortages and supply chain disruptions have been amplified by excessive spending over the last two years, and inflation is set to persist outside the Reserve Bank’s target band until the end of 2024. Wage and pricing pressures will only ease when demand softens, and businesses have to compete harder to make sales.”

Infometrics forecasts an uncomfortable couple of years for households. House prices have already fallen 12 per cent from their peak in late 2021 and will remain under downward pressure throughout 2023, as mortgage rates rise towards 6.5 per cent by the middle of next year and further limit the amount of debt buyers can take on.

Mortgagee sales also become an increasing risk with interest rates at these levels. The unemployment rate will also push up to 4.2 per cent by March 2024 and climb to about 5.0 per cent by mid-2026. This lift equates to an increase of almost 60,000 in the number of people who are unemployed, although it is likely to be caused by sluggish growth in job numbers that fails to keep up with improved growth in the labour force, rather than any significant redundancies being implemented by employers.

Click here to read the full report.

Our latest economic data