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Economic Development


The overall aim of Council’s Economic Development function is to facilitate economic development within the District and to promote social wellbeing by improving employment prospects in the District. Strategic Goals are:

  • Council will support achievement of critical social and economic outcomes in the Ruapehu District through partnerships.
  • Council will support achievement of the Wanganui – Rangitikei – Ruapehu Regional Economic Development Plan, and its performance targets, and maintain strong alliances for achievement with partners including iwi.
  • Ruapehu will be marketed and support its tourism sector to become recognised as the North Island’s premier all-season outdoor recreation centre for both international and domestic visitors.
  • Ruapehu will effectively market the area’s natural and cultural assets to improve visitor experience.

A Council activity that targeted both community and economic development was strongly supported by the community during the Future Ruapehu Community Outcomes 2005 consultation. The number of desired outcomes that relate to both economic and community development indicates the importance of this activity to the District's residents. The community signalled that it supported Council's involvement in activities for which there were no other providers of the same service. Council has the mandate for involvement but does not get the signal that the community wants to greatly enhance financial investment into economic development. This guides the Council toward a strategic approach of forming partnerships in both funding and delivery. Click here to view the full list of Community Outcomes.


Regional Partnership Programme and RED Trust

Ruapehu District Council has a strong commitment to economic development in its region through partnerships. In October 2005, Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with both Wanganui and Rangitikei District Councils, eleven iwi partners in the three regions, and Central Government, to form the Ruapehu – Wanganui – Rangitikei Regional Partnership Programme (RPP). The RPP was guided around the Regional Economic Development Plan 2002. This Plan outlined a number of regional economic priorities, which were: (a) Workforce readiness, (b) Regional business brokerage, (c) Realising land potential including land-locked areas, (d) Regional visitor presence, and, (e) Effective roading infrastructure to stimulate business growth.

To assist the RPP to deliver on these priorities, the RPP formed the Regional Economic Development (RED) Trust of council and iwi representatives. The RED Trust’s Statement of Intent Performance Measures are aimed at growth in employment, number of businesses, and household incomes, that are derived from the Regional Economic Development Plan 2002. 


Te Kahui Tupua

A major project being undertaken by the RPP and RED Trust is the Tourism Major Regional Initiative (MRI) as a partnership with the Government through significant project funding by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (some $2 million), Council funding ($40,000 annually from Ruapehu and Wanganui District Councils, and $20,000 from Rangitikei District Council), as well as significant in-kind funding by many parties. The Tourism MRI has developed the brand called Te Kahui Tupua which highlights the cultural and historic experience offered in these areas of New Zealand which together form the North Island’s premier outdoor recreation region.

Te Kahui Tupua Logo

Explanation from Te Kahui Tupua: “The Maori of Ruapehu, Wanganui and Rangitikei named the central plateau’s mountain area Te Kahui Tupua, the Sacred Peaks. It's a mythical, spiritual land, presided over by vast mountains and woven together by the three sacred rivers of Maori legend: the Whanganui, Whangaehu and the Rangitikei. A raw and remote triangle of tumultuous rivers, misty gorges, volcanic peaks and deeprooted culture. A 'quiet earth' that reveals its secrets only to those who take the time to listen. And you should listen. For Te Kahui Tupua can tell you many stories – from the brooding giant of the Central Plateau, Mt Ruapehu, across the scorched expanse of the Tongariro, to the mystical velvet forests beyond. Legends of a land and its people. Told through ancient carvings and rituals handed down through the generations. Te Kahui Tupua beckons... come, it's time to make your journey, to choose your pathway, and to experience your story.”

Te Kahui Tupua commissioned a Visitor Survey in 2009 and won a TIANZ Tourism Ward in 2010 (see Links below for further information).

Te Kahui Tupua has now been transferred to an incorporated society, made up of Regional Tourism Organisations, Iwi and Ambassador businesses.  Contact Details: C/- Wanganuui District Council, PO Box 637, Wanganui 4500.


Ruapehu Growth Assumptions

Ruapehu has seen 381 new houses built since 1997, with 77 in the 2007/08 year alone. This may not sound a lot to people living in very populous areas, but it represents a significant rise in interest in building and owning property in the Ruapehu District. Whilst resident population figures remain static, or rise very slightly in some areas, the population of ratepayers is steadily growing due to people building holiday homes here. The investment is being driven by people realising that Ruapehu is the ‘best cost’ location to World Heritage and National Parks, Whanganui River boating, skifields and stunning walking and biking tracks. ‘Best-cost’ means that Ruapehu is the closest location to these wonders at the best land prices.

The RED Trust commissioned research from BERL in 2008 (Economic Profile and Projections for the River Region) which demonstrated that growth in economic activity could be based on historic trends (what has always happened), or a neutral scenario (in which the region grew at the same rate as national trends). There is debate over which scenario to use, and Council must adopt a fair sense of realism. However, the activities of Council will target achievement of the more optimistic ‘neutral scenario’ which projects 677 new jobs from 2007 to 2026 with most growth in the tourism support sector, and GDP increase by $397 million from $460 million in 2007 to $857 million in 2026.

What this highlights is that there is a significant gap between the growth rates of Ruapehu industries, compared with the rest of New Zealand. This is an opportunity as there is significantly more development in the tourism, hospitality and accommodation sectors possible before saturation is reached. Having a well established winter industry and a growing summer industry, and located on the alternative North-South Highway that avoids the congestion of State Highway 1 around the Desert Road and Taupo areas, this District has tremendous investment potential. 


Regional Tourism Organisation

The Regional Tourism Organisation (Visit Ruapehu) and Visitor Information Centres, are functions for the stimulation of growth in the tourism sector, as well as having local community support functions. The District is positioned as the North Island’s premier outdoor recreation centre of National and World Heritage Parks, rivers, ski fields and a growing network of trails. The RTO supports the delivery of the joint brand of Te Kahui Tupua linking the tourism infrastructure of Ruapehu, Rangitikei and Wanganui and highlighting to international guests the significant features of all three regions. In 2008, Council reviewed its involvement in both the RTO and Visitor Information Centres and confirmed that they were an essential part of its economic and community development strategy. However, Council was not convinced that it could deliver the services as a department of Council better than people who worked in the industry. Therefore Council retained the functions but decided to contract them out under service performance agreements and bulk funding arrangements. Council has achieved a better price, but also expects equal or enhanced levels of performance, from these decisions.


Relationship to External Impacts

The economic development activity of Council may well be impacted by the global economic slowdown evident in early 2009. For instance, the achievement of RTO performance targets is highly dependent on the amount of discretionary income available to local and international visitors. In 2007/08 a three-year target of 5% annual growth in tourist numbers achieved an actual result of -4%, which was better than other tourism regions, but highlights how sensitive the sector is to the global economic conditions. The area is from time to time subject to the activity of the volcanic mountains. Whilst this has not proved significantly dangerous to the general population, the winter ski seasons can be seriously impacted, leading to decline in supporting hospitality industry for several seasons after an eruption. However, from experience, an investor should take into account that whilst this may affect returns for several seasons, the sheer number of world class attractions mean that the area recovers quickly, and continues to grow.

Links Click to View
NZIER Report Reviewing The Lines Company (TLC) Pricing MethodView
Te Kahui Tupua - Article in Tourism Business re TIANZ AwardView
Invest in Ruapehu pageView
BCC Funding AgencyView
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