Hawke's Bay has received a major economic boost with a waterfront hotel and conference centre development underway in Napier and Kiwibank promising to create 100 jobs in Hastings.
The two projects are symbolic of the growing confidence in the New Zealand economy, with the Kiwibank move in particular described as vindication of a belief the provinces can provide cost- effective, efficient business services.
The East Pier Hotel development was confirmed yesterday by Portside Inn Ltd owners Dave Halstead and brothers Mark and Julian Herbert.
They said the two-storey, four-star accommodation complex with three conference and function rooms must be open by January 2015.
Staff numbers will double from the 15 currently employed in the company's East Pier Bar and Brasserie, which remains open throughout the work.
Meanwhile, the Kiwibank announcement confirmed an as-yet undisclosed location in the Hastings CBD would, from October onwards, be host to a new Kiwibank site handling back office functions, with about 100 jobs moving from the company's Wellington head office.
It is not yet known how many Wellington-based employees will take up relocation offers and how many positions would be up for grabs locally.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was "ecstatic" at the Kiwibank announcement, which came about as a result of six months' of work involving his council and the private sector.
"It is probably one of the most significant economic development opportunities we've had in the central part of Hastings and it pretty much vindicates our view we can provide cost effective and efficient services in the provinces," Mr Yule said.
"We put up a compelling case, we've had staff working on this for a while with the private sector."
Mr Yule said he believed there would be significant local employment generated from the move but was bound by a confidentiality agreement and could not disclose the exact location of the new office.
He said it was a "good site and a very central location".
Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said the office would bring added diversity to the region.
"I think having people like Rod [Drury] here and some of the other business people that are commuting, they understand the value of this lifestyle, and this is becoming more and more attractive to people," he said.
"It's just exciting to hear people are choosing to come here rather than go from here."
A Kiwibank representative told Hawke's Bay Today the move to Hastings was related to risk management and was designed to supplement the Wellington head office in the case of disasters or emergencies such as earthquakes, fires, tsunamis and other similar scenarios.
The Hastings office would be able to provide Kiwibank services in the event the Wellington head office was closed.
The representative said the news was announced to Wellington staff within the past 24 hours and they were working through relocation offers.
"It's in the central city, but I can't be more specific at this point because we haven't actually concluded our lease negotiations.
"Kiwibank is a rapidly growing company and where we differ from other banks operating in New Zealand is virtually all our back office functions operate in Wellington and the one building.
"There are a number of things that could limit access to our building and if that were to happen it could disrupt or stop our back office functions, so we are looking to mitigate our risk."
He said Hastings was an attractive option due to its cost and the region's attractive lifestyle, which appealed to Wellington staff.