Three months on from its creation, Waikato's new economic development agency Te Waka has identified 53 priority areas and projects to lift the region's performance.

Its newly launched four-year economic development programme embraces a wide range of sectors from education, the Māori economy and transport to manufacturing, energy and high performance sport, with primary production, tourism and aquaculture expected to be the areas of strong initial focus.

Te Waka chief operating officer Harvey Brookes said the first step in the 2018-2022 programme was to test the feasibility of identified projects, many of which had been pulled from an economic summit held in late August at Lake Karapiro, attended by 250 of the region's business leaders.

Te Waka chairman Dallas Fisher told a programme launch event in Hamilton that while the Waikato region on average was prospering, some communities weren't doing well.


In some cases deprivation levels were above the New Zealand average, he said.

The programme built on the work of Te Waka predecessor Waikato Means Business and the region's economic and community development organisations.

It was also based on a strong relationship with the Government, especially its provincial development programme, Fisher said.

The programme also set out a series of economic development initiatives which Te Waka would lead, support and facilitate.

Fisher said Te Waka would work with industry sectors and groups to build business leadership and would support the Hamilton to Auckland transport corridor project and the southern Waikato economic action plan.

Brookes said some of the identified priority areas would develop faster than others but details and dollars had yet to be defined.

However, Te Waka hoped to make an announcement about an aquaculture initiative for the Coromandel Peninsula before Christmas, he said.

Te Waka has seven full-time staff, expected to rise to 10 soon.


The organisation has an annual operating budget of about $2 million, comprised of funding from Waikato corporate sponsors and the region's university, local government and government funding contracts, including with Callaghan Innovation.

Funding for projects within the programme would be separate, Brookes said.