Whanganui and Partners is an important part of the local Whanganui economy providing a link between council and business. As a council-controlled organisation, its funding comes from council and therefore ratepayers.

Newly appointed chairman, Pahia Turia says a key focus for Whanganui and Partners is to work alongside business.

"Council has got a business friendly team that's been established, and that's really looking at the culture within council, and looking to ensure that they've got really user-friendly processes and procedures in there that enable businesses to do what they do best, and that is to run their business," Turia said.

"I think there's probably a number of factors that are contributing to the success we are seeing as a city at the moment, and I think for the first time in a very, very long time, probably over 20 years, we've seen an increase in population."


According to Turia, those factors include affordability of housing, proximity to the ocean to the mountain, and proximity to NZ's capital.

While stimulating economic growth is positive for the city, the challenge is having the space to support it. The opening up of industrial zoned land like the Mill Rd development has required a huge investment from council, but it's a commitment that's paying off.

"Some of the developments that are going on out there and some of the businesses that have chosen to relocate themselves out there... it's just booming," Turia said.

"We've got to ride the wave while it's here but I don't think we're taking that for granted. I think we've got to ensure there's always a wave here to ride and we can't just accept that we're in a bit of a boom period at the moment. We've got to ensure that we do everything we can to keep it going."

And he has a message for New Zealand businesspeople.

"If you are a business and you are stuck in Auckland or Wellington or Christchurch, and you are looking to relocate your business, Whanganui is a great place to do business. And I think that we're in a time and a place now where we are ready to roll out the red carpet rather than the red tape, to enable businesses to relocate here, and allow that to happen in a seamless way, so people have an overwhelming experience of business relocation to another region.

"Whanganui is putting their hand up to say 'hey we're that place to come to'."

The significant growth in the city's population has put pressure on affordable, quality accommodation. Much of Whanganui's housing is old and needs improvements, but the council are looking at ways to enable developments to take place faster.


"Whanganui has never had a housing problem before, however, we are seeing that there is a shortage of available rental accommodation."

While manufacturing is the major earner for the city, Whanganui and Partners is aware that smaller players also have an important role to play. It's identified events as being vital in attracting visitors.

"We are trying to support groups that are basically bringing money to the region and bringing money to the city in terms of holding iconic events. And so most of the money that we have invested into initiatives have been around trying to bring people into our town to spend money.

"We've got a really strong focus on how we support our existing current businesses, how we retain them, how to enable them and support them to grow, and then how we attract new businesses to our town. So we are putting quite a bit of resources into that."

For Turia, the organisation's greatest investment is its people.

"We've got a formidable team of young people who are absolutely passionate and excited about doing great things for this place we call home. And having those people on board, focused on doing everything that they can to make this a wonderful city, has definitely been a big help for Whanganui and Partners, and more particularly for our board to know that we've got an absolutely capable CEO with a great team supporting him in his role."

Turia sees himself as an example of the future for Whanganui as the town attracts people back home for good.

"We left a consultancy business that my wife and I had set up about 10 years ago," he said. "We'd been on the road for seven years and had enough, and we thought we really wanted to be back home on a more permanent basis."

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