Philippa Ivory wants people to be proud of Whanganui and spread the word.

So the new general manager of Whanganui and Partners has been walking the talk.

"I pick people off one at a time. I've already got two people flying Air Chathams, I've already convinced a friend in Auckland to come and stay," she said.

"That's my thing, I guess, is to ask people of Whanganui to be proud of where they live and tell other people.

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"And to support things like Air Chathams and to support their local shops and to go into Victoria Ave."

A Whanganui Girls' College old girl, Ms Ivory has returned to her childhood home to head Whanganui's economic development agency following the resignation of Adrian Dixon last year.

Ms Ivory left in the early 1980s and, apart from a few years in Melbourne, has lived and worked in Auckland since, most recently in marketing and communications for New Zealand Rugby League.

With a background in business and a desire to come back to Whanganui, the Whanganui and Partners role came at the right time for her.

Ms Ivory believed Whanganui and Partners was about "helping the people who live here have really successful lives".

"And then encouraging other people to come and live here so they can benefit from it".

One way to do that was to grow the city's population, she said.

"Because then you get more services, you get more shops and you get more choice if you've got more people.

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"I would really like to see people between 20 and 30 stay here because they can buy a house and have a real life."

The challenge was to change people's mindset about living in places like Whanganui.

"It's understanding that you have to earn this much to live in Auckland because you have a mortgage of this much.

"But if you can take a similar salary and come to Whanganui and buy a house, you've got time and you've got money - the two things that make life worth living.

"And if you want to go to a concert, you jump on an Air Chathams flight."

Air Chathams has proved a hit with Philippa Ivory.
Air Chathams has proved a hit with Philippa Ivory.

Ms Ivory believed Whanganui was a much more attractive town in which to live than it had been in recent decades.

"There just didn't seem to be many people around (when I left).

"(Now) I think what I've noticed is it just feels like a really funky go-ahead place. It just feels like a really great place to be. Places like Auckland are a harder place to live than when I went there, that's for sure."

Ms Ivory's arrival completes an overhaul of the organisation's structure and personnel.

A new strategic plan will be in place shortly and one which Ms Ivory said it needed to be held accountable to.

"So it's not just fluffy words. You need something to hang your hat on as far as a phrase or whatever but you also need to think about how you're going to deliver that," she said.

"They will be specific and measurable because there's no point otherwise."