Sometimes it seems that Havelock North is a victim of its own success.

There is a long held view that Havelockians are rich and come from privileged backgrounds. However, NZ Stats does not quite agree with that notion. The largest career demographic living there are teachers – not lawyers, accountants, evil large corporate business owners, doctors and rich landed gentry, as is often opined.

Havelock North is a pleasant place to live and the Village retail area is mostly owner-operated businesses … a novelty these days with the advent of big box shopping malls. All of the lifestyle requirements are there including a wide range of residential and business options plus some of the best schools in Hawke’s Bay, some might say New Zealand.

Wikipedia describes Havelock North as a town. In fact, it is a suburb of Hastings since the amalgamation in 1989 of the Havelock North Borough Council, the Hastings City Council and the Hawke’s Bay County Council to form the Hastings District Council. The conversation around amalgamation was no doubt the same then as it is today, with the idea that Hastings and Havelock North together must be stronger, delivering greater economic and social benefits for the whole district.

Havelock Business Association groupies from left to right: Sam Jackman, Adrienne Pierce, Bruce Jackson, George Miller, George Williams, Jeni Cox, Nick Pattison

Has that been the case? Experience to date has been that generally Havelock North pretty much looks after itself. Hastings is the economic hub and Heart of Hawke’s Bay, and there has been and continues to be a very concentrated effort to make these statements a reality. The two former Havelock North councillors seem to mostly have been marginalised, although one assumes that will change with the Havelock North – Hastings ward being combined.

If there is such a thing as brand recognition (some councillors don’t believe so) – what are the brands of Hastings and Havelock North?

Hastings could be viewed as Havelock North’s big sister, and the less attractive cousin of Napier. Nonetheless, she has great bone structure and huge potential, except she tends to get a bit snarky and bossy with her other relatives. Havelock North is the ‘best little village in the world’ where you can live, play and work.

And the pretty cousin Napier tends to be a bit flashy and ‘look at me, look at me’ which doesn’t help at family gatherings.

We need to somehow ‘get over it’ as they say and getting a business plan would be extremely helpful. It would be ideal to do this for Hawke’s Bay, but that’s a step too far at this time, so let’s get it organised for the Hastings District. It’s critical to have a Marketing 101 plan, sitting next to the Business Plan. We have been here before but we need to re-visit and get crystal clear on who we are (clue: not Wellington, not Auckland, not Queenstown), who are our customers (clue: ratepayers and visitors), what do our customers need, and how do we deliver?

Havelock North Business Association has worked from a Hawke’s Bay perspective for the last four or five years. The recognition of where it sits in the Hawke’s Bay universe has always been very clear. Relationships have been built with other associations to promote the Village as the place to base yourself to see Hawke’s Bay.

The key is to continue to build a strong brand for The Village, and to galvanise the Havelock North business community. The marketing committee for the association this year has stepped the game up to another level and documented what needs to happen. The clear and concise objectives are:

  • Become ‘the greatest little village in the world’;
  • Fill our accommodation providers – 400 beds – every weekend;
  • Get locals to shop local;
  • Drive supplementary revenue through online.

Becoming the ‘greatest little village in the world’ requires one consistent voice for marketing, with one consistent brand look and feel. That’s what Havelockians are doing for themselves.

If would be great if Hastings District Council could provide a Hastings District Promotion Plan, to include a business park strategy, and a plan for attracting national and international business … and most importantly, in each of these we need to see clearly where Havelock North and our other neighbour ‘suburbs’ fit in.

Adrienne Pierce is a newly-elected HDC councillor and president of the Havelock North Business Association.

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