Neville Smith
Through GEON, sponsors Art Deco Weekend

In terms of promoting tourism, Hawke’s Bay is about events. BNZ Horse of the Year. Kelt Capital, GEON Art Deco Weekend, Deco Decantered. Mission Concert. Church Road Concert, Harvest Hawke’s Bay. Rugby. Basketball. Golf Masters. Plus business conferences.

These events and conferences are what showcase the region. That’s the easiest way to get people here. We recently held our GEON conference here. All of our executive team from Australia who have never been here before were blown away with what we have to offer … architecture, food and wine.

Speaking of wine country, well I thought that was Gisborne? Or should that be Martinborough? Oh no, I mean Marlborough. When will someone realise we are about Architecture!! The only thing that is unique about Hawke’s Bay was caused by the 1931 earthquake. Out of that rose Spanish Mission in Hastings and Art Deco in Napier. The earthquake molded the Bay, destroying buildings from Dannevirke to Wairoa. Isn’t that unique?

But I guess we all push our own barrows, and that’s why 20,000 people do the Art Deco Walk each year when they come to Wine Country

From the standpoint of promoting economic development, I question whether local government agencies like Venture Hawke’s Bay have the right skills. Why does Venture Hawke’s Bay get involved with business development when none of their staff have been in business? What do these people do? Will Kevin Atkinson let me coach the rugby? Will Sam Kelt let me train his horses?

Tell me a business that has come to Hawke’s Bay to set up with guidance from VHB. We should let Ray McKimm from the Ahuriri Business Park manage this money as he has done a great job in investing his money to regenerate Hawke’s Bay. I believe he will have 1100 people working from that site in about 12 months.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of Hawke’s Bay businesses struggling today. We need to focus on supporting those businesses by buying from local organizations who employ locally.

Similarly, VHB receives a grant from government, around $90k per year, to promote sustainable tourism … the STAR programme. Do they belong to the STAR programme? The website for the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development quotes the use of FSC-accredited paper. Does VHB follow these guidelines, or do they set up their own?

My point in raising these examples is … as a promoter of business development, does Venture Hawke’s Bay itself follow and practise what it advocates to businesses here in the region?

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