Thriving Economy

The GDP of Tairawhiti is small - 0.7% New Zealand’s GDP

This is partly geography (location, population and landscape) and partly a historical reliance on primary industries.

If we want to grow our share of the GDP, and have a stronger, more resilient economy, we may need to re-shape what we do, how we do it and where we do it.

“He tangata – it is people”


The evidence - what do we already know?

Population growth is significant

» In 30 years we expect to have another 4,000 people living in our region (nearly 9% increase) – mostly from inward migration. 

» Gisborne is facing the prospect of an aging population. Currently the 70+ years age group accounts for 10% of the population.  This is expected to increase to 16% of the population aged over 70 years by 2048.

» Housing affordability is becoming an issue within Gisborne city. Median house prices rose by $44,000 during 2018 to $390,000 in February 2019 - up more than 25% on the same time last year. 


Primary industry

  » Nearly a quarter (23.8%) of jobs are in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sectors 

» Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing experienced a 18.7% overall drop in the number of workers  between 2000 and 2017.  

 2017 GDPpop growth

Labour market

» Employment growth in Gisborne has lagged behind the rest of the country. Between 2000 and 2017 Gisborne employment grew around 5.5%, while the rest of the country experienced growth of around 28%.

» In 2017 the largest sectors were:

      > Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

      > Health care and social assistance, and

      > Manufacturing.

» The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sectors currently make up a large share (23.8%) of employment, relative to other sectors. Sheep, beef cattle and grain farming is the largest sector in terms of employment - 2,093 workers .

» Other large sectors include:

       > Health care and social assistance (2,653 workers)

       > Professional, scientific, technical, administrative and support services                   (2,123 workers)

       > Education and training (2,103 workers).

» By 2048, the largest sectors are expected to be:

       > Agriculture, forestry and fishing support services (3,080 jobs; +84% from             2018)

       > Sheep, beef cattle and grain farming (2,730 jobs; +10%)

       > Professional, scientific, technical, administrative and support services                   (2,710 workers; +15% from 2018)

» The working-age population is decreasing as our people get older.

» 400 jobs need filling immediately and yet…

 unemployment table2


»In 2018, Gisborne was New Zealand’s fastest growing tourism region with the total spend increasing by 14.4% to $166m 

»52,700 international visitors visited the region in the year ending December 2018, up from 36,300 the year before (+40%).

»Longer term average increase of 5.5% per annum since 2007.

reasons for visiting table

 wood pile

Growth and development

The government announced $153 million of funding to develop Tairawhiti outlined below:

 PGF announcement2

» The Waiapu landfill is the only class 1 landfill in the region

» We truck most of our waste approximately 300km to a landfill in Paeroa

» We have too much organic waste currently going to landfill:

» Green waste currently 5.9% of total waste stream at TPI  (748Tpa)

» Food waste currently 22% of total waste (2795Tpa)

» Approx. 10,000Tpa of wood bark is transported to Hawke’s Bay for processing into compost

» 87% of Tairawhiti have access to refuse and recycling services

 pie graph

The challenges and opportunities

Challenges - if we do nothing

» Tairawhiti will continue to rely on primary industries that may not be sustainable for example, our economy is the most reliant on forestry in all of New Zealand.

» The continual shortage of labour will continue to negatively impact on economic growth in the region.

» An aging population will place constraints on rates affordability.

» A continuing shortage of housing supply will constrain economic growth and challenge affordability and home ownership rates.

» Our waste mountain will continue to grow – the economic cost of managing this waste will continue to grow as well.


 » Continue to promote Tairawhiti as a lifestyle destination and the best place to live in New Zealand.

» Look at opportunities to invest in local townships to support regional economic development.

» Support the growth of tourism through an East Coast journey with development of key destinations, activities and infrastructure to support an increase in visitor traffic.

» Ensure availability of land for new housing to attract and support new businesses establishing in Gisborne.

» Consider alternative waste technologies to landfill disposal.

» Promote the reuse of treated wastewater .

» Development of circular economy for the region.

» Tech industry development and innovation.


The questions

» How do we fill the labour market shortage?

      > How do we attract more people to the region? 

      > Where will they live?

      > What further infrastructure will we need to support this growth?

» What infrastructure do we need to support the sustainable development of our key regional industries? 

» What are the opportunities to reduce our waste stream? 

» How do we move towards a more circular economy?   

      > How do we eliminate waste?

      > How do we create a more liveable region?

      > How do we regenerate natural systems? 

» What are the opportunities for new industries and business sectors across Tairāwhiti?

      > Tech hub?

      > Manufacturing / value added to primary products?

 cruise ship2

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Latest Submission
I think all economic discussions should be framed by the circular economy principles to “Design out Waste, Keep resources in use, and Regenerate natural systems.” We should plan towards the need for all residents to transition into lifestyles which involve lower energy use. These principles can assist with planning e.g. if we plan for reduced car use (because in the near future car ownership may be shared, or people will book the use of a car when they need one) then it makes sense for the CBD to become a shared space, with no through traffic, and for development applications, or infill housing, to need fewer car parking spaces to be provided. Rather than being reactionary, GDC can provide proactive leadership to assist in the required transition towards a low carbon, low energy, regenerative economy, through thoughtful planning.
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