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BrightEconomy Advisory Board
Nine Point Economic Development Framework
for the Rotorua District


This framework is the result of the thinking process utilised by the board and represents the board's areas of focus moving forward.

Three of these points are simply building off the base of the existing primary regional industries, but the remainder are somewhat less obvious opportunities that the future insights process has unearthed.

Existing business:

  1. Adding value to the existing mature Tourism industry in a way that will generate more sustainable high value visitors staying for a longer period of time
  2. Adding value to the existing mature Agriculture industry in a way that will generate more sustainable high value agriculture returns to the sector & community
  3. Adding value to the existing mature Forestry industry in a way that will generate more sustainable high value utilisation of the natural resource and strengthening Rotorua’s position as the NZ centre of excellence in the forest & wood processing sector.

New Business Opportunities:

  1. Bio Materials through Rotorua becoming recognised as the Australasian and ultimately the global Bio materials R&D and commercialisation hub
  2. Local Energy Generation through Rotorua utilising its natural energy generation resources to become 100% renewable energy Rotorua.
  3. Water through Rotorua becoming known as a destination where the sustainable use of the water resource leads to more business, lake health, R&D, lifestyle advantages and opportunities to generate pure water retailing businesses.
  4. Research & Development through providing access to R&D leverage funding programs, and the raising of the awareness of R&D as a SME business development tool designed to provide differentiated sustainable business growth opportunities.
  5. Land Use Optimisation driven by achieving a balance between sustainable commercial and non commercial uses so as to maximise the overall well being of the community.
  6. Immigration & Lifestyle Investment through selling the region's unique lifestyle attributes as a driver to generate a more highly skilled workforce with a growing higher income population base.

New Business Opportunities in Focus

Local Energy Generation

There are going to be extreme pressures placed on current energy sources, distribution lines and on methods of extraction. High demand will lead to great price fluctuations in the foreseeable future. Security of supply, availability of renewable resources and cost effective generation will become increasingly important on the global stage, impacting on NZ and on Rotorua. Rotorua is rich in natural resources such as the geothermal field and renewable bio-energy resources such as waste wood. These natural resources are backed up by excellent research and development capabilities at Crown Research Institute, Scion. This combination presents an opportunity for Rotorua to investigate ways to generate local energy, which could be utilised to mitigate the risk of major national energy shortages as well as present us with a unique global competitive advantage of security of supply of energy for both business and living more....

Land Use Optimisation

Land is one of the main sustainable resources of the area. The landscape and the use of land underpin all the other areas of focus in this strategy - the development of energy and biomaterials, the quality of water and choices about lifestyle and living spaces. Land use optimisation is about achieving a subjective balance between commercial and non commercial uses so as to maximize the overall well being of the community. Large proportions of land are used for fibre and food production (timber, wool, dairying and meat). All these areas are harvesting natural resources of soil, sun and water. Due to a significant amount of iwi ownership, the land is also one of the major drivers of future economic opportunity for the significant Maori population of Rotorua. The goal is to facilitate the optimisation of economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes of land use while having regard for property rights. There is a need to develop tools and systems to enable adequate analysis of any proposed activity or regulation. The regulatory approach has to change to focus on outcomes that facilitate innovation, and on the adoption of new technologies that achieve the goal of balanced economic and environmental outcomes.more....

Immigration and Lifestyle Investment

Rotorua has a unique lifestyle value proposition that is based around access to the outdoors, tourism infrastructure, unique natural environment, limited traffic issues, housing and living affordability, and an easily accessible, geographically central location. As populations become more transient with shifting life styles, work styles and family structures, this value proposition needs to be accentuated to help to create a more highly skilled workforce and a higher income population base in Rotorua. The district has to be marketed as a destination for living, studying, working, investing, and doing business through the creation of a well promoted, friendly and welcoming environment for immigrants and lifestyle investors alike. Lifestyle investment is a growing Health worldwide trend as people start to invest more in their lifestyle versus their material wealth. This will attract residents to Rotorua with high family incomes, high levels of education, and an interest in living in a safe environment where town meets country. Many lifestyle investors will be in business, internationally linked, semi-retired, or working from home. This will create a set of opportunities and challenges from which Rotorua can grow.more....

Research and Development

The Rotorua economy is based on the primary sectors of forestry and farming along with the service industry of tourism. The primary sectors are heavily influenced by the global commodity markets and exchange rates. This creates issues with market fluctuations caused by these two uncontrollable factors. In both these sectors Rotorua companies take advantage of adding value to the core resources where possible to create higher value, less commodity driven products. Globalisation and increased competition from low cost producers such as China creates an even greater need to look for ways to add value to commodity products, and develop production processes and the technologies needed to achieve this added value in order to compete on the global stage. Research and development is key to achieving this. The BrightEconomy Advisory Board will work with the key stakeholders within the region and in NZ to raise the awareness of this important but often overlooked aspect of business. The Board will create pathways to help ensure that Rotorua businesses have access to research and development.more....


For many centuries, mankind relied upon plants as its major sources of food, shelter, tools, energy and clothing. In recent times there has been a rapid trend away from these materials to more modern and flexible alternatives, with an escalating demand for more sophisticated materials. These materials are synonymous with wealth, status, and comfort, so the demand is insatiable. Steel and concrete were among the first manufactured materials to substitute the natural materials such as wood, earth and brick. More recently aluminium and a growing range of oil derivatives have flooded onto the market, penetrating into a wide spectrum of consumer materials. The advent of peak oil will result in a scarcity of raw materials Health and an escalation of prices of both oil—based materials and the energy required to fabricate materials such as aluminium and steel. There is an urgent need to find substitute materials if we are to sustain our standard of living. The only obvious source of substitute material resource is that which can be derived from plants and in particular from wood. Rotorua has long history with, as well as a plentiful supply of, this raw material. This opportunity is enhanced in Rotorua with the raw material resource being complemented by the location of Scion in the district. Scion has shifted its business to focus on the implementation of a Biomaterials Economy.more...


In the future, there will be extreme pressures and value placed on the globe’s water resources for drinking, industry and recreational use. Rotorua is uniquely positioned to take advantage of its comparative natural advantage, having 14 lakes in the region, a good level of regular rainfall and the unique geothermal water resource. While there is currently a number of water quality issues in the region, the natural water resource is a potential global point of difference for Rotorua, both in the capacity it has for new business activity and for providing a lifestyle living destination. The work on the restoration of the lakes presents new opportunities for the combination of environmental and economic outcomes, and could position the region as a global leader in the development and application of improved lake water technology. more....

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