Good for region and us
Departing Grow Wellington chairman Murray McCaw has no time for parochial attitudes that resent paying to support the capital’s development agency.
He said Wellingtonian residents have a history of saying, ‘‘What’s in it for me?’’ rather than, ‘‘What’s good for the region is what’s actually good for me’’.
‘‘You’ve got to get over those parochial boundaries,’’ he said.
‘‘If you have a strong city environment – whether it’s Wellington city or Porirua city doesn’t matter – if you have a strong city you’ve got a strong region.’’
The attitude of Kapiti District Council changed markedly when a Clean Technology Centre was established in Otaki, Mr McCaw said.
The centre provides a host for technology company start-ups and is intended to become a technology park.
Wairarapa is also beginning to reap the rewards of Grow Wellington’s work, particularly Carterton bacon producer Premier Beehive.
‘‘They have had huge benefits out of what Grow Wellington does.’’
A major irrigation development, four or five years from fruition, will be of enormous benefit for Wairarapa people, he said.
Wellington on a Plate is a more visible part of Grow Wellington’s work, in partnership with Positively Tourism Wellington.
‘‘That was about getting Wellington known as a great food city,’’ Mr McCaw said.
The next task is to get some of Wellington’s export product into Australia.
To that end, a pop-up restaurant was set up in Sydney for two weeks, purveying exclusively Wellington food. During the day it was a trade show, showcasing Wellington products, and at night it became a restaurant.
‘‘Even at night the traders were able to bring guests into the restaurant and see their food being prepared and utilised. That’s been very successful from a food and wine and beer perspective,’’ he said.
Mr McCaw said Grow Wellington worked hard to keep the Cordon Bleu school in New Zealand and the Wellington region, once its Martinborough plans had fallen through, and he expects that to pay big dividends to primary producers.
‘‘We are going to start exporting New Zealand-trained chefs, and if they are used to working with New Zealand product, wherever they may be working around the world, they will be aware of specific New Zealand product and are going to want to use that product.’’
Transforming an economy takes world-class education and research, he said.
Another Grow Wellington project has been co-ordinating a health centre of excellence at Wellington Hospital, aimed at maximising the benefits of research going on at Victoria and Massey universities and the Malaghan Institute. As well as helping researchers to get their work to the market, it has indirect benefits to all Wellingtonians, he said.
Top scholars are attracted to the centre to work on their research in Wellington, and they do their clinical work locally.
Mr McCaw is going from one challenge to another. Next year he plans to take on the Great Wall of China half-marathon section.
Grow Wellington director Paul Mersi will take over as chairman.