Regional Economic Development Strategy

REDS Draft Report available

Throughout 2007 the Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency (EDA) has invited industry and public feedback on a review and update of the 2003 Nelson Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS).  This review examined progress in the past decade and has renewed the vision for the region’s future sustainable development, building on the original REDS study.

The 2007 REDS draft report has been prepared by John Cook and Associates for the EDA.

Summary of findings

  • The vision for the region described in the 2003 REDS is the same: Smart sustainable development that maintains economic diversity, preserves quality of life, and doesn’t degrade the region’s natural beauty and environment.
  • The five key economic drivers--horticulture, forestry, pastoral, seafood, and tourism—remain dominant, although their relative contribution to the economy has changed and each faces   challenging issues in future years
  • Opportunities for significant development exist in sectors such as aquaculture, natural products, information technology, and research and development
  • The Nelson City and Tasman District Councils need to work together more efficiently to implement many of the draft report’s recommendations to move the entire region forward
  • Those consulted identified constraints to future economic growth: regional transport, water, and  energy infrastructure; and affordable housing

The following key recommendations have been made to guide the region’s economic development over the next ten years.

Shape of the region

  1. Develop a land-use plan for the Nelson-Tasman region
  2. Address the critical issue of affordable housing by developing an urban  growth strategy for the Nelson-Tasman region (building on the Nelson Urban Growth Strategy (NUGS)
  3. Consistently interpret and implement the provisions of the Resource Management Act (RMA) with regard to the key economic sectors
  4. Provide essential tourism infrastructure by expediting construction of  a conference/performing arts centre
  5. Develop a unified plan on a regional roading strategy with emphasis on the Nelson-Brightwater corridor and a diversion route for heavy traffic through Motueka
  6. Establish sustainability of the region’s energy infrastructure and diversify energy generating sources
  7. Ensure planning for and implementation of future water storage and irrigation resources meet the region’s future needs
  8. Support and participate in a sustainability forum within the next 12 months to establish a Top of the South sustainable advisory group

Shape of the economy

  1. Identify and assist sectors and small/medium businesses that have the potential for substantial growth but could benefit from consolidation, cooperation, and/or vertical integration
  2. Develop mutually beneficial relationships with iwi, sector groups and business organisations
  3. Recommend the region’s pipfruit growers  support the national “Apple Futures” initiative to meet the exacting requirements of today’s consumer
  4. Re-establish the regional industry body for the forestry sector
  5. TDC should expedite the implementation of the regulatory legislation of the marine farming provisions of the Tasman Resource Management Plan
  6. Conduct an audit of the natural products sector to identify potential growth and constraints
  7. Encourage the development of potential information and communications technology companies
  8. Adopt the 2007 Nelson-Tasman Tourism Strategy
  9. Identify technical and engineering solutions for greater adoption of mechanisation in the region’s key industries
  10. Ensure Nelson-Tasman is the preferred location for science based organisations operating in key driver industries, and increase co-operation
  11. Continue to implement the Work Force Development Strategy with particular emphasis on recruitment, retention, skills and training

Public input

Extensive consultation was undertaken over many months, including general public feedback, sector workshops and forums, one to one interviews, discussions with service/community sector associations and representatives, local government authorities and business organisations.

Public responses reflected a positive feeling about the need for a robust local economy, but more negative sentiment about the sustainability of the region’s transport, water and energy resources.

A  significant majority (80+%) of people agreed that a buoyant economy is good for the region and that regional tourism should continue to be fostered.  However, when asked if the current balance of residential, industrial and commercial areas will be adequate for future development, a third of respondents felt Nelson-Tasman is not well prepared.

Respondents were not satisfied with the region’s current water, energy, and transport infrastructure.   Two thirds (64%) of respondents disagreed or felt neutral about the region’s water supply and storage adequately meeting future needs.  Four out of five (82%) considered the price of electric power unreasonable.  Perhaps most striking is that over 90 percent of people felt the region’s traffic and transport infrastructure is inadequate for future needs.

During October and November 2007, additional feedback was requested on the REDS Draft Report (feedback period is now closed).

Constraints to economic growth

Feedback identified the following constraints that could inhibit future regional economic growth.

  • Water and energy sustainability
  • Affordable housing
  • Regional transport

The Nelson-Tasman REDS draft report recommends two additional constraints be given priority.

  • Development and construction of a conference and performing arts centre
  • Adoption of the 2007 Tourism Strategy

Nelson-Tasman tourism is characterised by relatively low yield visitors with a pronounced seasonal peak.  Extending visitor incidence into the shoulder seasons and increasing visitor spending is a high priority.  A purpose-designed conference/performing arts facilities could re-engage the conference market and attract year-round regional visitors and provide a venue to attract more visitors to Nelson-Tasman outside the peak season.  The key to expansion of the region’s tourism sector is to implement the Nelson-Tasman Regional Tourism Strategy 2007-2016.  Without appropriate action and investment, the region could experience a significant decline in visitors and tourism revenue.


The complete REDS draft report is available on the EDA website. For questions, please email