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A labour of love at Whiti Farm Park - Economic development and business news update

30 October 2020

COVID-19 and the challenges it has brought to 2020 have stretched businesses across the Coromandel, with hospitality and the tourism sectors among the hardest hit.

(Photo - Whiti Farm Park has rebounded from a year of challenges)

Local tourism business Whiti Farm Park has had it's share of challenges this year.  Owners Ronnie and Stephen James have had to contend with the hit COVID-19 has thrown at them. On back of challenges of the summer drought and feed shortages, followed by a 100-year storm that wiped out a good swathe of the property. 

The James faced the challenges with courage and have come out other side, having just experienced a record Labour Weekend. We catch up with them on the year and its new online marketing focus, later in this newsletter.

Also in this Economic Development Update:

  • Hauraki Rail Trail - Te Aroha to Matamata extension opens
  • Fullers Ferry returns to the Coromandel
  • Free business advisor drop-in sessions
  • Economic intelligence - Waikato region
  • COVID-19 business support funding
  • Looking for staff? These leads could help
  • Funding available for arts and culture recovery
  • Destination Coromandel annual report
  • Our Coromandel magazine - out now
  • Events update
  • i-SITE and Visitor Information Centre hours

**Sign up for our ED Update Newsletter**

If you have been forwarded this newsletter, and you'd like to be on our mailing list to receive future updates direct to your inbox, you can sign up here and make sure you check the box for 'economic development'.

Close encounters of the animal kind

It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Whiti Farm Park this year, but spring has bought the arrival of many baby animals, and fresh energy and anticipation for a busy summer ahead.

As well as battling with COVID-19 lockdowns, which stopped the flow of domestic and international tourists this year, owners Ronnie and Stephen James had to contend with the summer drought, closely followed by a one-in-100-year flood, which wiped out much of their property.

The flood in late May/June also washed away some of the ground work the couple had done during the first lockdown in preparation to open stage three of the park - a dream that had been on the horizon since they launched 13 years ago.

Ronnie and Stephen (pictured above) are no strangers to hard work. When they first moved to the property they spent five years draining the swampy land, scrub clearing, fencing and re-grassing.

“We’ve built this from nothing essentially,” Ronnie says of the 85-acre property.

“At first, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to afford to make it a farm,” she says.

They perservered and after collecting more than 50 different species of farmyard, exotic and domesticated animals/birds and reptiles,  Whiti Farm Park opened in December 2007.  The James have never looked back.

Ronnie says the farm’s fans range from aged 2 to 82, and they cater for families, school groups, bus tours, birthday parties and other functions. There’s a giant trampoline and rope swing on site, and with picnic tables and a bbq available, they encourage guests to roam around, feeding and petting the animals and enjoying a relaxed day out.

“We have very reasonable entry prices so that our park can be available to families on any budget,” Ronnie says.

“We don't have a cafe and would rather encourage people to pack a good old-fashioned picnic and enjoy the things we did as children. We provide a place that gets kids out of the house, off their devices and out into the great outdoors. We teach them to love, care and respect animals and also encourage them to play, learn and have fun with their imaginations,” she says.

“Once through the gate, you can stay as long as you like, and we love it when we see people enjoying the park so much. It's the smiles on their faces that make all our hard work worthwhile.”

Like most Coromandel tourism operators, the farm park has in recent years enjoyed growth of the ‘shoulder season’ for tourism,  with a busy summer starting in early December running through to the end of March.

Summer of 2019/2020 saw the James contend with a drought, which meant very little grass growth, as well as feed and water shortages.

Hot on the heels was COVID-19, which wasn’t a typical lockdown for this tourism business. While visitors disappeared, the animals still needed to be fed, cleaned and cared for.

"We had to carry on at the park as usual, with the same expenses and work to be done, just without the visitors and the income,” Ronnie says, referring to income lost from the April school holidays in particular.

But they put the time to good use, with Stephen working away on a digger developing new sections of the property for visitors to experience.

Unfortunately there’s nothing to show for that since the flood hit – one day after the park reopened after the COVID lockdown.

While the farm gets one or two floods most winters, the latest exceeded all previous benchmarks. Flood water was level with the road, wiping out 30 per cent of the farm’s fences, destroying landscaping and creating a huge and overwhelming mess of the property generally. It took six weeks to tidy up to a stage where they could reopen, but still there is more to do.

The James are grateful for all of the community support with the clean-up. “We had wonderful support with community working bees, where people we didn’t even know, locally and further afield, giving us a hand,” she says. 

The farm also received help and advice from Rural Support and Environment Waikato. They were fantastic in lending a hand and auctioning help from a local arborist to clear the clogged stream. They later returned to help with plantings to stabilise the bank of the stream. (see photo below).

The farm park had just recovered and re-opened for a successful few weeks when the second wave of COVID restrictions in August saw Auckland back in lockdown, and visitor flows halted once again.

While the farm gets great support from locals, Ronnie says out-of-towners, particularly Aucklanders, are their largest market (international visitors made up just 15-20 per cent of total visitors).

Despite what’s behind them, brighter days are ahead. Ronnie says business over the September school holidays was fantastic as people came to see the baby animals and enjoyed holidaying at home. “It was like the middle of Christmas here,” she says. 

“Our visitors were just so happy and they seemed thrilled just to be away from the city.”

She thinks COVID has helped foster a new appreciation for the park and it’s laid-back, rustic feeling and says the park is benefitting from a resurgence of Kiwis exploring their own backyard.

Labour Weekend was twice as busy as last year, and Ronnie anticipates summer will follow suit. It’s been just the two of them working on the farm until now, with occasional help from volunteers over summer. They may now have to look at taking on a staff member to help them through the season. 

They will amp up their advertising locally and nationally after being announced as the Waikato winners of the people’s choice award in the Stuff and 2degrees Business Shop Local competition. They've received a $20,000 advertising package to promote the farm park locally and nationally and get the word out about what the farm park has to offer.

Ronnie says the money will also go towards repairing fences and shelters destroyed by the flooding. It would help us pay for animal feed and allow us to complete stage three of our plan for the park.

The business has also received a $2,000 social media package grant through Te Waka's Regional Business Partners Network, which has seen them receive coaching on how to improve their social media presence. “It’s been really helpful,” Ronnie says. Check out the Whiti Farm Park on Facebook on @WhitiFarmPark

As if running a farm is not busy enough, Ronnie also has a natural skin care business Genie in a Jar, which sees her travel to visit trade shows to market her moisturing body scrub and light moisturiser made from essential oils and marine derivatives.  Genieinajar.co.nz

  • Whitifarmpark.co.nz
  • 2414 State Highway 25 RD 1 Tairua - Whitianga Road (between Coroglen and Whitianga)
  • Open seven days 10am-4pm
  • Ph 07 8662349

Hauraki Rail Trail - Te Aroha to Matamata Official Opening


The much anticipated new Te Aroha to Matamata extension of the Hauraki Rail Trail is almost complete, with an official opening this weekend to celebrate this fabulous new attraction for the region. 

The celebrations will take place on Sunday 1 November at 9.00am at Te Aroha Railway Station.

The Hauraki Rail Trail extensions are a $7.5 million project and a joint venture between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and Hauraki and Matamata-Piako District Councils.  Matamata-Piako District Council received $3,786,367 from MBIE’s Enhancing the Great Ride Fund to extend the trail from Te Aroha to Matamata and from Pūkorokoro-Miranda to Kaiaua.

Both extensions are due for completion in December 2020, with Section E construction works largely completed, and landscaping and signage underway.  The extensions will be a valuable addition to the community, generating visitor numbers to our regions and providing health and wellness benefits to residents.

The Hauraki Rail Trail is now 160kms long reaching Kaiaua in the North, Waihi in the East and South to Matamata. The trail also extends to Thames - through the township, rich in goldmining and pioneering history, and taking in the pohutukawa trees on the expansive Thames Coast. A second celebration will be held later in the year for the northern extension from Pūkorokoro-Miranda to Kaiaua where works are ongoing.

Hauraki Rail Trail Chief Executive Diane Drummond says the public are welcome to attend the dawn blessing ceremonies, which will be attended by dignatories and iwi partners this weekend. These will take place at the Te Aroha and Matamata ends of the trail simultaneously at 5.30am - at the Te Aroha Railway Station, and beside the Oaks on Broadway near the Matamata i-SITE.

Later in the morning after the blessings, there will be speeches from key dignitaries, the infamous ribbon cutting at Te Aroha by iwi partners, and cake cutting by the three Mayors of the neighbouring districts, including our own Mayor Sandra Goudie.

Cafes will be open in Te Aroha, Te Aroha West, Manawaru, Firth Tower and Matamata for breakfast after the speeches. 

"We look forward to welcoming you all to the new trail," Diane says.

"Unfortunately under the COVID-19 Level 1 protocols there won’t be an organised ride for this event as we have enjoyed in the past.  COVID-19 has prevented the Hauraki Rail Trail Trust from providing a shuttle service to cater for riders on this occasion.  Riders may however organise their own group ride event," she says.

haurakirailtrail.co.nz

Fullers Ferry returns to the Coromandel

n preparation for a summer without international visitors, Fullers360 is launching a set of new and improved products and services, specifically tailored to the local, domestic market.

This includes bringing the Coromandel services back on stream for the first time since the COVID-19 level four lockdown in March. The Auckland-to-Coromandel are now back in operation, along side the Auckland-to--Rotoroa Island service, also on the Hauraki Gulf.  

Fullers360 Chief Executive Officer Mike Horne says that summer is the perfect opportunity to reignite domestic tourism and to bring Fullers360’s recovery strategy for the Hauraki Gulf to life.

“Given the current limitations on international travel, our focus this year has been on reinvigorating our products and services to appeal to the domestic market and to make the Hauraki Gulf as accessible as possible," he says.

“Summer is typically an incredibly busy period of the year for the tourism sector. However, with the decline in international tourism this year, we are hopeful these initiatives will support local economies around the Gulf and give retailers and tourism operators a well needed boost.”

Alongside its other ticketing options, Fullers360 will be trialling self-service kiosks on Pier 2 of the Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal until the end of January 2021. The kiosks will provide self-service technology which seeks to reduce and prevent queuing on the wharf at peak times and give passengers more choice when planning their journeys.

Find out more at fullers.co.nz and information on what it offers in the Coromandel at fullers.co.nz/destinations/coromandel

Free business advisor sessions available


Free business advisor drop-in sessions are held regularly in Thames, Whitianga, Whangamata and Coromandel Town.

Te Waka, in partnership with our Council, organises for business advisors to visit our district for these free, one-on-one sessions. The advisors take a birds-eye look at your whole business then help you connect with the right resources and experts so you can build capability and thrive.

Advisors can offer assistance in cashflow management and finance, human resources, health and wellness and business continuity planning and any other areas of need. They will refer business owners to helpful resources including where to go for government assistance.

Upcoming sessions. 

  • Thames: (Monthly) First Tuesday afternoon of the month. Next session: 3 November from 12pm to 4pm at our Council’s service centre at 515 Mackay St Thames.
  • Whitianga: (Monthly) Second Wednesday morning of the month with the next session on Wednesday, 11 November from 10am to 12pm at our Council’s service centre at 10 Monk St, Whitianga
  • Whangamata: (Monthly) Second Wednesday afternoon of the month with the next session on Wednesday, 11 November from from 2:30pm - 4:30pm at our Council’s service centre at 620 Port Rd, Whangamata
  • Coromandel Town: (Monthly) on the second Tuesday of the month with the next session on Tuesday 10 November from 12pm-5pm at our Council's service centre at 355 Kapanga Rd, Coromandel Town.

In the meantime, the advisory service is still offered online via ZOOM.  To secure a slot, visit www.tewaka.nz or call 07 857 0538 or email businessgrowth@tewaka.nz

Economic intelligence - Waikato region


Te Waka, our regional economic development agency for Waikato, publishes a range of economic reports which highlight the key indicators and trends of the Waikato economy. You'll find these online at waikato.com

Read the monthly Waikato Economic Radar for October 2020 here.

 COVID-19 fund

Since the March lockdown, Te Waka has helped over 1,800 businesses access the Government COVID-19 fund.

There's still funding available for businesses for help with human resources, employee relations, business continuity planning, finance and cashflow management, marketing and digital enablement. Get in touch by emailing businessgrowth@tewaka.nz

Find out more about COVID-19 business support funding here

Looking for staff? These leads could help

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) invites employers to get in touch about opportunities to employ staff and support packages and training.

Please contact Liz Sydney at liz.sydney001@msd.govt.nz

Some of the support programmes are available at this link.

MSD has a team monitoring the inbox below that can work in the employment space so will be able to support with staff. Construct_Waikato@msd.govt.nz

FutureForce® Job Board
Each year in Waikato approximately 5,800 students leave high school and hundreds more complete their tertiary study. 

Any businesses expecting to have entry level jobs, cadetships, apprenticeships, traineeships available over the summer holidays or next year should be thinking about targeting these young people now before they leave their educational institutions for end of year exams.

Smart Waikato’s FutureForce® Job Board is free for Waikato employers to promote workplace opportunities directly to job-seekers and students through Waikato-based work brokers, school careers advisors and educators (secondary and tertiary).  List a job here: https://futureforce.nz/job-board/list-a-job/

Waikato:  Waikato Nxtstep is a free job-matching website for the Waikato region to support business owners and employees through COVID-19. Check it out here: https://waikato.nxtstep.co.nz/

He Waka Eke Noa is a link between buyers and employment. www.wen.org.nz/

Destination Coromandel Annual Report - a tale of two halves

The following is a media release from Destination Coromandel - the Regional Tourism Organisation for Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki Districts.

The Coromandel region suffered a significant economic setback in the final months of the 2019/20 financial year. Overall visitor spend decreased by 7.5 per cent when compared to the previous year, mostly due to a $50 million drop in spend in March and April. While COVID-19 restrictions only arrived in the last quarter, the impact has dominated all other results.

The $459 million total spend for 2019/20 took us back two years, however tourism was already slowing and Destination Coromandel had been anticipating a smaller increase as suggested in our previous annual report.

Destination Coromandel endeavoured to build on the success of the previous domestic marketing campaigns that addressed seasonality and regional spread. An increase in $5 million spend from domestic travellers for the target period made for an impressive start to the 2019/20 financial year.

The Winter Wellness campaign challenged perceptions of The Coromandel solely being a summer beach destination. Local food, art and retail therapy helped deliver on the #goodforyoursoul proposition.

The Hauraki Rail Trail 'Take it Easy' campaign was arguably the best campaign that the regional tourism organisation has produced. An increase of 11 per cent in web traffic and 89 per cent in page views with almost 3,000 product referrals providing an impressive conversion rate for engaged tourism businesses. The final domestic campaign was pulled within days of launching due to introduction of COVID-19 into our lives.

International activity was also a tale of two halves with 67 agents hosted from our key markets in the first six months. In the second six months, major travel trade events such as eXplore and TRENZ were cancelled, immediate impacts multiplying with a long road to recovery ahead.

Likewise, the two i-SITES that Destination Coromandel manage on behalf of Thames Coromandel District Council felt the dramatic change COVID-19 brought. The i-SITE team worked under pressure and uncertainty while it was safe to do so before closing, only to reopen to a much quieter existence post lockdown.

Destination Coromandel trustee chairperson John Sandford often reminds the marketing and sales team to reflect on their work but concedes that it’s a harder ask when there’s so much work ahead. “The team are working on the first summer campaign we’ve ever released and they are also taking on additional responsibility afforded through the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme fund. The next twelve months will be a very challenging time, but there’s no shortage of opportunity to progress broader goals beyond the economic impacts of tourism,” Mr Sanford says.

Destination Coromandel has been pleasantly surprised by the level of post-lockdown visitation that included a record July with $30 million spent compared with July 2019 at $23 million.

This has provided some confidence for the summer months when the region is inviting travellers to the place “Where Kiwis Holiday”.

Read the Destination Coromandel Annual Report 2019-2020 here.

Funding available for arts and culture recovery


Funding is available through the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (MCH) for the cultural sector.

Ten funds have been released in the Arts and Culture COVID Recovery programme, as listed below:

  • $2 million Museum hardship fund
  • $18 million Te Papa
  • $25 million to support the creative sector through their Emergency Response Package
  • $70 million for Creative Arts Recovery and Employment Fund
  • $60 million for Cultural Innovation Fund
  • $20 million for Cultural Capacity Fund
  • $7.9 million for programme supporting people back into the creative sector and sustainable work
  • $16.5 millionfor New Zealand music fund
  • $12 million for Pasifika Culture and Heritage Fund
  • $20 million for Mātauranga Māori initiatives

The rest of the money in the recent MCH announcement will be divided among the four new funds:

Creative Arts Recovery and Employment Fund: $70 million over three years for supporting the rebuild of the creative industries by commissioning and supporting creative projects at a national and local level.

Cultural Innovation Fund: $60 million over three years for a contestable fund to support new ways of operating, cross-sector partnerships, and create new ways to add value to the economy, particularly through digital exports. This will include supporting innovative approaches to Māori art forms and traditional knowledge.

Cultural Capability Fund: $20 million for a focus on immediate needs in response to COVID-19, such as legal services, online delivery and audience development.

New Zealand Music Recovery Fund: $16.5 million specifically directed towards the contemporary popular music industry (including $7.1 million to boost NZ on Air's New Music programmes, $5 million for a Live Music Touring Fund, $3 million immediate support for safe music venues which will be administered by the NZ Music Commission, and $1.4 million to help musicians recoup lost income via Outward Sounds and NZ Music Month.)

The government expects the New Zealand Music Recovery Fund to help sustain 2900 jobs over two years, produce 455 new song releases and 150 live music tours throughout New Zealand.

To find out more visit this link.

i-SITE and Visitor Information Centre hours


All our visitor centres are open, with the following hours:

Thames i-SITE:  Monday to Friday 9:30am – 3pm. Saturday and Sunday– closed.

Whitianga i-SITE: Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 4pm. Sunday – closed.

Coromandel Town Visitor Centre: 7 days a week, 10am-3:00pm.

Tairua Information Centre:  Monday-Friday 9:30am - 4pm. Saturday 10am-1pm. Sunday – closed.

Pauanui Information Centre: Monday – Saturday 9:30am-4pm. Sunday – 10am-4pm.

Whangamata Information Centre:  Monday – closed. Tuesday – Sunday 9am – 2pm.

For more information on our visitor centres and on visiting the Coromandel, go to the website of Destination Coromandel, our regional tourism marketing organisation.


A labour of love at Whiti Farm Park

(Photo - Whiti Farm Park has rebounded from a year of challenges)
COVID-19 and the challenges it has brought to 2020 have stretched businesses across the Coromandel, with hospitality and the tourism sectors among the hardest hit.
Local tourism business Whiti Farm Park has had it's share of challenges this year.  Owners Ronnie and Stephen James have had to contend with the hit COVID-19 has thrown at them. On back of challenges of the summer drought and feed shortages, followed by a 100-year storm that wiped out a good swathe of the property.
The James faced the challenges with courage and have come out other side, having just experienced a record Labour Weekend. We catch up with them on the year and its new online marketing focus, later in this newsletter.
Also in this Economic Development Update:
Hauraki Rail Trail - Te Aroha to Matamata extension opens
Fullers Ferry returns to the Coromandel
Free business advisor drop-in sessions
Economic intelligence - Waikato region
COVID-19 business support funding
Looking for staff? These leads could help
Funding available for arts and culture recovery
Destination Coromandel annual report
Our Coromandel magazine - out now
Events update
i-SITE and Visitor Information Centre hours
**Sign up for our ED Update Newsletter**
If you have been forwarded this newsletter, and you'd like to be on our mailing list to receive future updates direct to your inbox, you can sign up here and make sure you check the box for 'economic development'.
Close encounters of the animal kind

It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Whiti Farm Park this year, but spring has bought the arrival of many baby animals, and fresh energy and anticipation for a busy summer ahead.
As well as battling with COVID-19 lockdowns, which stopped the flow of domestic and international tourists this year, owners Ronnie and Stephen James had to contend with the summer drought, closely followed by a one-in-100-year flood, which wiped out much of their property.
The flood in late May/June also washed away some of the ground work the couple had done during the first lockdown in preparation to open stage three of the park - a dream that had been on the horizon since they launched 13 years ago.
 

Ronnie and Stephen (pictured left) are no strangers to hard work. When they first moved to the property they spent five years draining the swampy land, scrub clearing, fencing and re-grassing.
“We’ve built this from nothing essentially,” Ronnie says of the 85-acre property.
“At first, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to afford to make it a farm,” she says.
They perservered and after collecting more than 50 different species of farmyard, exotic and domesticated animals/birds and reptiles,  Whiti Farm Park opened in December 2007.  The James have never looked back.
 

Ronnie says the farm’s fans range from aged 2 to 82, and they cater for families, school groups, bus tours, birthday parties and other functions. There’s a giant trampoline and rope swing on site, and with picnic tables and a bbq available, they encourage guests to roam around, feeding and petting the animals and enjoying a relaxed day out.
“We have very reasonable entry prices so that our park can be available to families on any budget,” Ronnie says.
“We don't have a cafe and would rather encourage people to pack a good old-fashioned picnic and enjoy the things we did as children. We provide a place that gets kids out of the house, off their devices and out into the great outdoors. We teach them to love, care and respect animals and also encourage them to play, learn and have fun with their imaginations,” she says.
“Once through the gate, you can stay as long as you like, and we love it when we see people enjoying the park so much. It's the smiles on their faces that make all our hard work worthwhile.”
 

Like most Coromandel tourism operators, the farm park has in recent years enjoyed growth of the ‘shoulder season’ for tourism,  with a busy summer starting in early December running through to the end of March.
Summer of 2019/2020 saw the James contend with a drought, which meant very little grass growth, as well as feed and water shortages.
Hot on the heels was COVID-19, which wasn’t a typical lockdown for this tourism business. While visitors disappeared, the animals still needed to be fed, cleaned and cared for.
We had to carry on at the park as usual, with the same expenses and work to be done, just without the visitors and the income,” Ronnie says, referring to income lost from the April school holidays in particular.
But they put the time to good use, with Stephen working away on a digger developing new sections of the property for visitors to experience.

Unfortunately there’s nothing to show for that since the flood hit – one day after it had reopened after the COVID lockdown.
While the farm gets one or two floods most winters, the latest exceeded all previous benchmarks. Flood water was level with the road, wiping out 30 per cent of the farm’s fences, destroying landscaping and creating a huge and overwhelming mess of the property generally. It took six weeks to tidy up to a stage where they could reopen, but still there is more to do.
The James are grateful for all of the community support with the clean-up. “We had wonderful support with community working bees, where people we didn’t even know, locally and further afield, giving us a hand,” she says.
The farm also received help and advice from Rural Support and Environment Waikato. They were fantastic in lending a hand and auctioning help from a local arborist to clear the clogged stream. They later returned to help with plantings to stabilise the bank of the stream. (see photo above).
 

The farm park had just recovered and re-opened for a successful few weeks when then second wave of COVID restrictions in August saw Auckland back in lockdown, and visitor flows halted once again.
While the farm gets great support from locals, Ronnie says out-of-towners, particularly Aucklanders, are their largest market. (International visitors made up just 15-20 per cent)
Despite what’s behind them, brighter days are ahead. Ronnie says business over the September school holidays was fantastic as people came to see the baby animals and enjoyed holidaying at home. “It was like the middle of Christmas here,” she says.
“Our visitors were just so happy and they seemed thrilled just to be away from the city.”
She thinks COVID has helped foster a new appreciation for the park and it’s laid-back, rustic feeling and says the park is benefitting from a resurgence of Kiwis exploring their own backyard.
 

Labour Weekend was twice as busy as last year, and Ronnie anticipates summer will follow suit. It’s been just the two of them working on the farm until now, with occasional help from volunteers over summer. They may now have to look at taking on a staff member to help them through the season.
They will amp up their advertising locally and nationally after being announced as the Waikato winners of the people’s choice award in the Stuff and 2degrees Business Shop Local competition. They've received a $20,000 advertising package to promote the farm park locally and nationally and get the word out about what the farm park has to offer.
Ronnie says the money will also go towards repairing fences and shelters destroyed by the flooding. It would help us pay for animal feed and allow us to complete stage three of our plan for the park.
The business has also received a $2,000 social media package grant through Te Waka's Regional Business Partners Network, which has seen them receive coaching on how to improve their social media presence. “It’s been really helpful,” Ronnie says. Check out the Whiti Farm Park on Facebook on @WhitiFarmPark
As if running a farm is not busy enough, Ronnie also has a natural skin care business Genie in a Jar, which sees her travel to visit trade shows to market her moisturing body scrub and light moisturiser made from essential oils and marine derivatives.  Genieinajar.co.nz
Whitifarmpark.co.nz
2414 State Highway 25 RD 1 Tairua - Whitianga Road (between Coroglen and Whitianga)
Open seven days 10am-4pm
Ph 07 8662349
 
Hauraki Rail Trail - Te Aroha to Matamata Official Opening

The much anticipated new Te Aroha to Matamata extension of the Hauraki Rail Trail is almost complete, with an official opening this weekend to celebrate this fabulous new attraction for the region.
The celebrations will take place on Sunday 1 November at 9.00am at Te Aroha Railway Station.
The Hauraki Rail Trail extensions are a $7.5 million project and a joint venture between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and Hauraki and Matamata-Piako District Councils.  Matamata-Piako District Council received $3,786,367 from MBIE’s Enhancing the Great Ride Fund to extend the trail from Te Aroha to Matamata and from Pūkorokoro-Miranda to Kaiaua.
Both extensions are due for completion in December 2020, with Section E construction works largely completed, and landscaping and signage underway.  The extensions will be a valuable addition to the community, generating visitor numbers to our regions and providing health and wellness benefits to residents.
The Hauraki Rail Trail is now 160kms long reaching Kaiaua in the North, Waihi in the East and South to Matamata. The trail also extends to Thames - through the township, rich in goldmining and pioneering history, and taking in the pohutukawa trees on the expansive Thames Coast. A second celebration will be held later in the year for the northern extension from Pūkorokoro-Miranda to Kaiaua where works are ongoing.
Hauraki Rail Trail Chief Executive Diane Drummond says the public are welcome to attend the dawn blessing ceremonies, which will be attended by dignatories and iwi partners this weekend. These will take place at the Te Aroha and Matamata ends of the trail simultaneously at 5.30am - at the Te Aroha Railway Station, and beside the Oaks on Broadway near the Matamata i-SITE.
Later in the morning after the blessings, there will be speeches from key dignitaries, the infamous ribbon cutting at Te Aroha by iwi partners, and cake cutting by the three Mayors of the neighbouring districts, including our own Mayor Sandra Goudie.
Cafes will be open in Te Aroha, Te Aroha West, Manawaru, Firth Tower and Matamata for breakfast after the speeches.
"We look forward to welcoming you all to the new trail," Diane says.
"Unfortunately under the COVID-19 Level 1 protocols there won’t be an organised ride for this event as we have enjoyed in the past.  COVID-19 has prevented the Hauraki Rail Trail Trust from providing a shuttle service to cater for riders on this occasion.  Riders may however organise their own group ride event," she says.
haurakirailtrail.co.nz
Fullers Ferry returns to the Coromandel

In preparation for a summer without international visitors, Fullers360 is launching a set of new and improved products and services, specifically tailored to the local, domestic market.
This includes bringing the Coromandel services back on stream for the first time since the COVID-19 level four lockdown in March. The Auckland-to-Coromandel service is now back in operation, along side the Auckland-to--Rotoroa Island service, also on the Hauraki Gulf. 
Fullers360 chief executive Mike Horne says that summer is the perfect opportunity to reignite domestic tourism and to bring Fullers360’s recovery strategy for the Hauraki Gulf to life.
“Given the current limitations on international travel, our focus this year has been on reinvigorating our products and services to appeal to the domestic market and to make the Hauraki Gulf as accessible as possible," he says.
“Summer is typically an incredibly busy period of the year for the tourism sector. However, with the decline in international tourism this year, we are hopeful these initiatives will support local economies around the Gulf and give retailers and tourism operators a well needed boost.”
Alongside its other ticketing options, Fullers360 will be trialling self-service kiosks on Pier 2 of the Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal until the end of January 2021. The kiosks will provide self-service technology which seeks to reduce and prevent queuing on the wharf at peak times and give passengers more choice when planning their journeys.
Find out more at fullers.co.nz and information on what it offers in the Coromandel at fullers.co.nz/destinations/coromandel
Free business advisor sessions available

Free business advisor drop-in sessions are held regularly in Thames, Whitianga, Whangamata and Coromandel Town.
Te Waka, in partnership with our Council, organises for business advisors to visit our district for these free, one-on-one sessions. The advisors take a birds-eye look at your whole business then help you connect with the right resources and experts so you can build capability and thrive.
Advisors can offer assistance in cashflow management and finance, human resources, health and wellness and business continuity planning and any other areas of need. They will refer business owners to helpful resources including where to go for government assistance.
Upcoming sessions.
Thames: (Monthly) First Tuesday afternoon of the month. Next session: 3 November from 12pm to 4pm at our Council’s service centre at 515 Mackay St Thames.
Whitianga: (Monthly) Second Wednesday morning of the month with the next session on Wednesday, 11 November from 10am to 12pm at our Council’s service centre at 10 Monk St, Whitianga
Whangamata: (Monthly) Second Wednesday afternoon of the month with the next session on Wednesday, 11 November from from 2:30pm - 4:30pm at our Council’s service centre at 620 Port Rd, Whangamata
Coromandel Town: (Monthly) on the second Tuesday of the month with the next session on Tuesday 10 November from 12pm-5pm at our Council's service centre at 355 Kapanga Rd, Coromandel Town.
In the meantime, the advisory service is still offered online via ZOOM.  To secure a slot, visit www.tewaka.nz or call 07 857 0538 or email businessgrowth@tewaka.nz
Economic intelligence - Waikato region
Te Waka, our regional economic development agency for Waikato, publishes a range of economic reports which highlight the key indicators and trends of the Waikato economy. You'll find these online at waikato.com.
 

Read the monthly Waikato Economic Radar for October 2020 here.
COVID-19 fund
Since the March lockdown, Te Waka has helped over 1,800 businesses access the Government COVID-19 fund.
There's still funding available for businesses for help with human resources, employee relations, business continuity planning, finance and cashflow management, marketing and digital enablement. Get in touch by emailing businessgrowth@tewaka.nz
Find out more about COVID-19 business support funding here
Looking for staff? These leads could help
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) invites employers to get in touch about opportunities to employ staff and support packages and training.
Please contact Liz Sydney at liz.sydney001@msd.govt.nz
Some of the support programmes are available at this link.
MSD has a team monitoring the inbox below that can work in the employment space so will be able to support with staff. Construct_Waikato@msd.govt.nz
FutureForce® Job Board
Each year in Waikato approximately 5,800 students leave high school and hundreds more complete their tertiary study.
Any businesses expecting to have entry level jobs, cadetships, apprenticeships, traineeships available over the summer holidays or next year should be thinking about targeting these young people now before they leave their educational institutions for end of year exams.
Smart Waikato’s FutureForce® Job Board is free for Waikato employers to promote workplace opportunities directly to job-seekers and students through Waikato-based work brokers, school careers advisors and educators (secondary and tertiary).  List a job here: https://futureforce.nz/job-board/list-a-job/
Waikato:  Waikato Nxtstep is a free job-matching website for the Waikato region to support business owners and employees through COVID-19. Check it out here: https://waikato.nxtstep.co.nz/
He Waka Eke Noa is a link between buyers and employment. www.wen.org.nz/
Destination Coromandel Annual Report: Tale of two halves

The following is a media release from Destination Coromandel - the Regional Tourism Organisation for Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki Districts.
The Coromandel region suffered a significant economic setback in the final months of the 2019/20 financial year. Overall visitor spend decreased by 7.5 per cent when compared to the previous year, mostly due to a $50 million drop in spend in March and April. While COVID-19 restrictions only arrived in the last quarter, the impact has dominated all other results.
The $459 million total spend for 2019/20 took us back two years, however tourism was already slowing and Destination Coromandel had been anticipating a smaller increase as suggested in our previous annual report.
Destination Coromandel endeavoured to build on the success of the previous domestic marketing campaigns that addressed seasonality and regional spread. An increase in $5 million spend from domestic travellers for the target period made for an impressive start to the 2019/20 financial year.
The Winter Wellness campaign challenged perceptions of The Coromandel solely being a summer beach destination. Local food, art and retail therapy helped deliver on the #goodforyoursoul proposition.
The Hauraki Rail Trail 'Take it Easy' campaign was arguably the best campaign that the regional tourism organisation has produced. An increase of 11 per cent in web traffic and 89 per cent in page views with almost 3,000 product referrals providing an impressive conversion rate for engaged tourism businesses. The final domestic campaign was pulled within days of launching due to introduction of COVID-19 into our lives.
International activity was also a tale of two halves with 67 agents hosted from our key markets in the first six months. In the second six months, major travel trade events such as eXplore and TRENZ were cancelled, immediate impacts multiplying with a long road to recovery ahead.
Likewise, the two i-SITES that Destination Coromandel manage on behalf of Thames Coromandel District Council felt the dramatic change COVID-19 brought. The i-SITE team worked under pressure and uncertainty while it was safe to do so before closing, only to reopen to a much quieter existence post lockdown.
Destination Coromandel trustee chairperson John Sandford often reminds the marketing and sales team to reflect on their work but concedes that it’s a harder ask when there’s so much work ahead. “The team are working on the first summer campaign we’ve ever released and they are also taking on additional responsibility afforded through the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme fund. The next twelve months will be a very challenging time, but there’s no shortage of opportunity to progress broader goals beyond the economic impacts of tourism,” Mr Sanford says.
Destination Coromandel has been pleasantly surprised by the level of post-lockdown visitation that included a record July with $30 million spent compared with July 2019 at $23 million.
This has provided some confidence for the summer months when the region is inviting travellers to the place “Where Kiwis Holiday”.
Read the Destination Coromandel Annual Report 2019-2020 here.
Funding available for arts and culture recovery

Funding is available through the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (MCH) for the cultural sector.
Ten funds have been released in the Arts and Culture COVID Recovery programme, as listed below:
$2 million Museum hardship fund
$18 million Te Papa
$25 million to support the creative sector through their Emergency Response Package
$70 million for Creative Arts Recovery and Employment Fund
$60 million for Cultural Innovation Fund
$20 million for Cultural Capacity Fund
$7.9 million for programme supporting people back into the creative sector and sustainable work
$16.5 millionfor New Zealand music fund
$12 million for Pasifika Culture and Heritage Fund
$20 million for Mātauranga Māori initiatives
The rest of the money in the recent MCH announcement will be divided among the four new funds:
Creative Arts Recovery and Employment Fund: $70 million over three years for supporting the rebuild of the creative industries by commissioning and supporting creative projects at a national and local level.
Cultural Innovation Fund: $60 million over three years for a contestable fund to support new ways of operating, cross-sector partnerships, and create new ways to add value to the economy, particularly through digital exports. This will include supporting innovative approaches to Māori art forms and traditional knowledge.
Cultural Capability Fund: $20 million for a focus on immediate needs in response to COVID-19, such as legal services, online delivery and audience development.
New Zealand Music Recovery Fund: $16.5 million specifically directed towards the contemporary popular music industry (including $7.1 million to boost NZ on Air's New Music programmes, $5 million for a Live Music Touring Fund, $3 million immediate support for safe music venues which will be administered by the NZ Music Commission, and $1.4 million to help musicians recoup lost income via Outward Sounds and NZ Music Month.)
The government expects the New Zealand Music Recovery Fund to help sustain 2900 jobs over two years, produce 455 new song releases and 150 live music tours throughout New Zealand.
To find out more visit this link.