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Economic Development Update - Local entreprensurs mask up

04 September 2020

Face masks are an item many of us didn’t think we’d be shopping for this year – among the many ways life has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Photo - A selection of the bold, Kiwiana-themed reusable face masks made by Greenhills Paradise Products)

Face masks are an item many of us didn’t think we’d be shopping for this year – among the many ways life has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now compulsory on public transport across the country, there has been a big rise in demand for face masks across our district since the reintroduction of alert levels last month.

Many entrepreneurial Coromandel locals have jumped on the opportunity to create home-made, reusable masks to meet that demand.

One is Greenhills Paradise Products in Coromandel Town, whose bold-print, reusable mask creations were inspired by reducing waste from disposable masks going to landfill.

We catch up with Greenhills in our business profile below, and have shared details of some other local mask makers we are aware of, if you're looking to buy Coromandel-made.

If you’re making face masks, let us know and we can share your contact information on

Last day for business sentiment survey

Have you taken five minutes to fill in our business sentiment survey?

We want to hear how our local businesses are faring in the current environment through some quick, online questions which will help develop support programmes and services for the future.

Today is the last day to complete the short, confidential survey. which you’ll find online here

Also in this Economic Development Update:

  • Business profile - Greenhills Paradise Products
  • Your options to buy-local with face masks
  • Business sentiment survey - closing today
  • Free business advisor drop-in sessions 
  • Business support from Te Waka
  • Waikato Economic Radar
  • Where Kiwis Holiday - summer campaign
  • Events update
  • Exempt building work - public sessions
  • Sports organisations offered support 
  • 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'.


Keeping masks out of landfill - Greenhills Paradise Products

Reducing the number of masks going to landfill was the impetus for what’s become a busy trade sewing  bold- patterened, reusable cotton facemasks.

Jo Sanderson is the founding member who spearheaded the ‘Pick it up Now’ project  - a grassroots initiative encouraging people to pick up rubbish rather than walk past it. More information:

She didn’t want her family to be contributing more waste to landfill with disposable face masks, so she set about making reusable masks in early August, sharing the finished product on Facebook - Greehills Paradise Products, which was met with a chorus of demand from followers.

Jo has been busy sewing ever since, making masks daily, so far in the order of about one dozen a day.

Having enjoyed patchwork over the years, Jo had lots of  fabric on-hand, but has been buying more to make the double-layered, cotton masks she sells for $10 each through Facebook.  

Although she’s crafty, Jo says she has never made things to sell before.

“The response has been amazing, coming from nothing," she says. "It's been about saving masks to landfill, not about the money," she says.

A range of sizes suit children to adults, and the patterned fabrics offer self expression, with Kiwiana themes and a New Zealand flavour. 

“They are masks to make a statement in a social setting,” she says.

Jo is a full-time carer for her husband, and fits the mask-making in around this. While she could be busier with more promotion, she says she is largely doing it for pleasure. 

Among her other ventures, Jo is taking steps towards having a range of products grown and made from her ‘Greenhills Paradise’ home where she is developing an urban food forest in Coromandel Town, inspired by permaculture and the desire to be self-sustaining. Follow her journey on Facebook: Greenhills Paradise

To check our her masks, visit Facebook: Greenhills Paradise Products or email

Plenty of options to buy local face masks

A host of local mask makers have sprung up, many having first made masks for their families, before responding to community demand. 

Here's a selection we've spotted, if you're keen to buy local.

Susan Cooksley – Whangamata
Susan Cooksley set out to make washable masks for her family and researched a pattern for four-layer masks - two layers of cotton with two layers of a non-woven filter in between (which stops the microbes going through).  Her masks have a metal nose piece to help them fit close to the face. “I was wearing them in Whangamata, and people saw and asked me about them," she says, which was the impetus to offer them more widely. She’s now selling masks for $15 each. Susan is also making velcro shopping trolley handle covers wrap around supermarket trolley handles while shopping. 
Contact: You’ll find Susan Cooksley on Facebook and you can send a message to ask about her products.

Lynette Mackenzie – Thames
Lynnette also made her first masks for her family, but when her adult children shared them on their Facebook pages last month, it sparked enough interest that she’s been sewing them everyday since. These are three-layer masks, shaped to your face with an elastic ear piece. They come in different sizes and sell for $15 for adult masks and $10 for children's (plus postage).
Contact: If you’re interested in one of Lynette’s masks, contact her on Facebook Messenger or email

Mac and Molly May Masks – Lorraine Dwyer – Waiomu
A couture and bridal tailor of 40 years, Lorraine says sewing is the love of her life. When her daughter asked her to make her a face mask in the early days of COVID-19, and then posted it on Facebook, it was the start of a new venture that’s seen her flat out making masks – 212 in the last two weeks alone. People contact her online and she sends photos of her range of fabrics to choose from, then the masks are made and delivered the next day. The washable masks have a cotton and filter layer and are made with nose wires and embroidery is available. Lorraine says she likes to be creative and this week she made a mask from avocado fabric as a Father’s Day gift for an avocado farmer.  Prices range from $15 plus postage.
Contact: Lorraine can be contacted via Facebook on her pages Mac and Molly May or Lorraine Dwyer Couture where you’ll find her email and phone details.

Beth Hornsby-Hunt – Whitianga
Beth’s cotton, triple-layer masks include can include wire across the nose or elastic behind the head. These come in three sizes: Adult male ($20), female/teen ($20) or kids ($15). Pick up in Whitianga or they can be posed for $5 nationally.
Contact: Beth can be reached on 0223740442 or through Instagram @ludolillicustom.

TaylorJane Davis – Tairua
These washable masks are a team effort between Taylor Jane and her grandmother. Made with three layers from 100 per cent cotton fabric, they have a pocket to insert an optional filter. Currently available in black. Priced at $12 per mask plus $3 postage. Bulk orders available.
Contact: Via Facebook (TaylorJaneDavis) or 021 1264074

Emma and Jenny - Thames
This mother-and-daughter team is making triple-layered, cotton masks with a filter insert pocket. They have an adjustable ear piece and a removable nose wire. The masks are available in a variety of patterns for $15 plus postage or pick-up in Thames. Contact: Phone Jenny on 0274929296 

If you're making face masks and you'd like us to promote your offering, please send your name and contact details to

A reminder that masks must be worn on public transport.

In our district, we have the Thames Connector public bus service within the Thames township and public ferries such as the Whitianga Ferry,the Tairua/Pauanui Ferry and the Fullers Auckland-to-Coromandel Ferry. Please remember to wear a mask when using these services.

Local businesses - last chance for our business sentiment survey today

COVID-19 has created uncertain times for businesses and we want to hear how you're faring right now.

We’ve partnered with Te Waka, our Waikato regional economic agency, on its latest business sentiment survey to find out information on staffing, support needs and outlook for the year ahead.

You may have received an email from us already, with a link to the confidential, online survey, which takes about five minutes to complete.

You can take the survey here 

The survey closes today, Friday September 4.

Your responses will help us to develop support programmes and services that best meet the needs of our business community

In the meantime, the Team at Te Waka is available to offer support and advice on navigating this uncertain period. Give them a call on 07 857 0538 or email to learn more of the financial support packages and business support services that continue to be available to business.

Free business advisor sessions return to the Coromandel

After a break due to lockdown, free business advisor drop-in sessions are back this month and are now offered beyond Thames to Whitianga, Whangamata and Coromandel Town.

Waikato’s regional economic development agency 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.

A number of businesses attended the first session back in Thames on Tuesday. Upcoming sessions are as follows. 

  • Thames: (Monthly) First Tuesday afternoon of the month. Next session: 6 October from 12pm to 4pm at our Council’s service centre at 515 Mackay St Thames.
  • Whitianga: (Bimonthly) Second Wednesday morning of the month starting on Wednesday, 9 September from 10am to 12pm at our Council’s service centre at 10 Monk St, Whitianga
  • Whangamata: (Bimonthly) Second Wednesday afternoon of the month starting on Wednesday, 9 September from 2:30pm - 4:40pm at our Council’s service centre at 620 Port Rd, Whangamata
  • Coromandel Town: (Bimonthly - alternating with the Whitianga dates above) on the second Wednesday of the month starting on October 14 at our Council's service centre at 355 Kapanga Rd, Coromandel Town (time TBC).

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

Business support from Te Waka

Here are some updates on business support from our Waikato regional economic development agency, Te Waka.

New digital platform for the Waikato region

The new website is our region’s online portal of information for all things business in Waikato - from business advisory services for startups and small businesses to information about moving your business to the Waikato and investing in the region.

Through this new platform, Te Waka champions the region, celebrates our people, our successes and demonstrates why it's so good to live and work in Waikato. is also where you can learn about the initiatives Te Waka is working on to help our economy thrive and drive the Waikato forward. Te Waka’s quarterly economic reports, monthly radar documents and commentary are available online as part of a regional resource centre and economic profile snapshot.

Some great resources for business

Small Business Toolkit
The Small Business Toolkit is designed to help businesses access the resources they need to get good advice in key areas of business.

COVID-19 webinars on demand
Tune into a range of webinars on-demand as experts share their knowledge and expertise to address specific issues affecting your business today. You'll find them here

Waikato Story Toolkit
Whether you already have a strong brand, or are just starting out, you can use the resources in this toolkit to strengthen your unique business proposition.

Economic intelligence - Waikato Economic Radar

Te Waka publishes a range of economic intelligence reports which highlight the key indicators and trends of the Waikato economy, and provide expert insight and opinion.

The radar is now published monthly. 

You can view the latest radar for August here

Where Kiwis holiday - summer tourism marketing campaign

Destination Coromandel is excited to deliver the first-ever summer campaign for The Coromandel 'Where Kiwis Holiday', early this month.

The campaign aims to reignite past summer activity by stimulating the desire to visit and increasing the value visitors bring to The Coromandel over our peak season. 

"We know that our region and our visitor industry, in particular, needs the best possible summer to adapt to the changing travel environment and the absence of international visitors. The Coromandel must work hard to maintain visitor numbers - the lifeline for our industry - so there will be strong promotion prior to summer," Destination Coromandel says in a recent media release. 

Where Kiwis Holiday will remind visitors what they love about summers in The Coromandel, why it is a no-brainer to make plans for this summer, and will whet their appetite with activities they may not even know about.

The campaign will run from early September to the end of February in several phases of activity.

Find out more in the media release from Destination Coromandel here.

Events update

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment announced this week that 200 events across New Zealand will be receiving a share of a cash-injection of just under $10 million from the Domestic Events Fund.

Large parts of the events industry, including the critical supply chain, continue to experience COVID-19 related impacts due to reductions in sponsorship and trust funding, and Alert Level restrictions on gatherings. In response, the Government announced the establishment of a Domestic Events Fund in Budget 2020. 

There were three recipients of the fund for our District, Mito-Q K2, Repco Beach Hop and Whitianga Summer Concert.

For further details regarding the fund and to see the full list of recipients see the MBIE website.

If you are attending any local events, please remember to keep yourself safe, practice social distancing, good hand washing and use the COVID-19 tracking app

Stay up-to-date with our events calendar

The return of COVID-19 alert levels last month left local event organisers, once-again, disrupted by restrictions on gatherings of more than 100 people.

Our Council acknowledges the difficulty facing event professionals in this uncertain environment – just as the events calendar was roaring back to life. We have an events page updated with what is still going on, postponements or cancellations here.

Sign up to our weekly events newsletter to stay informed on the calendar of events in our district.


Calling those in the building trade

If you're a builder, developer, planner, architect, designer, real estate agent or DIY-er, you may like to attend one of the public meetings coming up to find out about the new exempt building rules. More information below.

Sports organisations offered support

A second phase of a recovery package to help recreation and sports organisations get back on their feet following the COVID-19 lockdown has been released.

The Sport NZ Community Resilience Fund is being administered in our region by Sport Waikato, in partnership with Sport NZ.

Sport Waikato chief executive Matthew Coopers says the fund aims to provide financial support to play, active recreation or sport organisations who are experiencing financial hardship in the period 1 July to 30 September 2020, as a result of Covid-19.

It’s available now and applications close at 5pm on Friday 4 September 2020.

Guidelines apply, and you can find out more about these here.

If you need further help, please phone Stephanie on 0272785290, or contact Sport NZ on

i-SITES and Visitor Information Centres

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.