Friday, 17 September 2021- Bryce C Heard Letter to Ministers Re MIQ Facilities in Rotorua

Tena koutou Prime Minister and Ministers

MIQ services at Rotorua

My board has asked me to write and advise you of the very strong reaction that the Rotorua Business Community is expressing, against MBIE’s plans to add more MIQ hotel services in Rotorua.

We recognize the essential nature of the service, the need to provide space for New Zealanders overseas to return home (along with essential workers and their families) and we also appreciate the hard mahi that Auckland is doing at the present time.

Our understanding of the present situation is that the following cities are carrying the MIQ load for New Zealand.

Auckland        17        Population      1,572,000

Christchurch  6          Population     383,000

Hamilton        3          Population     177,000

Rotorua          3          Population     70,000

Wellington     2          Population     215,000

The concentration of MIQ’s in Rotorua is clearly much higher than any other city per head of population and this is putting an unacceptable level of pressure on our city services, including and especially Lakes District Health Board. It is our understanding that if just five people were to be admitted to Rotorua Hospital with Covid, our health facility would be considered to be dangerously overwhelmed.

Other larger cities than Rotorua, such as Tauranga (151,000), Dunedin (126,00) and Napier (116,000), among others, are not carrying any share of this national contribution to the COVID effort.

Additionally, Rotorua’s prime economic driver is (or was) Tourism. This is not so of any of the other major cities in NZ, (except Queenstown who only has 23,000 people).

As a part of our COVID recovery plan, the Rotorua tourism and hospitality sector have accelerated their efforts to attract and deliver major events and conferences in the city.  This has been working well and is utilizing our excellent facilities and chain of eleven higher-end hotels and providing a much-needed boost to our local economy. Of the city's eleven hotels, three are already taken by MIQ and any further losses will seriously undermine the recovery strategy.

As a related aside, a large amount of Rotorua commercial accommodation is currently occupied with emergency housing, which has created a number of economic and social issues.

In totality, the business sector is carrying an immense load as we seek to survive and recover through COVID and there are undeniable signs that our limit has been exceeded. Casualties are now occurring among our membership of 500 businesses, and elsewhere as well.

At the same time, the presence of MIQ facilities in our city means we have an extremely high risk of a community outbreak of the virus in an extremely vulnerable population.  An additional MIQ facility would increase this risk exponentially.

At our board meeting on Tuesday 14th September, concerns around a potential fourth MIQ was discussed, followed by a vote. Eleven members were opposed to more MIQ in Rotorua and one member abstained for conflicting reasons.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Tamati Coffey for attending that hui to provide an update on a range of different topics, including MIQ.

In summary, Rotorua is doing more than its share to contribute to the national COVID effort and feels very strongly that enough is enough.

We appreciate your consideration of our situation.

Ma te mihi ki o whakaaro

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive

Rotorua Business Chamber



Friday, 10 September 2021- New Zealand Business Should Celebrate

Today Government injected $430m into the NZ economy to assist business in meeting the cost of overheads during lockdown.

There is also the prospect of two further payments so long as the conditions that trigger the resurgent support payment still apply. (A prospect of a total of more than $1b.)

Bryce Heard from Rotorua Business Chamber said he was delighted with the outcome. We were hearing stories of desperation from business. The Auckland Chamber led a petition to Government for additional business support. That petition received close to 60,000 supporters.

Heard said, “The Chambers worked alongside other business organisations with our petition.”

We had a positive hearing from Minister Robertson and Minister Nash and are delighted with the result.”


Monday, 6 September 2021- Q & A with Hon Stuart Nash

Join us for a conversation with the Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Tourism and Minister of Small and Medium Businesses. CEO Michael Barnett and a selection of Chamber CEO's will be putting forward a range of questions, with a particular focus on the support for small and medium businesses during our current lockdown.


Thursday, 1 September 2021- Is It Time That Employees Are Offered A Similar Package To Employees?

The Northern Chambers have a meeting with Minister Stuart Nash on Friday morning. We think that it is time that the Government supported SME’s/employers/businesses as well as employees, through the latest series of lockdowns. We need your support to make something positive happen!
 To help us, please read and sign the below member petition. 





Monday, 23 August - Back in Lockdown

It is a bitter blow to business and the whole of society, to be back in lockdown. Any COVID in the community, is by definition, a failure of the border control system. But here we are, so let’s do this lockdown properly and get it over with. NSW has shown us how NOT to do it in a half-hearted manner. The consequences to us will be similar if we are half-hearted about complying with the rules. This bug is vicious and takes no prisoners.

At the Chamber we are all working from home and doing our best to keep members informed of the situation regarding employment and government support available. We are posting on FB, running webinars, and maintaining updated info on our website.

Events are being temporarily postponed as necessary, but we are working with an expectation that everyone will play their part and we will get back to something resembling “normal” in a short space of time.

In the context of “everyone playing their part” we mean both the public and the border control/government in this team of 5 million, that makes up our country. The Prime Minister is urging us all to follow the rules and we are 100% behind her! We in turn urge government to speed up the national vaccination process and tighten up the border controls please.

Meantime, stay safe and feel free to call us for any support you may need.

Bryce and the team at the Chamber.

Friday, 13 August 2021 - Annual General Meeting 2021

The Annual General Meeting for the Rotorua Business Chamber was held at the Pullman, Rotorua, on Thursday, 5 August.
Chamber President, Kiri Tahana, said: “Our membership is diverse with broad and varied interests. Our challenge is to advocate for the collective interest."
Her Worship, the Mayor of Rotorua, Hon Steve Chadwick, spoke on how Rotorua has come together and thrived through trying times during the past year.
Bryce C Heard, Chief Executive of the Chamber, reported on another year of stellar growth for the Chamber and thanked members and sponsors for their extraordinary support over the year.

The Rotorua Business Chamber is delighted to announce the newly elected board members for 2021:

  • Bruce Thomasen

  • Miriam Hewson

  • Dr Leon Fourie

  • Brent Whibley

  • Geoff Rice

  • Kiri Tahana

  • Jacky James

  • Glenn Tasker

Co-opted board members are:

  • Frank Zhou

  • Michelle Urquhart

  • John McRae

  • Annie Canning


Monday, 19 July 2021 - Immigration New Zealand continue to struggle with the impact of COVID19

Last week’s announcement about the relaxation of the rules for employer supported Essential Skills work visas has highlighted the ongoing impact of COVID19 on a beleaguered Immigration New Zealand.

Dropping the requirement for labour marketing testing, proof of character and health compliance and employment agreements for migrant staff who wish to continue to work for their current employer is a welcome respite for employers desperate to retain skilled staff.  Also welcome is the extension of visas for lower-skilled workers from a 12 month period to 24 months.  However, these changes have delayed the rollout of the much-lauded Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme, initially announced back in 2019.

This scheme will split the single application process for an employer-specific work visa into 3 checks, 2 of which will be employer-driven.  Any employer wanting to employ migrants on a work visa will have to be accredited first.  The way an employer will meet the labour market test will also be changed and for businesses in Rotorua it will become easier to comply.

Originally due to begin on 1 November 2021, last week’s announcements have meant there will be a lower uptake of visas under the new scheme, according to the Minister of Immigration Chris Faafoi.  He said that as a result, the AEWV scheme will be delayed until 2022.

The changes to the existing work visa scheme have been made under the special powers given to the Minister under the COVID19 emergency legislation passed in the wake of the 2020 lockdown.  These emergency measures allow for a quicker response to the pandemic’s ongoing ramifications.

What last week’s announcement also demonstrates is that these ramifications are not diminishing and that New Zealand’s migration policymakers are struggling to be proactive.  This struggle is starkly illustrated by the ongoing silence by the Minister about what is happening with the residence programme.  Whilst these short term measures are a sensible response, there is no long term solution in sight for migrants and employers who are seeking certainty.  Immigration New Zealand has a long way to go before things are back on track as they should be.

Michelle Urquhart

Associate: Tompkins Wake

Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member


Wednesday, 21 July 2021 - Voting Now Open for Chamber Board Member Positions

Online voting for Chamber Board Member positions is now open and closes on Friday 30 July at 4pm. 

The Chamber Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Chamber. We are seeking energetic and intellectual people who represent the makeup of our community and want to make a positive contribution to the future of our city and the business community that serves it.

The successful Chamber Board Members for 2022 will be announced at our AGM on Thursday 5 August at Pullman Rotorua at 5:30-7pm.

Please note that only Rotorua Chamber members can vote.




Monday, 21 June 2021 - The Changing Business Landscape

Over the last year, many business owners will have experienced significant disruption, but also opportunity. I am reminded of a quote by Charles Darwin; ‘It is not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change’.

This is true for businesses and the technological revolution that continues to change the way we live, work, and relate to one another and is anticipated to see greater change in the next five years than the last two hundred years. Artificial intelligence (the simulation of cognitive behaviour where computers will make decisions, solve problems, and understand human communication) is anticipated by 2025 to 2030. This technology will help many businesses meet our customers’ increasing requirement for convenience, however, is anticipated to drive improved focus on our team and our culture, as the way people want to work will change.

As business owners, we have a responsibility to our teams to prepare our businesses for the future. Last year’s disruption probably meant that our traditional Business Plan went into the delete file as our focus moved to creating a new vision and purpose that would enable our businesses to compete in a different future. In these changing and less certain times, having a vision for our businesses and our team is important, however, equally important is an engaged team who will make your vision happen. Advice to me was that if I am not measuring team engagement, then I am not serious about it and - through digital survey tools - I should ask our team the following question several times each year:

 ‘On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend XYZ Company as a place to work/or recommend XYZ Company to a friend or colleague?’

The results will correlate to whether we achieve our vision or not. I hope the advice I received will help other businesses.

Glenn Tasker

Director: Quest Rotorua

Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member



Wednesday, 21 April 2021 - We simply need more houses

When we get an undersupply of any item, the price goes up. This is a basic fact of economics.

We have a chronic shortage of houses in this country, which successive governments have failed to address. Accordingly, the price of houses has continued to go up - and many people cannot now afford to buy a house, not just first home buyers.

When house prices go up, rent goes up as well, because the seller of the rental space must recover his/her costs - or go out of business.

When rent goes up, some can no longer afford the higher prices. The direct result of higher rent is homelessness.

The chronic housing shortage is the common driver of it all.

This is being obfuscated by misguided information and choice of words in the media about “homelessness is a deeply rooted problem”, “closing tax loopholes”, focussing on first home buyers not being able to afford a house, “bright-line tests” (read capital gains tax) and “greedy landlords” – to name just a few, recently in the media.

We simply need more houses.

Rotorua is at the forefront of this shortage.

When we get enough houses, house prices will come down, rents will come down, homelessness (and the associated issues with that) will all come down. A semblance of normality will resume.

Many of the houses that are being built were being built by the much-maligned “property investors”. By closing the so-called “loophole” we have made our NZ residential property owners probably the only business in the world, who are not allowed to claim the interest on their business as a legitimate tax-deductible expense. We have also discouraged the building of new houses and further added to the shortage, thereby fuelling further house and rental costs.

The introduction of a capital gains tax could not come at a worse time. Capital gains taxes have a place, but we should be helping the only group who can cure the housing shortage, rather than penalising them for helping.

Bryce C Heard

CEO: Rotorua Business Chamber



Friday, 10 March 2021 - New headline partner for prestigious Rotorua Business Awards 

Law firm Tompkins Wake has been officially announced as the new headline partner for Rotorua’s biggest annual business event – the Rotorua Business Awards, which celebrate innovation, growth and creativity in the region’s business sector.  

Tompkins Wake has more than 130 staff located in offices in Rotorua, Tauranga and Auckland, and its headquarters in Hamilton, with 20 staff in the Rotorua office. The firm provides a full spectrum of legal services. 

the new partnership team is already working on plans for the 2021 Tompkins Wake Rotorua Business Awards. Entries for the awards will open in May, with the gala awards event set for later in October.

Rotorua Business Chamber CEO Bryce Heard says a comprehensive process was carried out to ensure a mutually beneficial awards partnership that supports the headline partner, the Chamber and its members, entrants, and the wider Rotorua business community. 

“We want to build on the success of the 2020 awards and partnering with Tompkins Wake will help us deliver an awards program that adds value to everyone involved and provides the credibility and integrity that promotes Rotorua on a national stage.” 

Tompkins Wake CEO Jon Calder says the firm is thrilled to partner with the Rotorua Business Chamber for the all-important event. 

This partnership marks another step in our journey of cementing and growing a strong relationship with the Rotorua business community and we look forward to helping make the event even bigger and better in 2021 and the years to come. 

The awards and event process is managed by the Chamber and supported by more than 20 other local partners, sponsors and participating parties. Tompkins Wake Rotorua Partner Andrew Orme is convenor of judges for the awards, and some of his colleagues are expected to help form the judging panel this year. 

 The official awards program commences in May, with entries remaining open until around July 31. A team of independent judges work under a code of conduct to provide a professional, confidential and unbiased assessment of entries. 


Friday, 19 March - Introducing the Chamber's Newest Board Member

With the announcement of the Tompkins Wake Rotorua Business Awards partnership, the Chamber is pleased to announce that we've also gained a new board member.

Introducing Michelle Urquhart.

Michelle is a senior solicitor with Tompkins Wake, working in the area of employment, immigration civil disputes and mediation. In addition to her experience working for another large regional law firm, Michelle also worked for the Ministry of Justice where she was a Disputes Tribunal Referee. Michelle was appointed to the Tribunal in 2014 during her final year of an honours law degree at the Te Piringa Law Faculty of Waikato University.

Michelle is an Associate of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand and an appointed member of the Mediation Panel. She can assist with a wide range of employment, civil, consumer, property and commercial disputes as either an advocate or a mediator. Michelle has a particular interest in cross-cultural disputes and she has specific expertise in employment and immigration matters. Michelle also conducts workplace investigations.

Michelle’s experience prior to becoming a lawyer is in business development, marketing and communications.  Michelle was the owner of a small business in Rotorua, and also held various corporate positions in brand management, e commerce and sales development.  Michelle has a broad range of not for profit governance experience at a regional and national level.




Friday, 19 February 2021 - Covid-19 Vaccines – FAQ for Employers response

Vaccines are already available overseas, with New Zealand slated to start receiving vaccines in April.

 The first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is due to reach New Zealand by April and will first be made available to border staff and essential health workers.

Many employers are asking questions about whether it should be mandatory for employees, including healthcare workers, to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Currently, the law does not allow employers to force staff to get vaccinated, and could not fire them if they did not. The Ministry of Health says the Covid-19 jab will not be mandatory. The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says it will soon update guidance for employers and workers about the employment law implications for the Covid immunisation programme.

We have provided short guidance on the vaccine and employment-related issues below. As always the Chamber recommend employers take a cautionary approach and seek legal advice when considering vaccination issues in the workplace.



No - except in very limited circumstances

It will generally be unlawful to dismiss someone who refuses vaccination, and doing so will present significant risk of a finding of unjustified dismissal, claims of discrimination and breach of the Human Rights Act.

As set out above, in very limited circumstances it may be possible to consider termination of employment where:

  • The employee is in a role that subjected them to significant risk of contracting Covid-19 in their day-to-day duties (e.g. healthcare worker or in the aviation industry);
  • The employer considers all reasonable alternative risk management methods as alternatives to vaccination;
  • The employer considers whether it is reasonable to alter the employee’s duties or redeploy the employee elsewhere in the company as an alternative to vaccination;
  • That the employees reasons for non-vaccination are not a protected ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act or are due to health related issues (such as allergies); and

If, after investigating and concluding there are no reasonable alternatives to manage the risk of exposure to Covid-19 as effectively as vaccination, only then could an employer consider terminating the employment relationship. We recommended exercising extreme caution and seeking legal advice before taking any such action.

It is reasonable to suggest/request your people be vaccinated in order to “increase the safety of themselves and others and the organisation”.

Our analysis is the starting position at law is that employers cannot compel employees to be vaccinated for Covid-19. In some very limited circumstances, it may be considered a reasonable instruction to require vaccination where there is evidence that vaccination will significantly reduce the health risks of employees or improve business efficiency and where no other available options to employers provide equally effective protection against the risks of exposure to Covid-19.

In such circumstances, employers will likely first have to consider less intrusive, risk mitigation strategies from the use of PPE and social distancing, to amendments to employees’ roles and responsibilities to minimise risk of exposure to Covid-19. If, under the circumstances, other reasonable risk management strategies do not sufficiently mitigate the risk of exposure, it may be reasonable for employers to then require employees to be vaccinated, where good evidence of that can be provided. This will likely only be appropriate where employees are subject to high levels of potential exposure to people infected with Covid-19, such as those working at the nation’s border, frontline health care and aviation services, subject to protected categories of discrimination discussed below.

Given that New Zealand workplaces have continued to operate more or less safely up until now without the added protection of vaccines, it may be difficult for employers to take the position that people who cannot, or will not, be vaccinated. have suddenly become a significant risk and therefore require vaccination.



Yes - This would be at your discretion

Options could include:

  • Utilising sick leave to get the vaccination
  • Paying a one-off bonus payment to those that get vaccinated
  • Paying travel costs for anyone that has to travel to receive the vaccine
  • Paying if it requires time off work
  • Compensation for getting the vaccinated to keep the company safe, rather than a health a safety requirement.



Yes - with some exceptions

An employer could request vaccination records with a stated purpose if it can clearly show why it requires access to that information and manages that personal information in line with the principles of the Privacy Act 2020.

However, subject to breaching the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993, an employer can place any reasonable conditions on the employment of new staff.

While it is possible to insist new employees are vaccinated for Covid-19, this will require consideration on a case by case basis and employers should avoid blanket rules. If a prospective employee were to refuse vaccination, employers would need to consider carefully the reasons for that refusal. If the refusal is based on a protected ground of discrimination, employers should consider non-enforcement of any vaccination policy to avoid claims of discrimination.



No - except in very limited circumstances

It will generally be unlawful to dismiss someone who refuses vaccination, and doing so will present significant risk of a finding of unjustified dismissal, claims of discrimination and breach of the Human Rights Act.

As set out above, in very limited circumstances it may be possible to consider termination of employment where:

  • The employee is in a role that subjected them to significant risk of contracting Covid-19 in their day-to-day duties (e.g. healthcare worker or in the aviation industry);
  • The employer considers all reasonable alternative risk management methods as alternatives to vaccination;
  • The employer considers whether it is reasonable to alter the employee’s duties or redeploy the employee elsewhere in the company as an alternative to vaccination;
  • That the employees reasons for non-vaccination are not a protected ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act or are due to health related issues (such as allergies); and

If, after investigating and concluding there are no reasonable alternatives to manage the risk of exposure to Covid-19 as effectively as vaccination, only then could an employer consider terminating the employment relationship. We recommended exercising extreme caution and seeking legal advice before taking any such action.




Everyone is protected from unlawful discrimination in their employment, this includes on the grounds of religious or ethical beliefs. If, beliefs that are held by a prospective employee are not reasonably held beliefs (for example based on conspiracy theories), such beliefs would not be protected grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act.

Examples for Refusing the Vaccination:

Religious Grounds:  Discrimination

Beliefs:  Discrimination

Fear of getting Covid: This is unlikely as any belief that getting Covid from vaccination at this stage is not substantiated and would arguably be a conspiracy theory

Allergies:  Discrimination

Medical Reasons (including pregnancy):  Discrimination

Conspiracy Theories:  Anything that cannot be classified as a reasonably held belief will not likely be discriminatory.

Source:  Auckland Chamber of Commerce


Friday, 15 January 2021 - What does 2021 have in store for us? One view of the international/national picture

Looking into the crystal ball at the beginning of 2021 we see a much murkier view than we have seen in a very long time. Forces are at play that we have not encountered in our lifetime and we have little experience of these forces, to call upon. Consequently, we can only use our imaginations and intelligence to form a view of what we might see in business and the economy, in the year ahead.


Firstly Covid-19

Covid 19 has already demonstrated its ability to mutate into new variants with alarming alacrity. This has wide ramifications and leads to new questions. For example:

  • Will the vaccines be effective against a whole range of variants?
  • If not, will vaccinations be able to keep pace with mutations?
  • Will people who have recovered from one variant be immune to other variants?

The summation of this mutating is that Covid in various forms will likely become the new influenza - only with more dangerous outcomes. We should therefore be planning to cope with Covid in many forms, living ubiquitously in the international community, much like influenza does today. Some vaccination immunity will be no doubt be achievable this year, but Covid looks here to stay for quite a while. For New Zealanders, we can take a high degree of comfort that we are handling the situation better than most, are well equipped to deal with a pandemic and are surrounded by sea.


Environmental Issues

Most people agree that we must live in harmony with nature to maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem that supports all life on earth. I personally believe that if we do not, then mother nature will make the necessary corrections in her own way!  There is no argument that humanity has not been good at managing this natural balance and we have been taking more resources than we have been replacing and polluting the environment, for a long time. Moreover, some of our main drivers have not been conducive to ecological balancing. For example, we use economic growth as the main measure of our “success”. Economic growth alone, without checks and balances, is actually a pretty good surrogate measure for greenhouse gas emissions………

Is Covid one of nature’s ways of making her own “corrections” to our bad management of the planet?


Either way there can be little doubt that we are going to have to come to terms very quickly with a dramatic improvement in the way we handle our environmental impact - beginning right now! This will become centre stage in 2021 and beyond. Business must lead this change if we are to get practical outcomes.


International Trade

China has become our main trading partner with $11 billion of exports in 2020 or 28.8% of all exports. Australia is next at $5.2 billion or 13.6%. It places us in a difficult situation that our two biggest trading partners are on the verge of a trade war with one another – all over a bad taste cartoon! Some delicate Government diplomacy will be needed to negotiate our way through the year ahead. Our relationships with both China and Australia are critical to our economic wellbeing. Brexit is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on NZ with only 2.5% of our trade being with UK – less than one billion dollars and shrinking.

The demise of the Trump “America First” isolationism may help NZ, as US is our third largest market at $3.6 billion or 9.4% of all exports.


Impacts on New Zealand

The probable impacts on NZ may be along the following lines.


  • Continued border controls, limiting of incoming visitors from Covid hot spots including UK and US for periods of time.
  • International tourism will likely not see a major, sustained improvement for a while to come and international travel will remain slow, expensive, and sparse.
  • The impacts of Covid-19 on major market countries will remain nett negative with the $NZ remaining high and affecting primary sector export earnings.
  • Notwithstanding, industries that service the primary sector should sustain ok. The primary sector is very robust.
  • Hospitality, travel, and tourism industries will need to foster and feed off the domestic tourism boom, for a while longer.
  • On the plus side, NZ may be able to host international events (or parts of events) that were scheduled to be held elsewhere, such as sporting and entertainment events.
  • Canny investors are likely to buy up commercial property while the general CBDs “depression” situation prevails. This should lead to a later surge in inner city development, but it will be a year or two before this becomes visible.
  • This Government’s generous social support policies will likely come under fire for creating more of the problems that they are designed to cure. A move to a more balanced approach to “social welfare” will likely begin to emerge by the end of 2021, including people taking more responsibility for personal actions.
  • Government spending and support will likely tighten and focus into state housing and infrastructure, and more cognisance of national debt levels will prevail.
  • Some increase in Reserve Bank interest levels is possible, together with an extension of the “Bright Line” for Capital Gains Tax, if the housing market does not cool down.
  • The beginning of Covid impacts respite should be seen later in the year, but it will be accompanied by a realisation that Covid is not a passing phenomenon – it is here to stay.
  • A new and more permanent order will begin to rapidly evolve around public health, travel, social distancing, events, gatherings, working from home, and trading. The nett effects of these will be negative for the economy compared to 2019 levels, but positive moving forward.
  • Environmental sustainability will move sharply into mainstream business thinking and NZ has an opportunity to become a world leader in this space.
  • NZ will weather the storm far better than most countries, so long as we continue to remain vigilant.


Impacts for Rotorua.

Local communities that rally together and initiate positive measures to help themselves will fare much better than those who waste energy on in fighting and independent initiatives.


Every cloud has a silver lining and Rotorua has an opportunity to feed off the facts that:

  1. It has been used as a border control town to manage the Covid cases coming into NZ.
  2. It has been used as a base to accommodate the growing homeless from around NZ, and
  3. It has a bunch of needs of its own that require government support to get in place and has organised itself to deliver these.

If we can get item 3 sorted above, agree these needs, cost them, and get a Business/Local Government/ Central Government partnership operating – Covid could well go down in history as the pivot point for Rotorua’s blossoming into new levels.


Are we up to the challenge?

Bryce C Heard, Chamber CEO


Monday, 14 December 2020 - Rotorua:  Our Natural Advantages

2020 has been an extraordinary year. It’s reminded us to pause, reflect and to be grateful.  This is just as important when considering our businesses and economic growth.  If we pause and look around, Rotorua sits within a natural wonderland of lakes, forests, geothermal hot springs and people who have populated these surrounds for hundreds of years.  If we value who we are and where we live, the answers to how we build our economy are clear.

Our natural wonderland provides opportunities to build on our tourism in a way that is uniquely us.  That takes the best of our surrounds and enables people to enjoy them while ensuring our natural environment is here for our mokopuna and their mokopuna.  We need to not be afraid to invest for the future but invest in the long term in a way that reflects our values.

This same environment is attracting film makers and story tellers. We can provide scenery and culture that does not exist elsewhere. Let’s not be afraid to welcome others in. Provided it’s on our terms and respects who we are, the opportunities are endless.

While 2020 has been tough, the future is but what we make of it.  If we look around, appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and embrace who we are, we are limitless!

Kiri Tahana

Partner:  Kahui Legal

Chamber President


Thursday, 10 December 2020 - Rotorua Business Excellence Awards Seeks New Naming Sponsor

For the first time in 16 years, the Rotorua Business Chamber's annual Business Excellence Awards has a vacancy for a new Naming sponsor.

Established in 2005, the annual event has grown exponentially from an initial 40+ entries and 200 attendees, to an impressive 60+ entries and whopping 725 attendees at the 2020 awards held in October.

The awards had been sponsored by Westpac Rotorua since its inception. But after what both parties describe as a “mutually productive relationship,” the bank has stepped down from its role to focus on other business priorities.

Chamber President, Kiri Tahana says with all the changes that 2020 has brought, the Chamber has taken the opportunity to build on the successes of this year’s awards and take them to a new level in 2021.

“The changes made this year due to COVID-19 were extremely positive and resulted in the highest number of entries and attendees to date. The black-tie event is widely recognised as one of the most strongly supported Business Awards event of its type in NZ per capita and we want to continue that momentum.

“We understand the impact COVID-19 has had both on the personal and professional front and we want to ensure there will be something for everyone.”

As a result, the Chamber has reviewed and refreshed its award framework and categories and has now opened the door for a new naming rights sponsor.

“This is a unique, once-in-16-years opportunity to headline the Rotorua Business Awards, which makes a significant contribution to everyone in our business community. It's an exciting time, says Ms. Tahana.

Sponsorship benefits are negotiable, but will include brand promotion throughout the year, award dinner tickets, full naming rights, speaking rights at the event, Chamber membership as well as an ex-officio membership position on the Chamber Board.

The awards and event process is managed by the Chamber and supported by over 20 other local partners, sponsors and participating parties.

The official awards programme commences in May, with entries remaining open until around July 31st. A team of independent judges work under a code of conduct to provide a professional, confidential and unbiased assessment of entries.

Ms Tahana says the naming right sponsorship opportunity is open to any local businesses as well as any national organisation that has a strong presence and operation in Rotorua.

Interested parties should submit their interest by 4pm, Friday 29 January.

“We want to partner with a business who is confident in helping us deliver a streamlined awards programme that adds value to everyone involved and provides the credibility and integrity that promotes Rotorua on a national stage.”

For more details or to receive a copy of the EOI document, please contact



Thursday, 5 November 2020 - Rotorua Housing Defying the Odds

Home lending here in our beautiful Rotorua region over the past six months has defied economists’ predictions. Housing sales were expected to stagnate, values to flatline or drop, and home lending approvals were to be made erring on the side of caution.

The Rotorua housing market has defied all odds and come back strongly. House prices continue to climb and we are seeing many out of towners relocating to our beautiful city, recognising what lockdown has taught us – they can now work from home and enjoy a lifestyle in Vegas. People are borrowing thick and fast against their improved equity, buying a second or third investment property or upgrading their existing home. First home buyers are back in the market, which is one of the most satisfying parts of any banker's job – seeing customers in our community realise their dreams of becoming first home owners. Our beautiful city bounced back in the housing market far quicker and greater than expected.

While initially post lockdown banks were more cautious with low equity first home buyers, recent months have seen some relaxing of these rules with confidence in the market. We are again seeing many first home buyers into homes with as little as 10% deposit. The initial caution was sensible and justified. We are responsible lenders, and if house values declined by the predicted 10% (or more), this could have seen many low equity home owners owing more than their home was worth.

A well-informed, educated and meaningful relationship between customer and banker is imperative in these aggressive housing times as we are often seeing multiple purchasers all vying for the same property. You only need to drive to open homes on Sundays to see the same convoy of cars, each eyeing a potential purchase, with what appears to be no likelihood of any bargain in sight.

First home buyers in particular need the right support and financial education in this market. The more support the better – we tell our customers 'no question is a dumb question' and if you want to own your own home, talk to a banker you can relate to, set your financial goals and make a plan.

Having a solid plan is crucial to be on track to own your first home and live the kiwi dream, and what better place to do it than in our very own Rotovegas!

Abbie Proudley

BNZ Senior Partner Region – Rotorua

Chamber Board Member


Thursday, 24th September - Rest In Peace, Phil Becker

We are greatly saddened to share with you the news that Phil Becker passed away suddenly yesterday from a medical event. This was completely unexpected and is devastating for his family, friends, and his many work associates.

His contribution and participation in our Chamber and Regional Business Partnership work has been immense.

Phil was moving on to another work opportunity which he was very excited about. Phil was very popular and much loved by his workmates at the Chamber.

Aroha nui our brother and friend.

Phil's funeral will be on Monday, 28 September at 10am at Legacy Funeral Home, 383 Pyes Pa Road, Tauranga.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Phil's charity of choice, 'Tauranga Riding for the Disabled' will be welcomed.

Thursday 27th August - Business Confidence During Covid-19

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 20th August - Why Market and Advertise in a downturn

When a crisis hits a business, and cash flow begins to dry up, the first reaction is to tighten the purse strings. Understandable. We look at headcounts, inefficiencies, ways to limit our outgoing expenses. Hard costs are under scrutiny, and often, slashing marketing budgets is considered an easy way to save cash.

But what happens when you stop advertising?

At a time where every single person that walks through your door, buys your product online or engages your service is critical - shouldn't this be the most important time to advertise?

History has shown that advertising during a downturn works. Studies and research from the Global Financial Crisis show that there are several advantages to continuing advertising during a recession.

With many businesses reducing advertising or stopping altogether, an opportunity arises for those that choose to continue to gain a competitive edge. When customers do spend again you will be front of mind and have worked to solidify your customer base. Advertising during a slump or recession also shows your brand is stable. It instills confidence in your brand and your offering. It also shows you think you are strong enough to survive.

A huge focus on “Keeping it Local” and “Locals supporting locals” is growing. Any Kiwi business that can give potential customers a reason to support this initiative will earn trust and regard from consumers. If you are doing something different or working hard to succeed during this time, and you have a story to tell - now is the time to tell it.

Consistency is also key. There is no point running one message on Radio, another on Digital, and a third on a Billboard. Make it consistent. Repetition will help you get cut through. If you are not sure, ask for help. Engage with a Media Account Manager, or a local advertising or marketing specialist. We are here to help, and we’re all in this together!

Felicity Farrell
Sales Manager, Mediaworks
Chamber Board Member

Thursday 13th August - Latest COVID developments. Let's stay cool, please

The news that some community transferred cases of COVID have appeared in an Auckland family has sent a wave of disappointment through the entire country. This is an entirely understandable response. We had all hoped that we had beaten the insurgent and could now focus on getting back to business. It is of concern to our Rotorua community that some of the affected family had travelled to Rotorua to enjoy our tourist attractions, over the weekend of 8-11 August.

Let us remember that this is exactly what we have been asking NZ people to do – to come to Rotorua and enjoy our beautiful city and its attractions - so no recriminations there.

We all react differently to bad news. Some of us lash out in anger, some become despondent, some cry and some see it as a fresh challenge to overcome.

Our thoughts at the Chamber are that we should not over-react, but let us find out what we are confronting, and then deal with it the best way we can. It is disappointing yes, but we have beaten this thing before, and we will do it again. So, each of us must do our bit if we are to stop it in its tracks.

Right now, we do not yet know what we are up against and speculation is not going to help. For the moment it is one day at a time and hold a steady hand on the tiller.

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 6th August -The Chamber is Growing

This week we welcomed two new additions to the Chamber team. Charlie is our new Regional Growth Advisor and is working to assist with funding support for Rotorua businesses affected by COVID-19. Previously owning Ma Higgins cafe in Rotorua, after 18 years he is turning his expertise to help the Rotorua business community. Read more here.

Cecile is our new Member Liaison Manager and will be responsible for providing our members with support for all chamber-related services. Cecile has a background in events and activations management with a strong focus on client service and communications. We're excited to have them join our growing team!

Friday 31 July - Small Business Support - Westpac NZ

Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and many will be struggling to recover as we come out of lockdown.  The government and banks have put in place a range of support options for businesses, from the wage subsidy to repayment deferrals to the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme.  We encourage all small businesses make a plan for getting through this, including evaluating their cashflow situation and future business opportunities, and to talk to their bank, the government and/or their business advisers to see how they can help.

Key messages

  • Firstly, any businesses effected by COVID-19 should look at the range of support options available to them – from the government and their bank.
  • Secondly, look at your costs – is there anything that is non-essential or you can cut back on.
  • Businesses should develop a clear short-and-long term plan, including:
    • ensuring they have good reporting systems and forecast tools
    • communicating with customers, suppliers and business advisers
    • reviewing their online sales offering and distribution channels
    • looking for potential new opportunities for their business in the COVID-19 era
  • We’re here to help businesses with cashflow issues by offering repayment deferrals, overdraft extensions, or loan restructuring.


Our economists are picking a tough few quarters ahead, followed by a solid recovery from next year.  So there’s still some pain to come for businesses but again, it’s important for them to have a plan and make sure they’re aware of the support options available.

Our Chief Economist Dominick Stephens has been clear that we we’re better off enduring the short-term financial pain of lockdown to stamp out COVID-19, than to take half-measures that cause the financial and health impacts of the pandemic to linger.

We’re working really hard across the business to ensure we’re doing everything we can for our customers.

  • We’ve granted home loan or personal loan payment relief to more than 20,000 customers;
  • We’ve waived contactless debit fees for eligible existing customers for six months;
  • Temporarily waived minimum monthly merchant service fees for all businesses;
  • Donated an extra $1 million donation to rescue helicopters, to address the fundraising deficit caused by COVID-19.

We’ve been hit hard by COVID-19 and there will be a tough few months ahead.  But our financial position remains strong, we’re working hard with the regulators and the government and we’re here to help New Zealanders which is exactly what we’re doing.

Simon Power
GM, Commercial Corporate & Institutional Banking
Westpac, New Zealand

Thursday 23rd July - Well done NZ

Well done NZ.  The hard yards of lock down have enabled domestic travel to happen on a level that would not have been possible had we had ongoing community spread like what is happening globally.

Kiwis are now confident to travel domestically to shop and experience the ”New” New Zealand.  Queen’s Birthday long weekend and the recent July school holidays have given a much needed cash injection into the industry throughout NZ.   A long weekend or a school holidays period generates an additional 200% to 300% in tourism, hospitality and retail spend over a regular week/weekend.

Keeping the money-go round happening is vital to saving jobs in all industries.  All staff are another businesses customer so the most important thing for a sustainable economic recovery is jobs, jobs, and jobs.   At Redwoods Treewalk we have kept all our staff on, and this remains our priority. 

Australian visitor flows will be a core part of rebuilding the NZ tourism industry when it is appropriate and safe to do so.   Australians spent around $50bn on offshore travel last year with NZ attracting some 1.5 million visitors and $4bn of this spend.   

Our biggest hurdle to growing Australian visitor arrivals in the past was that they saw NZ as a destination they would visit “one day”.  Clearly, when we can get borders open, there will be a big opportunity to convert this “one day” into NOW.   Australia was 39% of our international arrivals and moving forward will be closer to 100% of our international arrivals for the short to mid-term. 

It would be a massive economic opportunity for the central North Island if we could get direct Australia flights returning to the Rotorua International Airport with good frequency.   

Bruce Thomasen
Director, Redwoods Treewalk

Chamber Board Member

Thursday 9th July - COVID Isolation Communication - Update for Chamber Members

Many of our chamber members expressed concern about the sudden establishment of managed isolation units at two of our Rotorua hotels last month. Most of the concern related to the lack of communication/consultation with the community prior to the establishment of the units.

Our understanding is that this has now been both acknowledged and addressed by the COVID-19 All-of-Government Response Group Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Below are some of the exchanges that we have been a party to, to help reassure members.




Kia ora koutou Mayor, councillors and team

Thank you, Lt Col Preece, for your introduction and handover. Thank you for your good work to date.

For other recipients of this email, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me with any communication issues about the Managed Isolation Facilities that you think may need addressing.  My job is to be a conduit between all parties and ensure that the flow is going back and forth as needed.

Also - in case it did not reach you we sent out the following media advisory yesterday regarding the returnees departure from Rotorua tomorrow.


There are currently 390 people currently in managed isolation in Rotorua, at two facilities.

A number of people will be leaving their managed isolation facility tomorrow and over the coming days, having completed their 14-day stay and having returned a negative COVID-19 test, and are symptom-free.

People requiring transport back to their point of origin in New Zealand (i.e. Auckland Airport) will be provided this. Others have arranged their own onward travel and there are also people who live in Rotorua who will be returning home.


We are sure that you will farewell these people with the same warmth and kindness you have continued to show them while they were here.   A series of new arrivals will be coming Monday.

Ngā mihi

Elizabeth Hughes

Senior Communications Advisor Waikato/Rotorua

COVID-19 All-of-Government Response Group Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet



Mayor Chadwick, Ladies and Gentlemen – thank you for your support and advice over the past week or so.

I have appreciated the willingness of people to engage with me and to help me understand the uniqueness of the isolation system as it relates to Rotorua. The strong sense of community, coupled with manaaki, comes across very strongly; so does pragmatism and a willingness to be involved. Some of the people in isolation in Rotorua are Tangata Whenua, but they mostly aren’t – yet the community very quickly started showing hospitality and support to our guests. On their behalf, I thank you.

Tomorrow I am required back in Wellington, and so will depart Rotorua in the morning. Elizabeth Hughes will be supporting the isolation operation in Rotorua from a communications perspective. Elizabeth is from Hamilton and far more skilled and experienced than I am in her field, so I know that the task is in good hands. I have passed on the key details of conversations I have had with you over the past week and she now serves as your first point of contact, should you have any questions or concerns.

I have enjoyed the chance to spend time in Rotorua, albeit under very strange circumstances, and it was a pleasure to meet you all. I wish you all the best.


Chad Preece.

Kura Takahi Puni.

Lieutenant Colonel Chad Preece, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment National Isolation, Quarantine and Repatriation Cell

COVID-19 All-of-Government Response Group<

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 25th June - COVID-19 and Rotorua - Let’s Recalibrate

How a week can change our view of the world.

A week ago, we were forecasting a quicker-than-expected recovery for Rotorua’s economy. This was based on things like better than expected reports on levels of trade, a fantastic response to the Queen’s Birthday weekend from out of town domestic visitors, and an expectation that a Trans-Tasman travel bubble was an imminent possibility.

We were even promoting a discussion about re-instituting (subsidized) direct flights from the Australian Eastern seaboard, direct to Rotorua for the period of the border controls. This was one way of supporting our tourism reliant businesses through the crises period.

The news that Rotorua hotels are now providing managed isolation for Kiwis returning from overseas came without warning, over the weekend. Given the recent new cases (after days of zero cases) which sparked national concern with the quarantine procedures, there was understandable concern about what this might mean for Rotorua.   

But now it is time to come to terms with the new reality and to deal with it. Let’s pick ourselves up, recalibrate our plans and expectations and get on with it.

Rotorua is nothing if not resilient

To help us to better understand the developments, the Chamber ran a quick survey of businesses’ view of the impact of the COVID hub decision from Monday through Wednesday this week. The results follow. They show concern about the potential impact on Rotorua business. (See below).

The position of the hotels that have become hubs, is not of their making and is entirely understandable. Most of us would make the same choice in their position. We are not critical of them.

This is an issue of national health and local business impact. It is an issue beyond anyone’s control, that circumstances have forced upon us. We must make the most of it and work together to make dead certain that it is not all for nothing.  

Shouting at one another over social media will not achieve that outcome!

But what can we do?

The chambers position is therefore evolving along the following lines:

  1. We express our disappointment at the absence of consultation with the business community before this decision was taken and we look forward to an improvement in communications.
  2. We call for all political interests to unite in finding solutions that enable our people to return to NZ whilst ensuring that COVID-19 is contained so there is no community transmission. NZ’s future depends upon a successful outcome.
  3. We applaud the way government and the Ministry handled the lockdown phases of the COVID event. It was truly world leading and courageous.
  4. Conversely, we are disappointed with the border control services since returning to level 1 and will be monitoring the quality of the Managed Isolation services in our city closely so there is no basis for concern. This is to ensure the safety of our community, health workers, hotel staff, our elderly, vulnerable and our local economy as we move through the next stages.
  5. We will support the Hub in Rotorua and totally understand the affected hotels taking the option to become part of the network.
  6. We will recalibrate our assessment of Rotorua’s economic outlook based on the new reality.
  7. We will continue to strive to mitigate the impacts on Rotorua’s economy.
  8. We will be looking to government for support to compensate for any negative impacts on our local economy.

We want to thank all of those members who responded to our 48 hour survey and assure you will that we will be doing everything in our power to help make Rotorua’s sacrifice on behalf of the nation, a worthwhile undertaking.

Please continue to keep us informed so we can better perform our role.

Chamber Survey of Business Results

Q1 When thinking about Rotorua in the context of a tourism town (where
approximately one in every three jobs relies upon tourism)...

19.3%       I think it is a good opportunity for Rotorua to pick up more visitor income and get some of our hotels back working (nett positive for business)

37.0%       I would support it if I were confident that the quarantine protocols are working effectively, and people were being communicated with in advance

43.7%       I think it will potentially damage our reputation as a tourist destination, reduce visitors to Rotorua and do damage to businesses who are reliant on domestic visitors to survive the next few months (nett negative for business)

Q2 When thinking about the situation as a health issue...

55.8%       Rotorua is COVID free and we do not want to risk transition of the virus into our small community by becoming a quarantine hub

26.2%       I am indifferent; I trust the protocols and the officials to do a good job with managing the health aspects

18.0%       I think the human issue of helping people get back to NZ is the overriding concern and should be welcomed

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 18th June - Business Planning in Uncertain Times

Business planning in uncertain times can seem like an impossible task and a mountain of hopes, but with challenges come opportunities and with opportunities come unknown territories.

The only way to see what’s behind that door is to walk through it, wholeheartedly and fully aware of having to step out of your comfort zone. That’s the wonderful thing about change, it drives us to grow personally and professionally, whilst adding more value to what we do.

In the last few months, I've been busy taking our clients through the process of choosing the right set of tools, so they can be confident and as prepared as possible, to walk through uncharted waters. The common theme among all was the ability to let go of the old to explore the new. Ideas were just flowing through their heads and all I had to do was facilitate the project management plan and cash flow to back it up.

Every successful business has one thing in common – THEY UNDERSTAND THEIR DNA. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Why does my business exist?
  • Who are our customers?
  • How do we add the most value to our customers?
  • Does what we do align with our values?
  • Does what we do align with our customer's values?
  • Has our target audience changed?
  • Is there a different market opportunity for us?

Any given business has a drawcard, a reason for people to walk in, or buy of you. Is it your location, your star product or the people? Why are people coming to you?

If it is your location, and you were banking on international tourists, can you re-purpose the way to tell the story? Think about how other industry sectors are operating and if there is an opportunity for them to utilise your historic site, i.e. retreats, school camps, glamping, mountain biking huts.

None of us can walk it alone. Make sure you plan for troughs, time your next step and have a sound plan. Set yourself realistic milestones and get someone to hold you accountable. Partner up with other players in the industry to share the load and create an unforgettable experience?

Always remember, people don’t buy what you sell, they buy WHY you sell it. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It is about the people, about our story and about who we are.

Miriam Hewson

Director – Futureproof Concepts

Chamber Vice President

Thursday 28th May - Update & Forecast with Dominick Stephens - Westpac Chief Economist

Did you miss this morning's webinar by Westpac's Chief Economist Dominic Stephens? His key takeaways include :

• The early indicators are that the initial forecast’s by economists were far too pessimistic and recovery whilst having a long tail will be quicker than expected.

• Smaller companies will be affected in different ways compared to larger companies with a higher failure rate in smaller companies, however, there will be lower entry barriers for new businesses when the recovery takes place.

• The balance sheets are expected to weaken, and Capex to reduce.

• Dominick forecasts GDP to be 6% below pre Covid growth rates and unemployment to peak at 9.5% but now concedes that these may be pessimistic.

• Several industries are bouncing back including manufacturing and construction the questions is will this sustain or will the pipeline dry up overtime?

• Housing prices are expected to drop by 7% with Auckland and Wellington leading the charge.

• Most things are expected to return to normal by 2022.

• The high level of government borrowing will have to be paid for by future generations which means either higher taxes and/or lower spending.

• Dominick is not ruling out negative OCR rates and quantitative easing or printing of money.

• Dominick felt the wage subsidy had been very successful so far but was opposed to the concept of 4 day weeks as a means to boost tourism, whist tourism would benefit, the offsetting effects on other sectors would out-weigh this.

Watch the recording of the webinar at

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 21st May - Big Budget Small Plan - We seem Seen to Have a Mismatch

The Government should be commended for its handling of the COVID-19 medical response. Our performance to date has shown that NZ can lead the world in more things than just rugby! Well done NZ. So far so good - but now for the real challenge.

The post COVID rebuilding budget does not engender confidence that we will succeed with the recovery. Government gets full marks for brave and massive borrowing, to fund us out of the mire. However, just what all that money is going to fund, is the issue.

While we need to protect jobs and our people, we also need to invest smartly to ensure we make the most of this opportunity to change the future. Are we going to invest it in a brave new sustainable and bright future for our mokopuna?

COVID-19 has torn down our old way of living and reminded us just how fragile and unsustainable the world economy was when mother nature takes a hand. At the same time, it has presented us with an opportunity to reshape our lives, our minds, and our economy.

Let us build a bold plan to match the bold borrowing and set us up for the next 100 years! Let us ensure the debt is a wise investment that creates a new greener, world leading Aotearoa.

Such a plan will see NZ building on its “food basket for the world, clean green, sustainably grown and COVID free” status to create a unique market niche for us for the next 100 years. Our greatest natural assets are our fertile soils, our warm temperate climate, our unique culture, our low population, our pioneering spirit, our island status, our sparkling clean water, our blue sky, and our ability to grow things fast and well. We can (and must), develop a plan to capitalise on these natural advantages.

Some of the elements might include crop diversification, land use creativity, fast tracking clean water and clean air implementation, (with Government support instead of leaving it all to the landowners), implementing a nation-wide NZ grown Wood Procurement policy, reinventing tourism with virtual tours added to the mix and exporting not only our kai but our ideas, content and innovative spirit.  There is no cap on our ideas and the world’s demand for unique new ways of living.  We can lead the way by investing in real structural change – not just putting a band aid on a wounded economy. Focus the whole tourism campaign on demonstrating our uniqueness, our sustainability, our naturally grown crops and proteins, our spirit of togetherness, our empathetic collaborative leadership, NZ a land of innovators and plenty.

Such a plan would see fast tracking of weed and pest control, planting of some marginal land in fast growing trees and crops, fast tracking of waste recycling, energy conservation and electrification of the whole economy. A carbon emissions policy that rewards good performance (as opposed to just relying on punitive measure for bad performance), Voluntary Accords with landowners and regulators, public partnerships with police and law/regulation makers. The list is endless and solving it has occupied bureaucrats, politicians, farmers, and business owners for decades. Now is the time to make it all happen and show the world how NZ can turn adversity into step improvements in life and living.

Maybe we have to cleanse our minds of all we thought we knew and just imagine… just imagine…..our new future.

“Let’s do this”

Rotorua Business Chamber Acting Vice President
Kiri Tahana

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard



Thursday 14th May - Chamber’s Survey of Business Showing Some “Concerning” Responses to COVID-19

The recent survey of business sentiment during the Level 4 lockdown has presented a mixed bag of results, and some of them are concerning.

A few things stand out clearly, like the fact that 85% of all respondents have applied for the Government wage subsidy. But when we dug a little deeper, we found a huge variance between the responses of the survey participants. It covered the spectrum from ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ to others who have done a full, new, business plans, taken professional advice and have changed the direction of their business to meet the new environment.

We take from this, that some are just hanging in and waiting and hoping, while others are taking a proactive approach to help themselves and make the best of a bad-looking situation. We strongly recommend the latter course!

There is an expectation that many small to medium sized businesses will shrink over the coming 12 months. The most pessimism about shrinkage is in the 10-50 FTE’s group, many of whom expect to employ less staff in a years’ time.

 Conversely, the most optimism about staff retention was in the larger (Over 50 FTE’s) businesses, who nearly all said they expected to be a similar scale or larger in 12 months.

Of the almost 100 respondents, only one business reported that it has closed for good, but 35% have closed temporarily for the Level 4 lockdown period. Most of these are working from home. 8.5% of those surveyed have already enacted redundancies.

Ideas for assisting the economy to recover quickly were quite constructive with consistent themes being the need for council to help with free parking in the CBD, and the need to work together to make the best of the post COVID period, including Australia/NZ tourism focus and targeting family holidays for Rotorua.

Perhaps the most concerning statistic are that less than half of all businesses surveyed (46%) have done a post COVID business plan and/or cash flow. This means that the other 54% are flying blind. Cash management is near the very top of the list of important things to do at times of stress. While we all understand that there is still a huge level of uncertainty about the future, at least we should all be doing some scenario planning with an expected scenario, plus an optimistic and a pessimistic option.

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard


Thursday 7th May - Central City Parking

The Chambers recent survey of members contained several feedback comments about the provision of free CBD parking by the Council. We are also informed that there is also a petition circulating the community to this effect.

Free parking for a period of 2-3 months to assist the COVID return to business at Level 2 is a suggestion that has merit. However, a permanent change to free-for-all parking would undoubtedly have some unexpected consequences. We have previously encountered problems with all day free parking spaces. In these cases, the staff of CBD based businesses were using the prime parking spaces and parking in them all day from 8.30 am until closing. In this situation the public was not able to find a park, so the impact on retail and CBD businesses was negative, not positive as intended.
We do agree that the parking seems complicated and varied to the public when we are trying to park and pay. However, there is a plan to it all, but the council has not explained this well to the public. The result is confusion and frustration. We would encourage the council to consider some temporary respite for parking as one way to help the COVID recovery phases, but also to explain its ongoing parking plan more widely to the public.

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 30th April - Buy Local - Go Local

The Chamber supports and facilitates the By Local - Go Local movements. This is where you can help! To help guide you and your staff with Buying Local, and buying better, go to our Chamber website at and click on Member 2 Member offers and read up the 100’s of Rotorua Chamber members offering “special” deals.

This booklet is currently being updated for the post COVID situation, so now is a good time to become a part of it. Also please ensure that your staff have their Chamber Members Staff Buying Discount cards to ensure that their dollar goes further when shopping in our town. Every little bit we do will help our damaged economy back onto its feet. We are doing our best to help and appreciate your support and feedback at this difficult time.

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard


Thursday 23rd April - Let us know how you are getting on!

We are asking tough questions, it's not a time for pulling punches. As we start, alongside the other agencies, to work on plans for economic recovery for our District we want your help on understanding what we need to address in the recovery plan. 

Regardless of if your business has been positively or negatively impacted by Covid-19, we need to hear from you. Please take five minutes to complete the survey. (now closed)

It is completely anonymous - and the findings will be used to shape and inform our thinking in terms of immediate actions, and longer-term strategy. We will share some summary findings with you and may repeat the survey in a couple of weeks to get an updated take of how things are changing and moving in our region. This survey will now close Friday 1st May.


Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Thursday 16th April - New President at the Chamber

We wish to advise our members that John McRae has resigned from the presidency of the Rotorua Business Chamber to take up a new role as President of Rotorua Economic Development (Destination Rotorua).

John has served 5 years in the Chamber President role and during that time has played a leading part in moving the chamber from a position of vulnerability to the financially robust and proactive organisation that serves the business community today. We thank John for his excellent services and wish him well in his new role.

Vice President Kiri Tahana has kindly stepped up and accepted the board’s request for her to take on the acting presidency as we move into this difficult phase of dealing with the COVID-19 related issues. Miriam Hewson has been appointed to Vice President to replace Kiri.

We welcome both Kiri and Miriam to their new roles, thank them for their willingness to contribute to the wellbeing of Rotorua’s business community. We all look forward to working closely with them in the future.

The Board and Staff of your Rotorua Business Chamber.

Thursday 9th April 

Tēnā rā koutou katoa. 

E mihi ana ki a koutou katoa i roto i nga tini ahuatanga o te wā. Ko te tumanako, kei te noho haumaru, kei te mauri ora koutou ki roto i o koutou kainga, mauri ora ki a tātou.

We hope you are all safe and well during these times.  The Rotorua Business Chamber acknowledges the struggles we are all facing – he waka eke noa, we are all in this together. Please reach out – we are here to help connect your business to any support that may be available. Please see below the range of support available to businesses.

While these are tough times, this is also an opportunity for us to think differently, to innovate and to focus on how we build a better Rotorua economy for all our communities.  The response to covid-19 has shown the strength and value of collaboration.  We are working alongside our regional chamber partners, Poutama Trust, local and central government so we can both connect you to the support you may need and to ensure we are part of the solution to the economic recovery. 

We welcome your ideas and energies to help the recovery. Now is an opportunity to re-focus and reset and furthermore support each other through this. Kia kaha kia maia, kia manawanui.

Kiri Tahana
Rotorua Business Chamber Acting President

Thursday 2nd April - Action plan for businesses affected by Covid-19

What you can do this week...

  • Contact your bank manager for possible assistance or relief. Ensure that the companies own financing (if any) remains viable in the current situation. 
  • Revisit your variable costs.
  • Cancel non-essential subscriptions etc.
  • Consider contacting suppliers and negotiating to extend payables.
  • Reach out to all creditors and debtors.
  • Negotiate rent reduction with your landlord.
  • Apply for COVID- 19 Government Wage Subsidy here.

Undertake financial scenario planning and cash flow projections.

  •  What revenue can I expect in? What bills do I need to pay? These scenarios will help with forward planning.
  • As times are uncertain, it is suggested you prepare 3 scenarios: conservative best case, likely and worst-case scenarios.  How long will the business survive in each scenario?
  • (You can use this handy template) 

Create an action plan for each scenario.

  • Consider how many staff you need to keep on – and what will they do
  • If you need to start restructuring or reducing hours, how and when will you do this
  • Do you need to halt production of certain products or reduce services?
  • Consider the following areas: People & Productivity, Customers & Marketing,  Operations & Processes
  • Create a list of priorities and key tasks. Who is going to do what, and when do they need to do it by? 

Continue reading.....

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard

Tuesday 24th March - Chamber Expands Support Services for Rotorua Business

The Rotorua Business Chamber is offering a new service to assist local businesses affected by COVID-19.  Business Owners and Maori Trusts are now able to access up to $5000 (ex GST) in funding for professional advice in the following areas:

  • HR
  • Health and Wellness
  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Finance and Cashflow Management

Regional Growth Advisors from the Rotorua Business Chamber are administering the service, this is funded by a portion of a $4m grant made available to businesses last week by the Government through the Regional Business Partner Network or “RBP”. 

Within the Bay of Plenty region the funding is shared between the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce and the Rotorua Business Chamber, as well as Poutama Trust who are focussing on boosting support for Māori business networks and owners.

Allison Lawton, owner of Rotorua business coaching service Avid Agency said “The government’s RBP financial package is a fantastic response to assist
businesses to navigate through COVID-19. 

Business Eligibility:

  • Businesses will need to register on the RBP Platform to access this support and conduct a phone meeting with an RBP Growth Advisor.
  • Business owners or managers should register on the Regional Business Partners Website.

Businesses will need to meet existing eligibility criteria:

  • Have fewer than 50 full time equivalent employees.
  • Are registered for GST in New Zealand.
  • Are operating in a commercial environment; and
  • Are a privately owned businesses, or are a Maori Trust or incorporation under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 or similar organisation managing Maori assets under multiple ownership.

If you are a business based in the Rotorua area and you want to gain free business support from a Business Advisor, please contact Linda at the Rotorua Business Chamber on 021 837 8222

Maori Business can also contact Poutama Trust on 07 348 3599

If you are a business based in Eastern Bay of Plenty, please contact  07-219 3827

Businesses in Tauranga should contact the Chamber of Commerce Biz Help Line on 0800 249 482

The Rotorua Business Chamber is also planning online workshops on issues that are affecting the business community, including financial planning, cash flow, human resource management and an overview of the services available to business owners and operators.

This is a small step in a large problem, but n the present situation, we are doing everything we can to assist our local businesses. Stay safe and look after your loved ones.

Rotorua Business Chamber, CEO
Bryce Heard


Wednesday 4th March - The Year Ahead

As we enter the new decade, it is timely to reflect on the various factors that might influence the business environment that we will be working with.

There are many factors and issues that will impact the immediate future. Some of these include:

  1. 2020 is a General Election Year. This means that we will get more attention from our elected representatives and can look forward to some election promises of benefit to us. Some areas to watch will likely include education and training, housing, law and order, health, policing, welfare, infrastructure and roading. Rotorua needs improvements in all these areas so we will watch with interest.

  2. Coronavirus is throwing a curveball at the whole business world. At the time of writing, it is a rapidly evolving situation with high media attention. It is difficult to assess how bad this virus really is and what effect it will have. On the negative side, Rotorua’s three primary drivers farming, forestry and tourism; are all highly reliant on Chinese markets. All are expecting impacts on business for the coming year and many are already experiencing this. From a broader perspective, coronavirus is rapidly becoming a worldwide outbreak and share markets are reacting negatively, indicating an expectation of lowered growth and the possibility of a recession. In a perhaps best-case scenario, it may pan out to be just a very nasty flu and we may weather the storm without much of the trade impacts presently being experienced. Tourism seems to be at greatest exposure, as people will be less keen to travel for a time.

  3. Closer to home the issue of CBD recovery occupies much time and attention. It is a deeply entrenched issue affecting us all. It involves central government, local government, business, housing supply, motel owners, private investors, property owners, Iwi, police and Ministry of Social Development (to name a few!) We get a lot of “expert” advice from those on the periphery of the problem, but practical solutions are in somewhat lesser supply. Closer attention to public safety is the immediate concern of the businesses in the CBD and we expect to see some movement in this space in the near term. Notwithstanding investment and development in the CBD is running strongly and this is a huge plus that we must continue to foster and grow.

  4. Employment remains a key issue for Rotorua and we are working with the plethora of providers helping to prepare our young for employment. Our role as a chamber is to bring the employers’ perspective to the debate and try to avoid mismatches between what the education system is producing and what the employers need. Of concern are the recent figures on school truancy, which appear to be worsening.

  5. There are many more issues, but the one that overlays everything we do is the growing public concern about environmental sustainability. New Colmar Brunton polling shows us that the consumer market is highly sensitised to this and we need to satisfy the markets rapidly rising demands in this aspect. Watch for some thought leadership in this space with the launch of a Bay-wide initiative about mid-year.

It promises to be a big year, so let’s buckle up for the ride!

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive

Friday 28th February - Ngongotaha Roundabout to be Upgraded

Hats off to our local Government MPs Tamati and Fletcher for listening to our community!

The news that the Ngongotaha roundabout and SH5 are to get an upgrade has been met with a chorus of approval from long-suffering commuters coming into the city from the West and North. The congestion has reached crises proportions and the allocation of $14 million to redress the problem shows that our local leaders are hearing our pleas and taking them to Central Government.

From the Chamber, we say a big “Thank you” for a good outcome.

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive


Tuesday 14th January - New Year Message

Hello 2020 Tau hou hari

Hello, members and friends of the Chamber. Welcome to the new year. May it be a year of aroha and prosperity for you and yours.

It only seems like yesterday that many of us were doing our long-term strategic planning and calling it “Vision 2020”. It seemed so far away. Yet here we are. It is the year 2020, a new year and a new decade. Let’s make this one really count!

It promises to be a decade of challenges like nothing we have seen before. A year ago, our new year message from the Chamber included some thoughts that we called “provocative” at the time. Here are some excerpts from that message”

“One area of emerging importance to us all is the environmental issue. It has been our collective custom to regard environmental issues as the problem of regional councils, greenies and a few evangelists, but world-wide events are now demonstrating that protection of the planet that we live in, is rapidly becoming everybody’s business. We may have had our heads in the sand for too long and if we do not all take our share of responsibility to do our individual bit, the pattern of extreme weather events, warming oceans and declining water quality, may well become unmanageable in our lifetime.

Fossil fuel burning is nearing the end of its life cycle and with it, we will see rapid growth in alternative forms of energy including electrification, solar, wind, water and a need for high-performance battery power. Also, the water quality issue is now a major part of the environmental imperative, so water will become a scarce and valued commodity, including purification and de-salination technologies. Plastics will disappear due to the non-biodegradable nature of the product, so we need to know what we will we replace plastics with?”

Events of 2019 have moved rather speedily along this track, including a Government led move away from disposable plastic bags and packaging, a much stronger focus on water quality, speeding up of electrification, more extreme weather events and latterly the disastrous Australian bush fires.

A year ago, we went on to say: “It’s not all bad news though, because history has shown us that step changes in society come with a plethora of hitherto unimagined opportunities, especially for the early movers. The steel age brought us masses of engineering, fabrication and ship building businesses; the petrochemical age saw the emergence of international oil and plastics businesses; the motor car age ushered in the conversion from bicycles and horse and buggy to powered vehicle; the aviation age brought aircraft and international travel for all; the IT age saw the IT and computer companies and unforeseeable changes to the ways in which we communicate. So, it goes on.”

During 2019 the four BOP chambers (Rotorua, Tauranga, Eastern BOP and Taupo) combined with local organisations to form a new initiative, which we have named BayForward. BayForward is designed to help all of us better understand the emerging new environmentally driven reality. Also, to equip ourselves to play our part and to take advantage of the new opportunities that are already emerging for new sustainable products and processes. We will also be seeking out examples of organisations already leading in this space and offering opportunities to profile what success looks like to the wider public. Several BOP-wide events are under planning and preparation.

So, while we will be tending to the many issues that our city confronts and working with our members and partners to make it a better place for all, we are also keeping a “weather eye” on the wider global scene and playing our part on both spaces. Rotorua is well positioned for the upcoming changes. It promises to be a big year!

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive

Wednesday 18th December 2019 - Christmas Message

2019 has been another big year for Rotorua.

The Local Body election campaign highlighted the city’s “to do” list, which is of vital importance to us all. However, at times we need to remind ourselves of the growing list of positives that the city is experiencing.

Central government continued to treat Rotorua generously with PGF funds during the year. The Lakefront, Whakarewarewa Forests, Sir Howard Morrison Centre and Museum projects are now all funded and either underway or preparing for delivery. Private investment has seen the up-market Pullmans Hotel close to completion and two further similar high-end hotels announced. A large Motor Inn has been completed and two more are under construction on Fairy Springs Road. Significant new or upgraded buildings can be seen under construction on lower Fenton Street and elsewhere.

Against this, the CBD problems of vacant retail space and anti-social behaviour cannot be ignored and has had its share of publicity. The Chamber commissioned an MBA Student Internship on the CBD issue aimed at learning from other cities’ experiences. The results are expected in early 2020.

The Chamber’s position is to learn from others, to take a wider and balanced view of the issues and continue to foster the positives. Ultimately well-managed growth, with economic development, property investment and new jobs will win through.

We have also moved strategically into the pathways to employment space during 2019. We are advocating to draw all the good work done at the employees’ (supply) end, together into a composite whole. We are working to draw the employers’ (market end) into the debate about the quality and competencies needed by employers in 2020 and beyond. A Rotorua Centric approach is under development and the Chamber is leading a submission to MSD with a joint plan and associated funding for permanent resources to work in this space.

Our Environmental initiative with the four other BOP chambers (BayForward) is scheduled for launch in mid-2020. If successful, BayForward will uncover lots of new opportunities for business in the emerging environmentally sensitive markets. We aim to bring these opportunities to a wider audience across the spectrum, in the BOP.

The 2019 Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards were another very successful event and set new highs with 633 attendees and 52 entrants. The quality of entrants was high and Maori business featured prominently in the finalists and winners.

We welcomed Miriam Hewson and Felicity Farrell to the Chamber board and Amanda Brake to the senior staff. We also fare-welled Jos Pemberton after a lengthy and sterling performance with the Chamber.

To all our members and friends, we wish you all a very relaxed and enjoyable festive season and an even better 2020!

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive


29th August 2019 - Chamber of Commerce - A facilitator of change

The Rotorua and Eastern Bay Business Chambers are facilitators of change, economic and business growth and provide focused services to their members and the business community. The strength this service provides to the local business community is invaluable.

In the past six years, as part of the Chambers involvement with the Regional Business Partnership, an investment of $2.2 million has been made into the Eastern Bay and Rotorua districts.  The Chambers deliver this investment, of which around $1.1 million has been funded through a government initiative, via New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand’s international development agency.  This focuses on building business capability.

Additionally, there has been significant investment with respect to research and development through Callaghan Innovation, an organisation focused on enabling change through technology and improving efficacy in business.  A number of businesses have engaged with Callaghan Innovation to develop potential research and development (R&D) activities.  Within the Rotorua area, a number of businesses have engaged with the ‘Better by Lean’ Programme as well as becoming actively involved in R&D programmes.  This is a process that changes the way businesses operate. 

Through the Business Chambers providing a focused development service, the business community has a range of opportunities to grow and develop its members. Support is available, so please contact either the Eastern Bay or Rotorua Business Chamber, they are ready to help.

Contact, Rotorua Business Chamber – 07 346 3657, Eastern Bay Chamber of Commerce – O7 306 3370

Phil Becker

Regional Growth Advisor


1st August 2019 - The Environmental Age has arrived and for all business, the opportunities will be limitless.

Everywhere smart business leaders are talking about a new set of values and using words like social responsibility, recycling, renewable, compostable, low emissions, sustainably produced, traceable and biodegradable.

Consumers are becoming very particular about what they buy and eat, demanding measurable and demonstrable qualities in the products they buy and the processes used for making them.

Current trends require products that are sustainable, renewable, non-plastic, conducive to clean water and atmosphere, non-petrochemical, healthy and traceable to source. Some of the products we have used daily are swiftly becoming unacceptable, redundant or even regulated out of existence.

In short – The Environmental Age is upon us and we can ignore it at our peril or jump on the wave of change and become one of the early movers. New business opportunities are here.

There is already a flood of early movers of all shapes and sizes jumping onto this wave, both in NZ and globally.

A quick scan of recent weekly publications reveals such early adopters:

  • The Zespri CEO proclaiming an intent to “target” plastic packaging and get it out of their system.
  • A tea company “Zeelong Tea” growing 100% traceable organic tea “from picking to packing”, near Hamilton.
  • Farmers to take penalties on methane emissions.
  • Foresters designing carbon sequestration tree crops.
  • A company called Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd seeking to build a wind farm on the Kaimai ranges.
  • An article about Humate – “the purest form of natural material known”
  • A story about an entrepreneurial young couple Tahlia and Semesi Hutchison starting up a new compostable nappy business in Auckland.

The Chamber believes there is a new opportunity for entrepreneurial businesses and some are already making their mark in the area.

Do you operate or know of, such a business?

Are you interested in telling your story or learning more?

To provide feedback contact

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive


18th July 2019 - Let’s Build a Bold and Inspirational Plan for a new look CBD.

The CBD degradation belongs to us all. It is not just a council problem.

The Chamber believes that we and our members should play a major role in finding the solutions. We recommended the idea of rating remission for capital improvements to council recently. This was well received but much more is needed.

 Council is responsible for town planning and must be an integral part of any solution, but we cannot just throw the problem to council to fix and then criticise them if it does not happen. Money is a big part of the solution, including dollar returns to those who make the investment and operate in the CBD.

One thing we now need is a bold and inspirational plan for our new look CBD. This will show us what the end game looks like and how our own individual investments and properties will feature. It will also provide some guidelines for owners and developers to follow. Who is going to make large investments if we cannot see the end game of a vibrant and prosperous CBD?

Here are some openers for consideration.

An Inspirational CBD Plan

A Unique Maori/Timber Theme. Rotorua should develop a strong city architectural theme throughout the CBD. Rotorua is often referred to as “the Heart of the NZ Forestry Industry” and “the Heart of Maoridom”. Both pseudonyms are factually correct. Additionally, Rotorua is the only bi-lingual city in NZ and has the only credible “Wood First” policy. It follows that a theme of modern timber design, based on Maori stylized art is the natural “fit” for the CBD redevelopment. This will give the city a recognisable point of difference from all other tourist destinations, which is uniquely Rotorua. Eat Streat has already begun this theme and expert architectural services are currently working in this Maori/Timber design space, within the city.

North for Tourism and South for Retail

Rotorua attracts around 1.2 million visitors per year but is short of high-end accommodation. Unfortunately, they only stay for about one and a half nights and spend about $430. Queenstown, by contrast achieves 4 nights per visitor and $1500 spend. RLC strategy is to develop the Lakefront area in the North as the tourism focus for high end accommodation. It follows that tourism shopping will slot in neatly to the Northern precincts. Continue to foster the Central Mall and the South for local retail demand.  

A Tutanekai Spine.

RLC strategy has been to keep the Tutanekai Street spine tenanted and to maintain a North/South walkway linkage from the Central Mall to the Lakefront. Keep Tutanekai Street as foot traffic only (with vehicle crossings East/West).

The Rotorua Courthouse.

The courthouse is simply not tenable in its present location. The Chambers’ position is to lobby strongly with the Ministry for Justice, to get this moved to a more appropriate location away from the main spine of tourism and general public activity.

Inner-City Living.

Rotorua has a shortage of housing and rapid expansion is limited by suitable land, subdivision work, capital and infrastructural services. All of these are expensive and slow to install. There are approximately 63 vacant buildings within the CBD precinct and many partially occupied ones. Promoting the conversion of inner-city buildings to residential apartments is a logical part of any solution.

The Precinct Concept.

Eat Streat was the first attempt by Council to set up a precinct of common businesses within a zone. The concept of precincts is that they attract foot traffic and then enable individual businesses to compete based on service, quality and price. Negotiating for precincts that do not require major capital investment can be done directly with tenants (as in the Eat Streat example), thus simplifying the consultation process. It is also an interim step to inducing major capital investment as has occurred adjacent to Eat Streat.

Developing the Inspirational Plan - An Accord of Interested Parties.

 There are many other ideas out there, but no easy forum to share them. Should we produce such an inspirational plan? There are two ways to do this. One way is to employ a consultant for a large sum of money. This has already been done, but the results have not yet translated into an inspirational CBD plan, shared by all of us.

A better way may be to form a representative group of local experts in planning, investment, development, architectural design, and develop the plan for ourselves. The chamber is comfortable to help facilitate such a group.

Are you with us in wanting to bring about these and other solutions? Please email with your thoughts

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive

6th June 2019 - Rotorua High Court

The location of the Rotorua High Court has long been a sensitive subject for this town.

Situated on the main city thoroughfare, adjacent to tourism shopping, recreation, retail and eating places, is less than an ideal location. The city centre should be a place that caters for citizens and visitors alike, to relax and enjoy.

However, at times this can be difficult when high-profile criminal cases are being trialled in the High Court. At such times it is not uncommon to see over 100 people loitering in the vicinity.

Moreover, the so-called “Rotorua” Court serves the wider Bay of Plenty and surrounding areas like Tauranga, Whakatane, Kawerau, Opotiki, Taupo and Tokoroa, not just Rotorua. Consequently, the other towns’ problems are not only trialled here but also appear in the media as Rotorua’s own problems!

The nett result is that Rotorua is seen by the public of NZ and the visitors to our city, as the place where all the Central North Island serious crime resides. Little wonder Rotorua’s reputation is poor, and our businesses often struggle to attract middle and higher-end staff to the town.

Just across from the High Court is the Maori Land Court on Haupapa Street. Would it be possible to swap the two over? Or maybe relocate it adjacent to the police station?

Town Planning is developing the concept of Lake Front development at the Northern end of the CBD, with a tourism focus; plus, Central Mall development at the South. The two are connected by the Tutanekai Street “spine” or walkway. Having the High Court in the middle of this seems to defeat the objective.

 I think it is time for the citizens of Rotorua to make a stand on this matter to the Ministry for Justice.

“Please move your courthouse to another location, away from the heart of our city”.

Bryce Heard

Rotorua Business Chamber


23rd May 2019 - New business opportunities with the Chambers of Commerce

Today’s businesses have many choices to make in the ever-changing business environment. Just thinking about current technology is mind-blowing enough - 40 years ago there were no mobile phone and emails, how did we manage then? Now, there is the future possibility of 100% electric, driverless flying taxi’s! Kitty Hawk

Or the progressive removal of plastics and petrochemicals from the economy and replacement of them with… what exactly??

So, what do changes of this nature mean for most of us, as we try to navigate the normal business working week? Well, led by the four BoP Chambers of Commerce, there is the intention to connect and support local businesses with lots of new emerging business opportunities.

“Environmental issues are currently driving major changes in societal and business behaviours and new "norms" are developing at a very fast pace.  This "step change" in societal values and behaviours is also rapidly emerging worldwide.”
However, a look back at history illustrates very clearly, that previous "step changes" in societal behaviours have brought about a wave of new business opportunities. Some examples of these new business opportunities can be seen in the masses of new businesses that were spawned from the Industrial Age, the Combustion Engine Age, the Air Travel Age, the IT Age and now, the Environmental Age.
Therefore, rather than seeing the new Environmental Age as a threat, to be feared and resisted, we propose to help businesses to seek out and seize new opportunities and become early movers in the change process.

Discussions have been held between the Chambers and the Sustainable Business Network, Rotorua Sustainable Charter, Sustainable Business Solutions and NZTE to understand the pathway to be taken and the information needed from, and for, the wider membership to enable the right program to be created.

The ultimate plan is to run a series of ongoing, coordinated workshops, targeted at the Chamber membership using successful companies and organisations already operating in this space.  These workshops will seek to identify the new opportunities, foster uptake of these and of best practices, speak business language and avoid clichés and position-taking along the way.

We want to involve everyone and get this conversation going, and we would like you to help us understand exactly where you are and what your participative interest would be.

Therefore, we would be grateful if you could complete a simple survey that will be coming your way in the next week or two, so we can shape the right program for you.

With appreciation for your help and guidance

Bryce Heard

Rotorua Business Chamber

9th May 2019 - City access roads

Among the list of issues confronting our city, perhaps one of the most frustrating to residents is the deteriorating traffic access in and out of the city during peak traffic hours.

At the western end, we have the much-discussed but little actioned Ngongotaha roundabout. To the layman, the simple solution is to re-insert the old slip lane for traffic coming from Tauranga, so they are not in conflict with the Hamilton SH5 traffic flow. (Yes that’s right RE-insert it – it used to be there!) Traffic backed upright through Ngongotaha, often to the Waititi bridge is the norm here at 8 am in the mornings, and it seems easily fixed and quite unnecessary.

Out east we were promised by former Government that four lanes would be constructed right out to the airport, but this has gone nowhere since their demise at the last election. Meanwhile, we all suffer the congestion in our daily beat to and from work every day.

We all understand that the Rotorua Lakes Council has little control over State Highways, but they do have some political clout.

Can we hope for some action on these roading challenges over the next 12 months?

Noho ora mai

Bryce Heard

Rotorua Business Chamber


21st April 2019 - Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards 2019 - is now officially - Launched!

Rotorua’s biggest annual social event is scheduled for Saturday 5th October 2019. That seems a long way away, but it is a big occasion and takes a lot of work and planning to make it a success each year. Put this date in your calendar now – it is one you will want to share with us.

Last year we used an online entry platform which proved successful, so this is to be repeated for 2019.

On-Line Entries will be open from 1st May.

This year our judging team will be selecting “the best” in six Business Excellence categories, and eight specialist categories. One of the Business Excellence category winners will go on to become the 2019 Supreme Overall Winner. We will also be selecting Rotorua’s Business Person of the Year and the entity who has made an “Outstanding Contribution to Rotorua”.

 It promises to be another spectacular occasion.

Early-bird entries (by 2nd July) will go into a draw for $1000 worth of Air NZ travel vouchers. Assistance with preparing and writing entries is available. Contact Jos for details at 027 3470860 or email at

Our sponsors are foremost among those who help it happen and we are deeply appreciative of their support. Please see below for the sponsors and their category.

To enter go to

Noho ora mai

Bryce Heard

Rotorua Business Chamber


18th April 2019 - Do you need high-quality young entry-level staff?

We are aware of our networks that some of our members are seeking good quality young staff to train for careers in key roles. The Chamber supports those working in this space and there are currently two pipelines you can tap into to assist members to find the right person for the right role.

The first of these sources are school leavers.

In this space, the Ministry of Education facilitates matchmaking school leavers and employers. The Ministry runs periodic events with employers and school leavers where matchmaking takes place. The Ministry holds a dossier of good youngsters seeking good jobs. At one such event in Rotorua last week, 70 school leavers met with employers holding over 70 available roles. 69 of the 70 found a match between their job wants and the employers’ needs. Several have already taken roles. The next event is planned for September, so if you are keen to find quality school leavers contact Kirsten at

The second avenue is to access selected cadets from the pool of people seeking roles through Work and Income. The Auckland chamber runs a program where pre-selected volunteers are skimmed off the work training programmes and assisted at the Rotorua chamber for local roles. This is a three-month program and for the first month (April) nine cadets have been successfully placed.

This scheme is called Cadet Max and to become involved or to interview with pre-screened cadets email Hilary at or Yvette at

There are lots of good kids out there seeking work and who deserve a break. Good luck with your staff recruitments and we are happy to be of service!

Noho ora mai

Bryce Heard

Rotorua Business Chamber


4th April 2019 - Investing in Rotorua's future. Vanity Projects or Future Security?

There has been an upsurge in public interest around investing in Rotorua’s future in recent weeks. It is to be expected that people aspiring for election to council will be rolling out their “policy stances” on the issue of public interest as we lead into the Local Body elections later this year. It is one of the frailties of the democratic system that various viewpoints get expressed in colourful and simplistic terms during election campaigns. How do I make a good decision with my vote when there is so much conflicting advice in the media?

As a part of the present campaign, Council’s investment in the Lakefront development project ($20.1 million) and the Whakarewarewa forests project ($7.1 million), are coming under fire from some of the aspiring politicians in the media, as part of their election campaigning.

Perhaps a calmer and more thoughtful approach would be helpful at times like this.

Firstly, half the cost of these projects is being funded by Central Government, so some of the numbers being thrown around need to be divided in half. $27.2 million is the Council’s share of these two projects.

Secondly, some are arguing that other projects are of higher importance so why don’t we do these other projects first? These include the Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.  However, the funding for these is coming from a variety of sources including pub charities, significant individual donors and other funding bodies.  It is simplistic to think that external funding can be moved around on a whim.  Each of these Council projects has an external funding target to reach that is as individual as the projects themselves.

Then there is the argument that this is a waste of ratepayers’ money and we should just can the work altogether. I think about it this way.

  • Rotorua is a tourism-driven town
  • Tourism contributed $479.3 million to the Rotorua Economy in 2018.
  • Tourism made up 17.2% of our total GDP in 2018 (source of stats is Infometrics)
  • This revenue directly supports and underpins the retail, hospitality, restaurants, hotels, motels and cafes, and every other business and service in the town, indirectly.
  • Tourism is the largest source of Rotorua’s core purpose for being and this has been the case for well over 150 years.
  • Do we want to lose this position to other cities that DO invest in producing a quality experience for their visitors – like Queenstown who already outstrips us at $683.2 million in 2018 and 32.1% of its GDP?
  • Would you want to visit a city to holiday where the lakefront, a centrepiece of the town, is visibly below par and verging on unsavoury?
  • Or would you rather go somewhere beautiful, clean, fresh and relaxing?

The question of affordability is a question of mitigating the risk of losing market share and rather increasing market share for the Rotorua tourism sector and through it, the greater Rotorua economy.

To me, nothing is certain in this equation, except one thing. If we do NOT do it, we will lose market share.

 It is not a “reckless waste of ratepayers money on vanity projects” as some have been claiming. It is an investment designed to protect our future welfare and we should applaud the Council for securing the Government co-funding and having the foresight and courage to push ahead with the investment.

So long as the council stays within safe and prudent debt gearing levels, we should take every opportunity to invest in the future wellbeing of our city.

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber

(The views expressed in this release are those of myself and not necessarily those of individual Chamber members)


21 February 2019 - The Housing "Crisis"

There has been much publicity in the media about the NZ housing crisis. To the layman, some confusing signals are emerging on this subject. We hear about the tens and even hundreds of thousands of “affordable homes” that are so urgently needed, to house NZ’s people. The Government was driven to pledge to build them. But the Government has produced just a tiny fraction of its intended houses and we are now told that they attract little interest in the market from first home buyers.

Yet the housing shortage is supported by the rising cost of rentals, rising property values and the seemingly growing number of homeless people. Why then, do so few people want to buy a new home? Have we entered an age when young people no longer want to own their own home on a section and would rather rent?  Is their income insufficient to buy an “affordable home”? Has the longstanding NZ fashion of owning your own home on a ¼ acre section run its course - or are there other factors at play here?

The government is also looking at introducing a Capital Gains Tax. Will this not simply discourage those who can afford to build quality owned (and rental) accommodation, from doing so? Will it not just serve to exacerbate the shortage?

Rotorua Lakes Council has identified a housing shortage of its own, based on the projected growth for the city. Do we have a plan to deliver this? Will the national trend of nobody wanting to own “affordable houses” apply to us? If so, should we be concentrating on medium-density rental accommodation and lifestyle blocks rather than ¼ acre sections?

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber


13 February 2019 - The Environmental Revolution - A Titanic Pain in the Neck or a Tsunami of Opportunity?

For several decades we have seen the Green movement and business at loggerheads over the issue of environmental concerns. Business has seen the “Greens” as radical hippies, while the Greens perceive business as uncaring capitalists. Argument and conflict have often occupied this space where the constructive dialogue should ideally have predominated. Business has not taken kindly to being issued with “you have to” ultimatums. Conservationists, on the other hand, have been driven by real concerns and perception of rapidly deteriorating standards of the environment, universally. The language in the “debate” has often been confrontational and non-productive to either party.

The result of this conflict has been denied in many parts of business, plus some seemingly, well-intentioned intervention by central, regional and local government which has often had unintended consequences and served to entrench positions of both parts of this critical debate.

I believe that it is time for a fresh, forward-looking approach, as has already been achieved in other countries. For example -

  • 50% of new car sales last year (2018) in China were electric vehicles
  • Australia has a football pitch sized battery paired with a wind farm which can supply 30,000 homes with electricity

Let’s see the Environmental Revolution for what it is. It is a sea change in societal behaviour – and like all sea changes throughout history, it is packed to the brim with new business opportunities.

Let’s reflect on some of the historical sea changes in society to see if there are lessons for us there.

The Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution changes brought unforeseen opportunities that have exploded and re-exploded exponentially, in number and size ever since! The advent of steel smelting, the development of engineering, fabrication and shipping industries, led to world trade and construction of unimagined structures and machines. The discovery of oil and its tens of thousands of applications – the internal combustion engine, the motor car industry, the air travel industry, and flowing from this international tourism and trade. Plastic began as a use for the “waste products” from oil refining and has grown to now totally dominate the materials industries taking over from wood, rubber, wool, leather, cotton, linen, glass, iron and paper. With plastic came the development of thousands of new utilities. The very life we lead is determined by a sea change that took place so long ago! It is far cry from the peasant, semi-nomadic lifestyle that preceded it.

Some folk chose to resist or deny historical changes. Others embraced them and harnessed the opportunities that the changes brought. They created new opportunities for themselves and the world at large.

The Environmental Revolution.

We now have the Environmental Revolution bearing down on society like a proverbial tsunami. It promises to be equally as transformational as the industrial revolution. If we ignore it, it will likely be devastating to life as we know it. However, if we embrace, harness and seek out the thousands of opportunities contained within, it can turn from a catastrophe to the best, most exhilarating surfing ride, we could ever imagine!

The decision is ours to make. Be an early mover or a laggard.

What would you choose?  What opportunities can you identify with?

 BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber


29 January 2019 - More "Stuff We Should Know About

Further to my previous post regarding Rotorua and our "clean lake" discussions.....

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has approached us because they believe that some parts of my article are incorrect. They are unable to argue the case publicly however, as the matter is before the courts - Plan Change 10.

The Chamber acknowledges that there will be different views on this subject and that it is a moving feast. We do recommend that people read this and other related articles and make up your mind.

Lake Rotorua and our beautiful city are at the heart of the important freshwater discussion. Following the recent article by our CEO, read more with these links.
Farmers Weekly
Coast and Country

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber


16 January 2019 - Stuff We Should Know About

Lake Rotorua and our beautiful city are at the heart of the important freshwater discussion and as citizens of Rotorua, this is really “Stuff We Should Know About”. Let me explain.

But first, let me be crystal clear, (yes pun intended) we all want crystal clean lakes in and around Rotorua. Clean lake water is pre-requisite to our city’s welfare in so many ways, including tourism, recreation, fishing and water sports that we all enjoy. How we get it, is the issue.

I read with interest a lead story in the January 14th Farmers Weekly, entitled “Caution urged on Overseer use”. The story featured Overseer Chief Executive Caroline Read, trying to tell regional councils and central Government some simple facts of life – facts that they really do not seem to want to hear. (Two similar articles appear in the January edition of Coast and Country).

Overseer is a modelling tool, designed to model (not measure) nitrogen loss from soil. The articles went to pains to establish, from the most impeccable and reputable sources, that Overseer is being misused by regional councils, as a measurement tool to try and ascertain actual nutrient discharges from individual properties – something that the Farmers Weekly article states “can never be known because it cannot be reliably measured”.

Why is this so important to Rotorua?

  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) has used Overseer and (Overseer alone) to model individual farm nitrogen discharges, right across the Lake Rotorua catchment.

  • It has extrapolated its models to dictate what stocking rates will now be permitted on every block, including lifestyle blocks.

  • The new allowable stocking rates will be a lot lower than those currently run on the farms.

  • This means that many formerly economic farms will be rendered uneconomic units.

  • These changes have been publicly notified as Plan Change 10.

  • Catchment land values have plunged as an immediate consequence and landowners

    who relied on selling their property as their superannuation fund upon retirement,

    will now be deprived of this income.

  • Farms could be sold off at fire-sale

    prices and farmers will be out of work in the medium term.

  • Farming is one of only three primary drivers of the Rotorua economy, yet most farming will not be sustainable under the proposed Plan Change 10, (which is now being challenged in the Environment Court, before implementation).

Has anyone actually tried talking with landowners to get their input on how best to achieve the outcomes we all seek? They are the experts here and they too want clear water lakes.

It seems to me (and I have been quite close to the debate) that a series of ultimatums backed up by Rules and trying to enforce those Rules is the position adopted by the regional councils and others on this matter.

Does all the wisdom about farming reside in the regional councils? I think not -especially when the tool is used to write the new Rules (Overseer) has now been exposed by its very owner as not capable of performing this measurement role!

How about a partnership approach to this problem? A simple Accord, agreeing to work together to meet defined targets? There are many ways to skin this cat, apart from enforcing ill-informed de-stocking of farms. BOPRC will say they have been in consultation for years and it is now time to take action. But there is a different kind of consultation that can happen when both parties treat the other as respected equals, seeking common solutions.

So come on BOPRC, there is a chance to show some true leadership here and build some bridges with those who can solve our collective problem – the landowners.

Rotorua’s economy will shrink – not grow – if this becomes reality, when we could work together positively to achieve a good outcome for us all.

 BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber


14 January 2019 - Minimum Wage Increase in Perspective

The new minimum wage increase can be seen as dangerous - but will be a good thing if we can sustain growth of the economy.

One of the fundamental principles of business is not to allow costs to rise ahead of revenues. All businesses strive constantly to keep costs and revenues in balance. Additional costs that are imposed outside the control of business management, are among the biggest risks of business failure.

Balancing this business imperative against the human imperative of a decent sustainable standard of living for employees, is always going to be an emotional tug of war for all concerned. How much should we put the business at risk, to help the lower paid get a better living standard? If the business fails nobody has a job.

We have seen the minimum wage increase from $12.00 in 2008 to $17.70 in 2019. That is an increase of 47.5% and most would agree that it needed to shift.

However, it is very dangerous for higher costs to be enforced by legislation or decree by those who have no responsibility for the consequences of their decisions – no matter how well-intentioned those decisions may be.

If a business is in a healthy state of growth, it can sustain higher costs, so a growing and healthy economy is the first imperative for higher living standards.

There is always a suspicion that the business owner will pocket the profits from a growing economy and indeed some will do exactly that. However, there is also a market force at play here - if the economy is booming, incomes are growing, more jobs are created, good employees are in short supply, so a business will pay more to retain and recruit their staff (and employees get the chance to pick and choose their employer).

So, in short – a growing economy will allow minimum wages (and all wages) to increase. Let’s be thankful that we have growth in Rotorua!

Then there is the environmental sustainability of a growing economy to consider – yet another imperative. That can be achieved as well, but that is another story and let’s leave something for another time.

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber


19th December 2018

As the curtain falls on 2018, it is timely to look back at the year and review what we have achieved and where we might go in 2019.

In retrospect, it has been quite a year!

Three new staff members began during the year, relieving some of the pressure on Jos and Phil. Linda took on the role of Regional Growth Advisor in June, Bryce became Interim CEO in July and Nikeey was employed as Membership Liaison Officer in October.

The new board took office in July with a fresh perspective of the best way forward for the organisation. Some of the results of this new positioning are now coming through. They include strengthening the business leadership and advocacy role, focussing on and fostering the true drivers of growth in the Rotorua economy, working in the void between business and sustainability and helping fill this knowledge gap to the betterment of both ideals.

In 2019 we are adopting a name change – we will be the Rotorua Business Chamber which reflects our positioning more accurately than the old Chamber of Commerce name.

2019 will see a lot more developments in this space.

In October the annual Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards were run before a near-record attendance of over 630. Record attendance was matched by record-equalling entries (47 in all) and a fantastic evening was enjoyed by all. We repositioned the categories this year to better reflect the multi-cultural and primary sector-driven nature of our unique Rotorua economy and that was positively reflected in the entry and attendance on the night.

Meanwhile, the Rotorua economy has been humming along at levels often ahead of national and Bay of Plenty averages, something we have not experienced for decades in this city. Tourism is enjoying a big upswing and most of the other primary drivers have been steady to strong.

The year has seen a string of announcements about new investment into and funding of, big developments that will keep Rotorua positioned as a leading provincial city and tourism attraction.

Many leading speakers have been hosted, most of these sponsored by Pukeroa Oruawhata.

Space for 2019 bookings is already filling rapidly, including Business Connection Breakfasts, BA5’s, Apps Seminars and Women in Business.

So, to all our sponsors, stakeholders, partners, old and new members and all who want to become members – a big “thank you” for your support during 2018 and a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year - from your staff and the board of the Rotorua Business Chamber.

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber


12th December 2018 - Rotorua economy ends the year on a strong note

We have much to be happy about with the local economy as the curtain falls on 2018, says Chamber Chief Executive, Bryce Heard. 
While the fourth quarter stats are not yet to hand, the September quarter illustrates just how far we have come in the past year.




New Zealand





Residential Consents




House Prices




Guest Nights




Retail Trade




Car Registrations




Tourism Expenditure








All the above indicators are showing strong growth and in many cases a lot stronger than the whole of Bay of Plenty and/or New Zealand. “This scenario would have been inconceivable a few short years ago but has become the norm over the more recent past”, says Heard.

In fact, the only negative indicators are house sales (down 9.1%) and non-residential consents (down 11%), but these tend to be lumpy measures in any scenario.

Crystal ball gazing is always fraught with dangers of the unforeseen, as factors beyond our control, can have an impact on our local business. Things such as world commodity prices for farm and forest produce, currency fluctuations and others all have a bearing on us.

However, if we add in the recently announced $27 million of PGF funding to develop the lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest and the plans under preparation for several other big projects, this trend looks set to continue into the foreseeable future.

I have heard it said that there are more urgent matters to attend such as the restoration of the Museum and the Howard Morrison Centre. This may well be true, but we do not have Central Government fronting up with tens of millions to help fix these and we must seize the opportunities for funding as they come. They seldom come in the order of priority that we may desire!

I have also heard it said that economic growth leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions. This is perhaps true - if we continue to rely on a petrochemical base economy. With our natural advantages including our forests and geothermal resources, Rotorua is well-positioned to move away from petrochemicals to other forms of energy and material supply. It behoves us as business people to help by becoming leading-edge users of new technology and innovative business practices.

We can have the best of all worlds. It is up to us!

BC Heard

Interim CEO

Rotorua Business Chamber