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The Tairāwhiti Gisborne region needs workers to meet the growth projected in key industries.


Over the next five years, thousands of jobs are coming up in Tairāwhiti Gisborne and we don’t have the working age population to fill them. Forestry, horticulture and tourism are all booming.

We grow 53 percent of New Zealand’s sweet corn and that’s set to rise. There are 500 hectares of new plantings in orchards. Persimmons, feijoas, avocados, apples, grapes, kiwifruit and lemons are already in the ground and growing fast. They will need to be picked processed, marketed and sold. 

Growth in the above sectors will have a flow-on effect of employment opportunities. We will need more trucks and drivers to cart the fruit, wood and vegetables. We will need more salespeople to sell it across the world, more accountants to count it all and marketers to open new markets. Is that you?

Activate Tairāwhiti GM Economic Development spoke to key industry leaders in Tairāwhiti Gisborne about their future labour requirements. His research revealed over the next five years that:

  • The forestry and horticulture sectors will need 1,800 new workers.
  • The 500 hectares of new plantings will create 250 fulltime positions.
  • The tourism sector will need about 950 new people.
  • Trucking companies will require ten to 12 extra drivers each year for the next four years.
  • The engineering sector also predicts workforce growth.


When James Alder moved back to Gisborne in 2016, his partner, two children and the business came too.

As the founder and chief executive of www.bookme.co.nz, James relocated the business hub without so much as an online ripple.

James grew up in Gisborne but for the last five years he and his family have been living in Whangarei, where his partner Liz’s family is from.

Their reasons for moving here were for family, so the kids could grow up with cousins and grandparents close, plus the lifestyle. 

You always feel so relaxed here. You get off the plane in Gisborne and don’t wear shoes anymore. And where else can you nip out for a lunchtime surf in this country.

His online business Bookme has been up-and-running for six years. It offers great deals on adventure activities across New Zealand.  

He doesn’t have an office as such, though he is eyeing up an old caravan he might do up.

Laptop open, phone in hand, Bookme.co.nz founder and CEO James Alder can operate his online business from anywhere – even a Gisborne cafe.

Since moving back to Tairāwhiti Gisborne, James says he can feel an increased level of excitement and energy.

“There’s a ‘we can do it’ energy, we are about to go through some exciting changes and growth,” he says.


New Wave Surfboards owners Rachael and Vish Lalla. Business owners, parents, living in Tairāwhiti Gisborne and making high quality surfboards for five surf breaks of national significance around Tairāwhiti Gisborne. Dreams do come true.

Some local businesses are making enough from the local economy. Take Vish and Rachael Lalla bought New Wave Surfboards in 2014. Their shop, set opposite Waikenae Beach, is regarded with great affection among surfers for its long history and pioneering designs. Since it opened, the New Wave has been synonymous with high-quality boards and excellent craftsmanship.

Original owner Ralph Blake still works there and brings 40 years’ experience to his new employee role. Vish says Ralph is one of the best shapers and designers in the country.

But he admits it’s not easy. Vish grew up on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, where he made surfboards for 13 years. He took up surfing at 16, but it was an hour-and-a-half drive from where he lived to the beach. When he arrived in Tairāwhiti Gisborne, no one would hire a young surfer from the other side of the world. So he started making boards in his shed and never gave up.

The determination paid off. The business grew until he was able to buy New Wave, which had declined with the advent of cheaper imported products. But with growing demand for hand-made boards and a brand that has historic significance, New Wave is on the rise again.

For Vish and Rachael, it’s the seamlessness of business and life that makes living in Tairāwhiti Gisborne so appealing.

Live your dream. I am!


Katrina Potter and her husband Jim moved to Tairāwhiti Gisborne to give their three children opportunities to grow. Other drawcards were the lifestyle, cheaper living costs, affordable home ownership and EIT Tairāwhiti – a polytechnic in Gisborne where Katrina could study nursing.

Katrina is of Ngai Tuahuriri iwi descent and has a love for the region. She will finish her studies in 2017 and is very positive about getting a job after she graduates.

She could work at Gisborne Hospital, in primary health, community health or find a position up the Coast. Wherever she works, it will be in or close to Gisborne because they all love it here and as Katrina says, “I’m not moving”.


Studying hard for her final year of nursing, EIT Tairāwhiti student Katrina Potter is very positive about the job opportunities in Tairāwhiti Gisborne after she graduates.


It is only a two-year stint at Gisborne Hospital for the house surgeons as part of their on-going training before they move on to the next District Health Board, but they love their time here. Dr William Ladyman, 25, and Dr Morgan Pedersen, 27, love the work/life balance Tairāwhiti Gisborne offers.

"It's a great place for young professionals to work because there's a small group of us and it's quite social - not just at the hospital but other young professionals in the community too," says Dr Pedersen.

It's also a much easier place to live in general. You don't have to endure a one-hour commute, we've got a good work/life balance and the sun – the sun!

Dr Ladyman loves the sunshine hours here too and wanted a stint in a small town to enjoy some work-life balance. "In Gisborne you can live at the beach, you can bike from A to B and it is only a 15-minute drive from one side of town to the other."

Work/life balance