Local insights report: August/September 2023

Hawke's Bay local insights report: August/September 2023

You are welcome to quote from any report below – please attribute the Hawke's Bay Regional Skills Leadership Group, an independent advisory group on regional skills and workforce development. ​

Regional insights

Community Driver Testing Officers (CDTO) and practical licence testing

Community Driver Testing Officers (CDTO) and the re-establishment of practical licence testing in rural regions is changing the lives of whānau. Since testing was reinstated in Central Hawke’s Bay in November 2022, Connect have supported 421 people through testing, with 384 utilising the services of the CDTO. Pass rates have increased from 71% to 85% since the changes because whānau feel more at ease and comfortable being tested in their community and on roads they know.

"Being able to test locally thing that has happened for us as an organisation and for our community and its people."

Kelly Annand, General Manager of ‘Connect’

The practical test route in Wairoa was re-established in December 2022, 10 years after it was previously ceased. Further licencing gains have been made in Hawke’s Bay recently with the arrival of Tairāwhiti REAP’s community programme - supporting whānau who want to sit their full driver licence test. For more information on CDTO’s watch:

How community driver testing officers are changing lives(external link)  — YouTube

Understanding the region’s employment landscape

Hawke’s Bay Tourism has released research undertaken by FOLKL that seeks to better understand the region’s employment landscape. The commissioned report reflected findings drawn from 61 member surveys and 7 interviews of long-term employees, industry representatives and educators. In February 2023, 36% of businesses surveyed said they do not have enough staff and over half did not have enough staff available to operate at capacity. Chefs and kitchen staff (27%) and dishwashers and cleaners (20%) were the most sought after kaimahi. When kaimahi were asked what they look for in a workplace they talked about ‘clear pathways…that had roles for them to grow into…to feel a sense of progression’.

Further findings reflected:

  • the lasting impact of COVID
  • changes to immigration policy
  • wages and the cost of living
  • accommodation shortages.

Opportunities identified through the research centred around better employee and employer relationships and understanding, and greater support of education initiatives. The Hawke’s Bay tourism sector makes up nearly 10% of total employment in the region with 9,468 full and part-time kaimahi participating.

Cadetship programme helping grow the local healthcare workforce

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Te Whatu Ora in Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay’s cadetship programme is helping grow the local healthcare workforce. The 8-week programme is for MSD clients and sees them work 30 hours a week in roles that include:

  • healthcare assistant
  • oral health
  • orderly
  • administration
  • security.

155 cadets have completed the programme since it began in 2021 and 75% of participants remained employed by Te Whatu Ora 6 months after completing the programme. Several participants employed by the hospital are now working towards enrolment in a nursing degree. The nursing workforce shortages remain an issue for the region. Whānau Āwhina Plunket says the pay gap between Te Whatu Ora nurses and community nursing is leaving their services understaffed. There is currently no Plunket nurse located in Wairoa which has left the district reliant on a Napier nurse travelling to care for the 130 whānau in need of their services.

Cyclone Gabrielle - Regional recovery

Transport Rebuild East Coast (TREC)

Transport Rebuild East Coast (TREC) expects to notify ‘Registration of Interest (ROI)’ applicants of suitability for ‘Physical Works Panel’ in early November. Those added to the Panel will be able to tender for individual works packages as they become available.

Initial projects are underway and a significant package of work is expected to be finalised by Christmas. TREC is standing by their ‘local-first’ approach and are focused on supporting small and medium businesses, including helping them meet the work requirements set by the Alliance.

“The East Coast has a strong pool of hard-working, skilled, and experienced contractors, consultants, and businesses who understand both road building and the East Coast whenua.”

Downer and Higgins, the 2 organisations responsible for the East Coast’s Network Outcome Contracts (NOC), have now joined the TREC whānau. Joining the Alliance will mean the ongoing network maintenance and operations can be delivered as part of the TREC programme of work.

Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti CARE Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs)

Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti CARE Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) have put their support behind a letter from their local economic development agencies to Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail asking for assurity that the East Coast cyclone recovery programme of works will deliver broader outcomes for both regions.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Agency (REDA), responsible for progressive procurement under the ‘Economic Growth’ pou of the Hawke’s Bay Recovery Framework, and Trust Tairāwhiti, sent the letter to the agencies’ Chief Executives on 16 October. It sets out the expectation that TREC will work with the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāhwiti regions to achieve social, economic, environmental, and cultural outcomes including targets for contracts awarded to Māori or Pasifika businesses and workforce and upskilling opportunities for those disadvantaged in the labour market. 

Tertiary Education Comission (TEC) 2025 investment advice

The Regional Skills Leadership Groups formally provide TEC with their advice to inform the planned guidance document for the Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) funding round for investment in 2025. The advice document sets out the qualifications, skills, occupations and major projects needs of each region. TEOs are expected to consider this regional advice when they look to determine what qualifications and programmes they will offer in the associated funding year.

The Hawke’s Bay RSLG have engaged with employers, providers and other stakeholders to inform their advice document and it will be submitted to TEC in early November.


We have recommended an increase in investment for multiple qualifications, mainly concentrated in sectors outlined in the 2022 and 2023 Hawke’s Bay RSLG Regional Workforce Plans:

  • Nursing, Kaiāwhina, Māori Health, Hauora
  • Construction and Infrastructure
  • Horticulture Basic Skills, Production and Management
  • Meat and Food Processing
  • Screen Production

Skills Shortages

We have highlighted skills shortages that required tertiary training in:

  • Home Care Services
  • Mātauranga Māori
  • Digital Literacy & Skills
  • Leadership
  • Sustainable Practice in Horticulture

Major Projects

We have provided information relating to the future workforce needs of the most significant projects in the region:

  • Cyclone Recovery Programme of Works
  • Redevelopment of Hawke’s Bay’s Hospital
  • Tihei Wairoa (Wairoa’s Health Locality Plan)
  • Foodeast-Haumako
  • Parkhill Film Studio
  • Harapaki Wind Farm

Broader Priorities

We took the opportunity to raise challenges and promote opportunities around provisioning in the region:

  • Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi & Cultural Competency
  • Pastoral Care
  • Provision in Wairoa
  • Marae-Based Provision
  • Support with Apprenticeship Theory bookwork
  • Tertiary Kaimahi
  • Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) for NIWE Regions

Regional workforce plan – actions update

2022 Action 2

  • Lead the development of a Co-lab Hub in collaboration with regional and national agencies, Iwi, PSGEs, and Taiwhenua organisations.

Building on the partnership with the FFCoVE, the RSLG asked for an analysis of the differing national and international co-lab models. Review of the analysis showed co-labs are a current way of linking labour market actors in the ecosystem, and pre-employment activities are a key function of most models. Research showed there is limited data and/or models that reflect mātauranga Māori and Pasifika co-labs and much more must be done in this space. For more information on the research into co-lab models:

FFCoVE Projects - Hawkes Bay RSLG Actions(external link) — FFCoVE

The RSLG supported the establishment of the Ministry of Social Development’s Jobs and Skills Hub and will continue to do so as they develop their kaupapa to meet the needs of the residential build and cyclone recovery and rebuild programme of work. Looking forward, the RSLG will support the development of other regional hub models to meet the workforce needs of the cyclone recovery and has identified this as an action under the ‘Cyclone Recovery’ focus area in the RWP refresh 2023.

For an update on all 2022 actions please head to:

Hawkes Bay Actions Update [PDF, 193 KB]

Our focus for the next 2 months

Ongoing stakeholder engagements with industry, employers, kaimahi, councils and government agencies to determine cyclone related workforce impacts and mitigations.

Work to deliver actions outlined in the 2023 Hawke’s Bay Regional Workforce Plan Refresh.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Workforce Plan Refresh

Collaboration with the Ministry of Education to support the regional rollout of the NCEA changes, organisation of industry and training provider engagement for secondary school careers advisors.

Last updated: 07 November 2023