Local insights report: December 2022/January 2023

Hawke’s Bay local insights report for December 2022/January 2023.

Top regional insights

Hospitality and tourism sector workforce struggles continue to result in temporary closures and reduced hours

The hospitality and tourism sector workforce struggles continue to result in temporary closures and reduced hours, but the worst is yet to come when university and school students return to their studies in early February. Many businesses within the sector are struggling to fill roles, but the biggest shortfalls are in the housekeeping, service staff, chefs and barista workforces. A popular holiday park with an under-staffed housekeeping team is currently only able to service 30 of their 90 rooms, and it is becoming the norm for hospitality businesses to reduce their hours in order to safeguard the wellbeing of their overworked teams. Thousands of travellers passing through Wairoa town were disappointed to find very few hospitality businesses open and able to accommodate them over the Christmas holiday period. Local businesses have not benefitted from the 25,000 working holiday visa holders that have entered NZ since March last year. One Napier eatery manager said it is ‘the worst it has ever been’ and that they had given up trying to sponsor international workers so they could remain here permanently, stating the process took months and was too difficult to navigate. The view within EIT Te Pūkenga is that immigration is only one piece of the puzzle - they would like to see greater promotion of hospitality and tourism qualifications and careers within schools. Hawke’s Bay Tourism is supporting the sector by commissioning a research project to gain greater clarity on the totality of the gaps and barriers within the sector, the results from this piece of work are expected in late February.

Central Hawke’s Bay has welcomed the ability to perform practical testing and a Community Driving Testing Officer (CDTO) to target long standing backlogs

Waipukurau’s CDTO is 1 of 10 graduates from the first Waka Kotahi CDTO training course held in November last year. They have joined the ‘Connect Youth and Community Trust’ team – a group working to address drivers licencing accessibility issues for their rural community, so often a barrier to securing employment. Until now, the only option for HB whānau was a 12-week wait to travel to Dannevirke to sit their test - having a CDTO means locals have the opportunity to sit their test closer to home, and on roads they are familiar with. Together, with support from Hawke’s Bay’s Got Drive CTDOs, 64 Central Hawke’s Bay residents were tested over a 3-week period in the lead up to Christmas. They now enter 2023 well positioned to continue testing to address the remaining backlog, which has been further compounded by the month-long Christmas testing break.

Wairoa is also benefiting from the addition of CDTOs. A CDTO will be offering practical testing once a fortnight through the Wairoa Testing Station (AA driver and vehicle licencing agent). Both regions are awaiting further licencing funding announcements for the 2023/24 year, and are looking to see how the learnings from the ‘2022 Community Consultation Workshops’ will be reflected in these new contracts.

Regional workforce plan update

As we progress Regional Workforce Plan actions, our focus is on brokering working arrangements with important partners and coordinating a number of actions. Since our last update, we have engaged with the following partners to progress our actions:

  • Waihanga Ara Rau
  • Ministry of Education
  • Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce
  • Te Pūkenga
  • Hawke’s Bay Youth Futures Trust
  • Rural Leaders


  • The Ministry of Education has worked with us and other regional stakeholders to progress the regional implementation of the NCEA Change Plan. This will ensure there are clearer pathways for rangatahi to further education and work.
  • We have worked with the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Social Development, EIT Te Pūkenga, and district councils to establish a business connector role that will assist small and medium sized enterprises with their workforce recruitment, retention and training pathways.
  • Initial findings from the Hawke’s Bay Youth Futures Trust (HBYFT) pre-employment mapping hui have been shared with stakeholders. Twenty-six schools, 11 PTEs and 50 other organisations have been identified in the Hawke’s Bay pre-employment space. One key theme from their feedback reflected that there was a perceived lack of collaboration between providers. To help address this the HBYFT has offered to establish an annual event for providers.


  • The RSLG is working alongside 9 other regional government agencies to improve attendance participation and engagement in education. This mahi – Tēnei Tamaiti, Tēnei Whānau - is based on an approach that listens to the whānau voice. Our role is to provide advice about alternative pathways into education and employment.
  • The RSLG has engaged with around 80 students across the rohe to get their perspective on what they see as future career options and what resources they need to get there. This complements the work the RSLG is doing with the Ministry of Education to deliver careers workshops with career advisors and industry representatives.

Key sectors – Primary and Construction

  • The RSLG secretariat met with the organisation Rural Leaders who are developing a leadership manual ‘Designing a food and fibre leadership system for a changing world’. This is part of a project sponsored by the Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence, and the RSLG will take part in a focus group seeking to gain regional insights as this project progresses. It aligns well with Action 5 of the RSLG Regional Workforce Plan which is scoping leadership 

Regional activities

Opportunities and challenges

Central Hawke’s Bay farming sector has a ‘cloudy’ view of the economy as they head into 2023

Rising costs, climbing interest rates, increased Government policy and regulations, and the impact on supply chains from overseas political tensions are being felt by the farming community - but the full scale of these impacts remains unclear. Collectively this is making it difficult for the sector to make long-term decisions and is creating a business slowdown across the board. The farming sector urges consideration of overseas models that provide support mechanisms for agricultural businesses, including discounted fuel and financial assistance with machinery costs. They would also like to see better promotion of the flow-on economic benefits the industry has on all of NZ, not just the rural communities they farm in.

Te Pae Tawhiti Trust is working alongside Enabled’s ‘Whānau Against Meth’ to make a difference in the lives of Wairoa whaiora who have been harmed by methamphetamine use

Te Whaiora Ara Tapu is an addiction and counselling programme that works with methamphetamine users and their whānau and friends. The therapeutic approach is informed by Te Ao Māori and is an individualised programme supporting clients with counselling, group support sessions, education and other therapeutic activities. Enabled’s ‘Whānau Against Meth’ service was started in 2019 as a result of the ‘Nannies Against P’ movement and tautoko’s the Te Whaiora Ara Tapu programme by offering holistic healing, Te Ao Māori healing therapies, rangatahi day programmes and wananga. Training and upskilling are key components of Te Whaiora Ara Tapu, and the team utilise their connections to iwi land, farms and orchards to provide upskilling opportunities for their whaiora. As they enter their third year, the team are focussed on further strengthening employer relationships to achieve better training and employment outcomes for their whaiora. In the first year of operation 74% completed the programme, with 43 percent going into further training.

Te Kāhui Ōhanga o Takitimu (Te Kāhui Ōhanga) has leveraged their collective strength and identified future workforce development capability issues in the region

Te Kāhui Ōhanga is a collective of entities representing iwi and hapū interests including Iwi, Taiwhenua and Post Settlement Governance Entities within the Kahungunu region. The workforce needs to be addressed include:

Māori Governance and leadership:

Developing tailored pathways to grow and develop Māori governance capability across all levels and support Māori leadership courses to grow middle management towards executive levels.

Te Taiao and environmental:

Technical, cultural capability, planning and consenting, resource management, scientific, policy and analysis, and project leadership are all growth opportunities for Māori. They will encourage both technical and cultural skills to be developed concurrently to ensure a Te Ao Māori lens.

Project management:

Operating models rely on project management expertise so there is a need to grow project management, from small to large scale projects.

Technical and digital:

Increasing digital and technological changes means Māori must keep pace with the skills and knowledge required for future work environments, this includes AI, augmented reality and increased digitization.

Māori policy and thought leadership:

There is a need to grow policy analysis and reporting to enable improved achievement of shared outcomes while working with the Crown on projects and opportunities.

Culture capability:

Foster Māori led mentorship to support and grow Mātauranga Māori and the practice of tikanga Māori.

Prepared by the regionally led Hawke’s Bay Regional Skills Leadership Group.

For further information, please contact: HawkesbayRSLG@mbie.govt.nz

Last updated: 14 February 2023