Economic diversification has long been a topic of discussion in Queenstown-Lakes, a district historically overly reliant on tourism to sustain its once-booming economy.

And while progress was being made, albeit slowly, Covid, in some ways, could be seen as a blessing, forcing the hands of the council and individual business owners to act, rather than talk about acting. As the area begins its recovery it is now in new territory. The long-held desire by residents to better manage growth, in all forms, and truly diversify the economy must now be at the forefront of planning for the district’s future.

Question 1: What barriers do you believe need to be overcome to fully diversify the Queenstown-Lakes economy?

Question 2: What are your goals and priorities for council?


Council: Queenstown Lakes District Council.


Occupation: retired.

Question 1: Bureaucratic red tape leads a lot of great ideas to end in abandoned despair. We must have a proactive council staff and councilors who will (legally) navigate pathways through the maze.

We must also address the taboo subject of abject poverty in our district. If a society is judged by the wellbeing of its poorest citizens, we’re doing bloody average!

Question 2: QLDC must return to being a ratepayer service.

We must engage with the community and act on their recommendations, rather than paying lip service and ticking compulsory boxes while carrying on with agendas privy only to a selected few.


Council: Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Age: 58.

Occupation: Massey University capability development manager; Shaping Our Future (Queenstown Lakes) board member; NZ Natural Hazards Inc co-chair or board.

Question 1: Prior to Covid, QLDC had the fastest growing and diversifying local economy in New Zealand as remote working, tech sector and film and TV businesses flocked to the district. As we work our way through the Covid crisis the district is once again the fastest growing in the country. The main barriers to a fully diverse economy are the local affordable housing crisis, congested roads, inadequate tertiary education opportunities and an overly conservative council culture.

Question 2: QLDC management culture change. Win back community trust, opening all meetings and decisions to the public.

Enable rapid public and private affordable housing development. Fast-track innovative, efficient, sustainable public transport.

Enable a thriving comprehensive tertiary education sector. Manage growth through district plan review away from tourism. Deliver a diverse, thriving, resilient, sustainable economy.

Comprehensively review spending to avoid the looming QLDC financial crisis. Enhance community funding and streamline processes.

Push for fit for purpose Three Waters reform.


council: Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Age: 44.

Occupation: Structural engineer and current QLDC councillor.

Question 1: 1. A focus on the infrastructure requirements for diversification to flourish. A priority for our district is to secure a reliable power network, while also building on our arts and culture spaces and sporting facilities.

2. Creating career opportunities for our talented kids to stay in our district.

3. Building talent within our district by leaning on the talent that already live here.

4. Implementing our housing strategy so talent has a place to stay.

Question 2: 1. Get some central Queenstown parking into Stanley St.

2. Lead a community discussion on Wanaka Airport and secure its community-led future into the 10-year plan.

3. Reconnect the council with its community. A council that listens to its community and not led by external consultants.

4. A focus in making our streets in the CBD safer.

5. Allocating funding for the recreational opportunities that are now available with the recent Mt Iron purchase.


council: Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Ward: Wanaka Upper Clutha.

Age: 39.

Occupation: carpenter.

Question 1: Queenstown could provide more than just a nice photo opportunity to tourists.

There are many ways to diversify an economy. As I have only have a 75-word allowance to reply in this article, I can’t go into any of them in detail. I have received some interesting ideas from the public on this particular issue, and if you feel you have any other ideas to contribute, ring me on (022) 158-0045. The best idea I’ve…

Question 2: If elected, I’d like to listen more to my electorate. I’d like to find out where the public stand on a particular issue, and then represent that view as accurately as possible to council. I’d like to bring back the original ideas of a representative representing the public. This means involving the public more in the decision-making process.


council: Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Ward: Arrowtown-Kawarau.

Age: 48.

Occupation: Self employed.

Question 1: Accountability and transparency, so we can unequivocally trust the council is acting in the best interest of the community, in order to protect the integrity of our environment. QLDC has been underwhelming in its approach of putting the community and our businesses at the center of its decision-making process. When community-based investments are compromised, a loss of community is experienced. We must nurture our richly diverse environment and leave a legacy for our future generations.

Question 2: Transport/roading needs a multi-layered approach. QLDC must look at higher density development of existing centers, encouraging better land use planning, investing in clean vehicle infrastructure and increasing use of public transportation. Investing in public transport, not as an alternative means of transport, but a purposefully built primary means of transport that is reliable, accessible and resilient. Land-use strategies that focus on creating communities that are self-reliant with access to high quality and sustainable living. [abridged — Ed.]


Council: Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Age: 37.

Occupation: CEO of Startup Queenstown Lakes.

Question 1: We need a mindset shift away from the ”just tourism” mentality, to truly diversify.

Our region has so much more to offer. In the past few years in my work with the Economic Development team I’ve seen huge potential to diversify our region, especially in film and tech.

Question 2: 1. Housing. The shortage is crippling our economy because workers can’t find anywhere to stay.

2. Diversification — we need to move away from a mono-economy and build a resilient diverse economy.

3. No to Three Waters. The current proposal removes local decision-making.

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