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NZ T&E funding turns dream into reality

NZ T&E funding turns dream into reality for GO Wairarapa

The announcement today, Wednesday 8 November, by NZ Trade and Enterprise of almost $2 million from the Major Regional Initiative (MRI) Fund for the development of a Wairarapa 'Cuisine and Fine Wine' project heralds a huge cycle of growth for the region. GO Wairarapa, the region's economic development agency, bid for funding in 2004 and has since worked to develop an infrastructure to support the two strands of the initiative: an International School of Cuisine and the promotion of Wairarapa wines to overseas markets.

"GO Wairarapa is extremely excited to see two years of negotiations come to fruition now we begin to see the vision we have for the Wairarapa's cuisine and wine sectors become a reality and the whole region benefit from this major investment," says Anna Head, GO Wairarapa MRI Project Manager.

Under the banner 'Cuisine and Fine Wine' GO Wairarapa has redefined its strategy to focus on developing the region's cuisine and wine sectors. "GO Wairarapa has been working to upskill local businesses, particularly members of the cuisine and wine industry, with training and information exchange. We have facilitated the development of groups such as the Wairarapa Olive Growers who are now achieving significant international success and the Wairarapa Food Group who are responsible for developments such as the Wairarapa Farmers' Market," says Anna. "We have joined forces with our neighbours to successfully market the Classic New Zealand Wine trail running from Hawke's Bay to Marlborough, and have developed a new food and wine guide to market Wairarapa to domestic and international visitors. All of these initiatives combine to aid recognition of Wairarapa as a destination for 'Cuisine and Fine Wine."

During the last two years GO Wairarapa has worked to help establish 'Wairarapa Wine Promotional Group' a region-wide marketing group. "Our premium wines are already one of Wairarapa's major assets, and with this investment, there is potential for growth. This MRI funding will develop strategies to maximise the potential of Wairarapa's boutique wine industry and, in turn, enhance the region's appeal for a growing number of domestic and international visitors. Increasingly, travellers are seeking greater levels of interaction and a premium wine and food experience we will be able to tempt even more to spend time in Wairarapa," says Anna.

NZ T&E funding turns dream into reality for GO Wairarapa, 8 Nov 2006 - page two of two

In addition, over the last two years GO Wairarapa has worked to turn the vision for an International School of Cuisine into a reality, by supporting the development of the partnership between the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) and the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary institution. The initiative will also see a new state-of-the-art cuisine school; hundreds of international students arrive in Wairarapa and opportunities for both new business start-up and expansion as this centre of excellence develops to its full potential.

"The endorsement of globally recognised cuisine brand, Le Cordon Bleu, is a coup for the region. With UCOL committed to delivering a quality educational experience, Wairarapa is in a strong position to capitalise on this NZ Trade and Enterprise MRI funding."

"The establishment of the International School of Cuisine brings economic benefits for Wairarapa in the short-term the long term success of the initiative will depend very much on how our community embraces the school and builds on the opportunities it presents. Students will come from New Zealand and from around the globe, we must provide a welcoming atmosphere and create a rich experience for them. They will become chefs of the future and will remain ambassadors for the region and its produce long after they have completed their studies here if Wairarapa can welcome them on both personal and professional levels," says Anna. "Wairarapa will ultimately benefit from recognition as a centre of excellence for food and wine production around the world."

GO Wairarapa will continue to be involved with the MRI: allocating funds, establishing a governing body the 'Land Based Innovations Trust' and reporting on progress. GO Wairarapa has already begun research towards developing a business case for a second phase of MRI funding.


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