Friday, 24th February, 2023

The recent cyclone that devastated much of the North Island, continues to dominate our news stories and our thoughts.  Our hearts go out to those affected by the cyclone, those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods and of course those who have lost loved ones. While I’m hugely grateful that our local community was spared the worst of the damage, my heart goes out to those impacted by the loss. The effects of this will stay with us all for a long time.

On a positive note, Alex Berntsen joined our team this week as the new Membership and Relationship Manager.  Alex will be maintaining our membership database, sending out our regular communications, managing our social media presence, and helping Casey to organise our events.  Welcome to the team Alex!

In the last newsletter, we attached a link to a short survey around business confidence.

60% of respondents indicated that they were either confident or very confident about the future of their business in the next 12 months.  80% were looking to keep current staffing levels, and 20% were looking to increase.  The biggest challenges that businesses are facing is recruiting and retaining staff, increased costs due to wages, inflation, and transportation.  When asked about what the Chamber could do to assist, the most common answer was more training opportunities, particularly during the day.  We have taken this on board and are working on the provision of business training through short seminars.  We would be keen to hear from members as to what they would like training on. Reach out to us at the Chamber and let us know what areas you would like training in, and we will work with our providers to make this happen. Contact Alex on

We have a busy year of events planned that will give our members the opportunity to network with other businesses, learn new skills, and hear from our community leaders.  First up on 8 March is the BNZ Women in Business networking event, celebrating International Womens’ Day.  We have three leading ladies on the panel, Bronwen Foxx – President of EBoP Chamber and CEO Disabilities Resource Centre, Faylene Tunui – Mayor of Kawerau District, and Steph O’Sullivan – CEO Whakatāne District Council so book your tickets for this special evening event.

Coming up on 17 March, we have invited the Mayor of Whakatāne District Victor Luca, and Steph O’Sullivan to speak at a breakfast, to outline their plans for the remainder of the term. Places will be limited, so book your place by emailing

Our showcase event of the year is the HEG Business Excellence Awards. This will be held in the Whakatāne Memorial Hall on 12 August this year. More information will be coming out during March on how you can enter your business into the awards. The awards provide a great opportunity to learn more about how your business compares with other similar sized businesses, gain insights into what you do well and what you could do better.