Venture Southland was established in 2001 as a joint initiative of the Invercargill City, Southland District and Gore District Councils.

As the economic development agency for the region the organisation promotes and develops Southland on behalf of all three Southland councils. The unique model of the organisation means that traditional council boundaries do not affect Venture Southland and initiatives, strategies and work plans are developed for the whole region and not just specific areas. Since its inception in 2001, Venture Southland has provided a unified voice for the Southland region and strongly contributed to Southland being viewed as a preferred destination to visit, work, study and live.

Venture Southland is funded through contributions from key stakeholders Invercargill City, Southland District and Gore District Councils and also receives contributions from the Community Trust of Southland and Environment Southland. The organisation structure means that Venture Southland is able to access significant funding that is not normally available to local authorities.

Venture Southland is made up of integrated teams that focus on economic and community development, destination promotion and events for the region. The teams collaborate on many projects to maximise regional benefit and promotion highlighting the benefits of an integrated regional approach where community organisations work together to leverage support and resources. Venture Southland is committed to ensuring that the region continues to be seen as a desired destination for visitors, migrants, investors, students and events.

Mission and Strategic Goals

Working with people and organisations to enhance the prosperity and quality of life of Southlanders

Venture Southland's values are evident in all interactions and initiatives undertaken, with the team dedicated to empowering the Southland region.

Venture Southland Values
  • Be Innovative
  • Build Relationships
  • Be Objective 
  • Demonstrate Integrity 
  • Be Accountable 

To continue promoting Southland as a preferred destination, and to enhance the lifestyle opportunities for all Southlanders, Venture Southland has several strategic goals that help to align the development of work plans and regional strategies.

Venture Southland's Strategic Goals
  • To be the leader in providing regional indicators, statistics and information to allow for informed decisions to be made
  • To drive Southland’s population growth by creating confidence in the future of the region for residents currently living in Southland, and those looking to move here.
  • To create unique, quality experiences and maximise the value of visitors to the region
  • To drive business growth through increased efficiency, competitiveness and investment


The plans and approach to activities developed by Venture Southland are approved by the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee comprises appointed and elected representatives of Southland’s three territorial local authorities and Environment Southland. 

Corporate Structure

Venture Southland Joint Committee

  • Gary Tong (Chair)
  • Cr Gavin Macpherson - Southland District Councillor
  • Cr Rebecca Amundsen - Invercargill City Councillor
  • Cr Cliff Bolger - Gore District Councillor
  • Chair Nicol Horrell - Environment Southland
Venture Southland Advisory Sub Committee

The Venture Southland Advisory Sub Committee meets four times a year to discuss current projects and activities as well as provide direction on possible future activities to be carried out by Venture Southland.

  • Allan Baird (Federated Farmers)
  • Andrew Leys (Otago/Sthld Employers Assn)
  • Clare Hadley (ICC)
  • CR Alex Crackett (ICC)
  • Cr Cliff Bolger (GDC)
  • Cr Douglas Grant (GDC)
  • Cr Gavin Macpherson (SDC)
  • Cr Rebecca Amundsen (ICC)
  • Cr Ross Cockburn (ES)
  • Cr Stuart Baird (SDC)
  • Dr Liz Craig MP (Labour)
  • Hamish Walker MP (National)
  • Luke Macpherson (Chamber of Commerce)
  • Margot Hishon (Community Trust of Southland)
  • Mark Patterson (New Zealand First)
  • Mayor Gary Tong (SDC) (Joint Committee Chair)
  • Mayor Tim Shadbolt (ICC)
  • Mayor Tracy Hicks (GDC)
  • Melissa Brook (ICC)
  • Penny Simmonds (SIT)
  • Rex Capil (SDC)
  • Robert Guyton (ES)
  • Sarah Dowie MP (National)
  • Steve Parry (GDC)
  • Steve Ruru (SDC)
  • Tahirih McLaren-Brown