The Southland Regional Development Strategy was initiated by the Southland Mayoral Forum in late 2014, establishing the goal of attracting 10,000 more people to Southland by 2025.  

The strategy represents the combined efforts of local and central government, iwi, and the business and social sectors, and identifies the future challenges in front of Southland to achieving growth. 

Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan

To address the identified challenges in the strategy,  the Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan was launched in 2015, outlining the actions required to achieve significant regional growth.

At the centre of the plan is the vision of Southland being a contemporary, competitive and connected region. To make this happen, the plan focuses on the three major challenges of growing the population, diversifying the regional economy and strengthening local business.

Venture Southland's role

Venture Southland is supporting the implementation of the Southland Regional Development strategy by delivering a number of the initiatives detailed in the Action Plan, including:

Grow Population


Southland Story

Venture Southland (VS) is facilitating the development of the Southland Story that articulates a unified message of Southland identity, recognising and celebrating the past, present and future.

Market Insights data

This project has merged into the Southland Story project which involves working with a range of sector representatives and stakeholders to identify how to integrate destination development and attraction initiatives can be integrated across the region.

Grow Southland

To achieve the Southland Regional Development Strategy goal of 10,000 more people by 2025 VS has implemented the following key initiatives Southland Youth Futures, Welcoming Communities, Job Search assistance programme and the i-SITE immigration pilot.

Welcoming Communities

VS is the programme coordinator for the Welcoming Communities pilot in Southland and is overseeing the implementation of the pilot’s objectives alongside the local advisory group. 

Cultural Diversity in the workplace

As part of the job search assistance programme, VS works with key stakeholders to develop initiatives that help businesses to attract and retain skilled workers, and develop cultural diversity in the workplace.

Invercargill rejuvenation

VS continues to support the redevelopment of the CBD with involvement in events such as Matariki and the tickertape parade for Southland’s sporting successes.  The Invercargill i-SITE has been relocated to Wachner place and will help to further boost the redevelopment by bringing visitors to the CBD.

Motorcycle Mecca

VS contributed to the project development of Motorcycle Mecca by assisting in the preparation of a funding application which secured $550,000 for motorcycle focused attraction, VS also provides ongoing RTO marketing support for the organisation.

Southland Museum and Art Gallery

VS provides support to ICC and the Southland Museum and Art Gallery Board to explore new options with strategic planning

Living Dinosaur experience

VS provided resource to complete stage one of the feasibility investigation and is supporting plans to assess a new operational model which is separate.

Inner City living

VS continues to support the redevelopment of the CBD with involvement in events such as Matariki and the tickertape parade for Southland’s sporting successes.  The Invercargill i-SITE has been relocated to Wachner place and will help to further boost inner city rejuvenation.

Regional Partnership Agreement

A Memorandum of Understanding has been established between VS and MBIE relating to attraction and retention programmes in Southland. A regional partnership agreement has also been finalised between MBIE and Venture Southland to facilitate solutions to key issues.


Diversify the regional economy


Southland continues to experience significant growth in the tourism sector with tourism expenditure now at $659 million (June 2018). VS plays a significant role in encouraging this growth. For more information on the tourism services available click here

Destination Strategy

VS is facilitating the development of the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy for 2018-28, which was identified as a key priority project in the tourism section of the Action Plan.

Marketing Plan

The Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy and development of the Southland Story which will inform the development of a regional marketing plan, are both being coordinated by VS.

Events Strategy

VS is facilitating the development of the strategy that will involve developing, implementing and coordinating destination events that can populate an annual calendar, with particular emphasis on the shoulder season.


Product Development

Curio bay Tumu Toka Curioscape

VS worked alongside the South Catlins Charitable Trust to support the development of Tumu Toka Curioscape. More information can be found here

Stewart island Dark Skies Sanctuary

VS commissioned an assessment of the Stewart Island/Rakiura night sky in 2017. Since the assessment, VS worked alongside an independent consultant to submit an application for a dark sky sanctuary on Stewart Island. The application was successful with Stewart Island/Rakiua being awarded Dark Sky Sanctuary accreditation status in January 2019. More information can be found here 

Anderson House

VS supported ICC by identifying four opportunities for Anderson park in a 2016 Feasibility study.  During the 2018/19 first quarter VS sought expressions of interest from people business owners or other groups interested in operating Anderson House. More information can be found here

Stewart Island Rakiura Heritage Centre

VS is providing support to the local community and Trust as the project moves to the build stage. This has involved providing advice regarding funding support and aligning with other heritage projects

Infrastructure Programmes – Curio Bay

Significant resource continues to be provided to Curio Bay enhancement projects, including facilitating the implementation of the Curio Bay Tumu Toka Vision and supporting Southland District Council with infrastructure upgrades.  This included providing support to SDC to develop, fund and implement the wastewater system.

International Students

In conjunction with SIT, VS appointed an International Education Manager who works alongside key stakeholders to attract international students to Southland and maximise the benefits of their visit to the region. More information can be found here


Southern Education Alliance

VS coordinated the establishment of the Southern Education Alliance which is part of the Education New Zealand Regional Partnership Programme. The Alliance which represents the education providers of the Southland region, including primary and secondary schools as well as the Southern Institute of Technology, has developed the ‘Study Southland’ brand.


Strengthen local business

Ease of doing business

As the Regional Business Partner (in partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation), VS provides a wide range of services to strengthen the many businesses operating in Southland. These include but are not limited to business advice referral services, funding information and facilitating a mentoring programme. For more information see Business Services



Pilot for Innovation programme

In a partnership with CreativeHQ, VS is piloting a national-first Business Accelerator Programme in Southland, a satellite for the national programme which is based in Wellington. The programme works with start-ups and entrepreneurs, giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed in Southland’s business climate.



Digital connectivity

The Southland Digital Strategy was developed in 2015 incorporating an updated Digital Strategy, a review of the progress against the 2008 strategy and a digital enablement plan.


VS recognises that the growth of alternative modes of transport must be considered and is involved in collecting campervan data. Also aligning with the tourism section of the Action Plan, VS secured $31,000 to facilitate monitoring of campervan activity in Southland during the 2018/19 summer.


Talent & training Skill formation and support plan

Skills formation

VS administers and coordinates a job search assistance programme that aims to help skilled migrants find work. The programme is part of an overarching migrant settlement and integration strategy aimed at helping migrants make Southland their home, participate fully in the community and contribute to all aspects of New Zealand life.

Southland Youth Futures

VS established Southland Youth Futures in 2014 to better connect young Southlanders with careers in the primary sectors and associated support industries, and to strengthen the pathway between education and employment.