Our Background

Bay of Connections was established in 2008 after the region’s Triennial Group – the Mayors, Chairs and CEOs of the region’s councils – found a need for a single organisation to connect the subregions, regional agencies and local and central government.

Developed and funded by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Bay of Connections also received initial funding from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

Over the ensuing ten years, Bay of Connections developed a number of regional strategies and action plans, and has served as a voice to increase interest and investment by central government.

A major turning point for regional economic development came in 2017 with the new coalition government’s launch of the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). The PGF enabled regions across New Zealand, including those in the wider Bay of Plenty, to directly unlock growth opportunities and support regional economic development.

Examples of PGF funding for the wider Bay of Plenty region include support for the Lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest developments in Rotorua, the Ōpōtiki Harbour development in Eastern Bay of Plenty, the Taupō Airport upgrade, funding for the Rangiuru Business Park, and the Kawerau container terminal which helps ensure effective freight transport to and from the Port of Tauranga.

These developments, combined with our ten-year milestone, prompted a refresh of the form and function of the Bay of Connections to ensure our support continues to align with the needs of the region. A small working group led an engagement programme with councils, economic development agencies (EDAs), business and iwi representatives to gain further perspectives and insights about the regional development support required.

This led to a set of recommendations regarding the future and focus of Bay of Connections, which were approved by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in mid-2019.

An independent leadership group was established and is working with stakeholders across the region to progress key projects and focus areas.

Bay of Connections continues to be funded by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.