Southland Regional Development Strategy

Latest news: A proposal for the Southland Regional Development Agency is being considered by Southland councils. You can download the proposal for the council-controlled organisation here. [PDF, 96 KB]  


In July 2017, the Southland Mayoral Forum (representing Southland's four councils: Environment Southland, Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council and Southland District Council) undertook a public consultation on how regional development should be managed in Southland.

They proposed the creation of a Southland Regional Development Agency (SRDA) which seeks to combine the work and goals of the Southland Regional Development Strategy & Action Plan, and the regional and economic development activities of Venture Southland into one agency with a broader community base and wider focus.

What's happening now?

A total of 107 submissions were received, which are available for download. An officers' report has also been produced, which contains a summary of the submissions and key findings.

A hearing will be held on Monday 13 November at Environment Southland in the council chambers.

The hearing report, the hearing timetable, and all the submissions are now publicly available online at

Printed copies are available from Environment Southland by request – telephone 03 211 5115.


The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) Action Plan lays the foundation to attract 10,000 people to the province by 2025.

At the launch Government ministers announced a total of $2.4million in investment in tourism, aquaculture, the primary sector, and international education and skills training. A memorandum of understanding was also signed between Southland stakeholders and Air New Zealand to work on initiatives to increase the region’s potential as a destination.

Key points:

  • $950,000 for Southland's aquaculture industry
  • $440,000 to promote international education and primary sector skill development
  • $520,000 to boost Southland's primary sector
  • $250,000 to support the Milford Opportunities Project
  • $130,000 towards the development of the Southland Destination Strategy
  • $80,000 for a feasibility study for Bluff Oyster World
  • $50,000 towards market insights research and development of the Southland Story

Southland Mayoral Forum Chairman and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said Southland faced a demographic time bomb because of an ageing population but was confident the region was up for the challenge.

“Southland has demonstrated in the past that when it pulls together on major projects it is unstoppable. The collective power of the community is very significant,” he said.

The Southland-driven programme was initiated by the Southland Mayoral Forum two years ago. Nine action teams involving more than 100 volunteers from business, iwi, local government and community backgrounds have contributed.

These teams have developed nine projects involving 40 actions.

“Implementation is not going to be without its challenges. For some change is going to bring discomfort as we adjust to new ways of doing things.

“Throughout, we need to keep looking forward, focused on our goals, and supporting each other to give the best we have got,” Hicks said.

Three emerging industries - tourism, international education and aquaculture - are to be targeted for significant growth by 2025.

The MOU with Air New Zealand means the parties have agreed to work collaboratively with a focus on creating greater distinctiveness and scale for tourism in Southland.

“We now have the framework to take our working relationship to a higher level,” Mr Hicks said.

Watch Southland's mayor talk about SoRDS and their aspirations

Watch SoRDS team leaders talk about their visions

For more information go to the SoRDS website.

Gore District Council 29 Bowler Avenue Gore P: 03 209 0330 E: