CE Hamish Riach: Celebrating business and our diverse beginnings

Published: 29 February 2024

It was a pleasure to attend two events last weekend that celebrated the wonderful people of the Ashburton district.

One of those events was the ANZ Business of the Year Awards, held in the Ashburton Aviation Museum’s superhangar with close to 350 people in attendance.

The awards are held every two years and are run by Council’s Economic Development team, with the help of event managers Ri Ra. The range of local businesses and their achievements, and the talent and passion of the people who run them was outstanding and inspiring.

The event had great support from entrants (a short list of finalists was created from more than 100 entries), and from businesses that sponsored the different categories or gave support in other ways.

As local government, we are legislated with the task of improving the economic wellbeing of our community – in the present and for the future. A strong and sustainable economy offers better job opportunities and higher wages, and attracts more investment to the district.

Last weekend’s awards celebrated businesses that were relatively new, like the supreme winner Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa, and businesses that have served the district consistently well over decades, like RX Plastics. Listening to those who won awards reinforced the drive and sheer hard work needed to get ahead, stay ahead and succeed.

While agriculture is the backbone of our local economy, it was also clear we have eggs in many other baskets, including manufacturing, construction, tourism and retail.

The opening of the Ng King community heritage park was also an occasion to celebrate and I hope residents will take the chance to stop by at Allens Road and check out the work that has been done here.

Council was approached back in 2008 by the late Yep Ng, who was looking for help to preserve and restore the former market gardens site. It took years to get in touch with all the descendants of the Chinese market gardeners who settled in Ashburton and worked on the site from 1921 to 1964; agreeing to the future care of the site and surrounding open space is Council’s commitment that their legacy is not lost.

Moving from China to New Zealand 100 years ago would have had many challenges, but like all migrants they were looking for a new start and a new way of living. Their journey to Mid Canterbury will be forever part of our landscape.

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