When I was a young schoolboy I lived, together with my parents and three siblings, up on the western hills looking over the Hutt Valley.
Most of my free time, during those young and adventure filled days (without television or computers), was spent building either sledges or trolleys on which we used to test our skills without doing any serious damage to our bodies.
The old wooden one lane swing bridge at Melling was our means of access across the Hutt River into the Hutt township.
At that time there were a number of companies line dredging the rocks out of the river to be used for construction and road building. Today the river is not dredged with the result that higher stop banks have to be constructed to contain infrequent heavy storm water volumes from flooding adjacent residential areas on the Valley floor.
This was a time of much industrial activity in the Hutt Valley. It was the period just following the Second World War and the Valley was making a significant contribution to the industrial growth of this young country. The newly established Fletcher Construction was busy building state houses in Taita and Naenae and Elb’s Milk Bar was a hive of social activity on a Saturday night at the south end of High Street.
The Hutt Valley was alive and well. It was the major industrial hub for New Zealand with significant employment of trade labour particularly in the car assembly industry, meat works, railway workshops and over a wide range of other industries.
There were many large industrial employers here in the Hutt Valley most of whom have now dis-established their businesses or moved to other locations.
Over the last thirty years manufacturing in the Hutt Valley has been on a journey of transformation from those large scale plants to smaller new entities many of which involve applied science, advanced engineering and creative knowledge.
Such enterprises require an environment that is quite different to that which applied during the time of those old large scale manufacturing plants.
The Hutt Valley was and still is the manufacturing heartland of the Wellington Region.
This should not be surprising since whilst the nature of manufacturing has transformed from those significant large manufacturing plants we now have a significant number of SME’s who have established niche areas for themselves both in the local and international marketplace.
Because much of this transformation has happened under the radar, and with manufacturing carrying such a low profile in New Zealand , it is no wonder a majority of people , both locally and within New Zealand , have an opinion that there is little or no manufacturing left in the Wellington Region.
Hi-Value manufacturing is a key focus for the current Government and its newly established super-ministry MBIE together with the establishment of Callaghan Innovation.
The late Sir Paul Callaghan was a staunch advocate New Zealand needs to build on its fine tradition of creativity, innovation and enterprise together with a greater emphasis on science and innovation.
Now is the time for us to all work together to give manufacturing the profile and recognition it deserves.
The Technology Valley Vision has been developed as a means of engaging stakeholders to be empowered and to assist with the shaping of economic development within the Hutt Valley and Wellington Region.