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Government Economics Network Conference

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6 December 2019

Te Papa, Wellington



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The theme of this year's conference is 'The role of regional and urban development in lifting living standards'. 

International speakers include:

Victor Bennett, Duke University US, who is an expert in regional economic policy with recent research on the trend in the American economy towards fewer, bigger firms that are harder to displace: why this might be and what it means for the economy. Victor also sits as an Advisor and Member of the NZ Business Performance Panel, and holds a particularly interested in how technology – like automation, the cloud, and AI – affects the rate of new startups and displacement of established firms.

Prof David Levinson, University of Sydney (adjunct to University of Minnesota) – on transport, land use, urban development and wellbeing. ‘Transport networks are not simply about moving people around faster; they’re about connecting people and goods with the places they need to go safely, efficiently and with minimal social and environmental costs.’ Professor David Levinson’s research focuses on how best to do this.


New Zealand speakers include academic and practitioner economists, regional council leadership and urban and environmental planners:

  • Dr Ganesh Nana, Chief Economist at BERL. Ganesh is an expert in economic development having carried out many projects relevant to NZ’s regions, with clients including regional and local councils, and iwi. In recent years Ganesh’s work has seen a focus on the Māori economy and incorporating this information into a nation-wide modelling framework. The growing importance of the Māori economy to the nation’s future economic prosperity can no longer be ignored.
  • Kate Mackness, University of Waikato. Kate’s research interests include urban planning, spatial planning, planning frameworks and policy development. Plus local government, politics and social housing. Kate will talk on spatial economic analysis, including the built environment and how this contributes to economic, social, health and environmental outcomes.
  • To’osavili Nigel Bickle, Chief Executive of Hastings District Council, previously head of the Provincial Development Unit.
  • Tina Porou, expert environmental planner with Poipoia Ltd. Tina is of Ngati Porou, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngai Tamanuhiri. She has been an environmental planner for the last 20 years working with local authorities, iwi and hapu, central government and the private sector on a range of natural resource matters. Her expertise is in connecting matauranga Maori with technical skills in the planning field to build win-win outcomes for the environment and our sustainable businesses.
  • Dr Bill-Kaye Blake, Director, PwC and Honorary Associate Professor at Lincoln University. Bill’s work covers agriculture, natural resources, business models, infrastructure, healthcare and quantitative modelling for policy and commercial purposes. Bill co-edited the recently published book Heartland Strong – How rural New Zealand can change and thrive

Register for GEN 2019 Conference here.