Summit calls for 'free flights' to NZ

23:03, Jun 24 2009
SHARON HUNTER: Founder of PC Direct and co-chair of the summit

Making New Zealand a "No Moan Zone" and turning possums into fur coats were among the best ideas to improve New Zealand's economy at today's Entrepreneurial Summit in Auckland.

The summit, chaired by Tenby Powell and Sharon Hunter, attracted well over a hundred entrepreneurs and business people from around the country to discuss ideas on how to improve the country's productivity.

More than 100 business people attended the New Zealand Entrepreneurial Summit and discussed more than 170 ideas.

Organisers presented the top five ideas to Minister of Commerce Simon Power.

These were:

- Giving visitors a free Air New Zealand flight to New Zealand from any where in the world, if they purchased a $10,000 Air NZ special edition Visa debit card which can only be spent on goods and services within New Zealand.


- Harvesting 70 million possums for economic benefit through selling fur, which would create jobs, protect native animals and improve the environment.

- Running an attitude campaign with the slogan "Give it a go bro!", from Jan 2010. The aim of this would be to engrain the slogan into New Zealanders' DNA psyche, in order to help create a sense of national pride and identity.

- Creating a "Flying Kiwi Fund", which would be used to attract investors to fund the growth phase of New Zealand business opportunities. This $50 million fund would create jobs and provide business mentoring. It could be funded by retail investors, rich individuals and possibly the Government.

- Encouraging research and development.

Ideas were pre-submitted and would need to be implementable within 18 months, need to contribute to national or regional growth and attract funding from the private sector.

One of those who originally came up with the idea to gather together like-minded business people was Tony Falkenstein, chief executive of Just Water International.

He said the idea of bringing together people from high-powered businesses with younger people and smaller businesses might have made free discussion difficult, but he was pleasantly surprised.

"It's worked better than I thought.  I thought egos would get in the way, but we've worked past that," said Falkenstein.

Summit chairwoman Sharon Hunter, co-founder of PC Direct, said she was confident something productive would come out of the day's deliberations.

"I think it's really realistic to think we'll come up with some practical ideas.  People are very keen to stay with the ideas and [principle sponsors] PricewaterhouseCoopers and Auckland University of Technology have committed to stick with it," said Hunter.