Top Wellingtonian to chair economic agency

21 October 2014

Marketing heavyweight and cultural entrepreneur Peter Biggs has agreed to be inaugural Chair of the board that will oversee the new region-wide Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA).

The new agency brings together Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Grow Wellington agency with existing Wellington City Council-run tourism and venues agencies, and its major events activities.

Mr Biggs is returning to Wellington following eight years in Melbourne and will take up the appointment in November.

The Chair of the Wellington Mayoral Forum – and Upper Hutt Mayor - Wayne Guppy says Mr Biggs’ agreement to take the Chairmanship “is the best-possible start for WREDA and a signal of confidence in the potential of the Wellington economy.

“It’s hard to find a more energetic, experienced, driven and well-connected person than Peter. I have confidence that he will lead WREDA from the front and give it the profile it needs to become established.”

Mayor Guppy says WREDA will be an economic ‘super-agency’ the region has sorely needed and that will deliver the kind of clout the region needs to occupy a greater presence nationally and internationally.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde also welcome the appointment of Mr Biggs.

Both say WREDA will progress a range of major economic initiatives that will lead to improved regional economic growth.

“Combining business and economic development with tourism promotion, events and venues will give Wellington the muscle we need to get results for the regional economy,” Chair Wilde says. “Fragmentation has not served us well and now we have a chance to get some real focus.”

Mayor Wade-Brown says WREDA brings together the collective skills, talent and resources of the region for a more effective and target growth agency that maximises the significant advantages of the region.

“And I’m delighted that Peter’s creativity will give Wellington’s economic growth agenda a real creative buzz. He understands the value of our innovative, collaborative culture across the arts, film, technology, education and food to name some of this region’s strengths.”

The agency’s operations will be overseen by Mr Biggs and a board of independent directors, appointed for their expertise experience in a range of high growth sectors. Interviews to select the directors will start in the next few weeks, says Mayor Guppy.

Commenting on his appointment, Peter Biggs says: “I feel privileged to be asked to chair WREDA.  Even while I was living in Melbourne, I remained an enthusiastic supporter and advocate of the Wellington region – and showed that commitment by my involvement in a number of Wellington-based entities, including chairing Collect, a rapidly growing tech start-up (now in 22 countries), becoming a trustee of the Wellington Culinary Events Trust, a trustee of the Featherston Camp Memorial Trust and being a founding Board member of Creative Featherston. As well, I continued my connection with the region’s arts sector. 

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity, through the WREDA appointment, to contribute even more deeply to the economic development of the region – for the benefit of everyone who calls the Wellington region their home.”

Peter Biggs – biographical details

Peter has recently retired from the position of Chief Executive of Clemenger BBDO/Melbourne. During his leadership tenure of the agency, it was named one of the top five agencies in the world (The GUNN Report 2014); Campaign Brief’s Australian Agency of the Year for a record five years in a row; and Asia-Pacific’s Most Effective Agency for the last three years in a row.

Before taking up his appointment in Melbourne in February 2006, he was Managing Director of Clemenger BBDO in Wellington.

During his previous time at Clemenger BBDO/Wellington, the agency was New Zealand Agency of the Year in 2002 and 2004, and he was chosen as Agency Chief Executive of the Year in 2003.

In Australia, Peter is Chair of Chunky Move, Australia’s leading contemporary dance company. He is also a member of the Board of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.

In New Zealand, Peter is Chair of the New Zealand Book Council, Chair of the Government Reference Group on Private Giving and Partnerships for the Arts (he recently chaired the Government’s Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce), a member of the World War 1 Centenary Panel, a Board member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (he was Chair of the Panel advising the Governments’ review of the Symphony Orchestras) and a trustee of the Wellington Culinary Events Trust.

He was also Chair of the Arts Council of New Zealand from 1999 to 2006. 

Peter has a first class honours degree in English Literature and Latin from Victoria University. He is married to Mary and has four children. Their family home is “Te Puhi”, a property just outside Featherston.

A former Wellingtonian of the Year, Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013.