Alan Neben is a Mount Maunganui local and an experienced New Zealand publisher.

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As 2023 draws to a close there remains a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and nervousness amongst Bay of Plenty businesspeople. There are on-going challenges from inflation, high interest rates, an uncertain property market, labour shortages and global political instability.

Over the last 12 months we have provided readers with on-going analysis of the performance of the local business economy, reporting the facts, and providing expert opinion.

As in 2022, for every challenge that 2023 has thrown at us, the local business community has adapted to not only survive, but to thrive.

In this BBN 2023 Year in Review, we step through the highlights of the last 12 months of Bay of Plenty Business News as we look forward hopefully to a 2024 that will bring more certainty and stability.

> JANUARY 2023

Our economic commentary team led 2023 with their predictions for the economy in the year ahead – their views noted Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr’s strategy for slowing the economy at the time, and some even predicted a likely defeat of the Labour Government in the 2023 general election later in the year. Senior reporter David Porter warned of the dangerous impacts presented by the global climate crisis in his January Porter Report – a prophetic warning, given the catastrophic impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle which arrived a month later.


For those dinosaurs still mired in the thinking of old that business is a men-only club, BBN’s February Women Leading Bay Business feature edition pointedly dispelled the myth. The special report highlighted 13 women who were all making unique contributions to business in the Bay of Plenty. Watch out for the new crop in our February 2024 update of Women Leading Bay Business. We bought the advent of open AI to the fore back in our February 2023 issue as TechTalk columnist Yvonne Blanch presented our first column (that we’re aware of) written using Chat GPT – an ominous sign for the future perhaps?

> MARCH 2023

While most stories in the March issue focused on the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on the BOP region, Business News journalist Richard Rennie looked in-depth at the effect on Kiwifruit growers dealt another body blow with Zespri’s announcement of further reductions in payouts. Popular Business News columnist Freddie Bennett talks through the lessons to be learned from running 100 miles non-stop.


> APRIL 2023

In April we investigated the congestion at Port of Tauranga bought on by capacity limits, delays to expansion and a busy export season and the threats this was posing to the flow of goods out of Bay of Plenty in 2023. We also announced NZ’s largest mass timber office was building coming to town: The future home of Tauranga City Council’s administration staff at 90 Devonport Road.


> MAY 2023

Our May edition explored changes to Australia’s immigration rules: with demand for labour already under extreme pressure in the Bay of Plenty, David Porter asked local business experts about the impact of changes to Australia’s policy on pathways to citizenship. Their predictions were that the outcomes will not all be rosy. Sticking with the ANZAC theme, I tackled the challenging issue of coming to grips with holiday trading regulations – still confused.

> JUNE 2023

The June 2023 edition of Business News was a distinctly finance focused issue. We launched a new annual feature: Wealth Builders, in which we reached out to finance specialists across the region for their advice and tips for local businesspeople on building wealth. We also reviewed the Labour Government’s recent budget and assessed the impacts for local businesses, and we had a report from Business News journalist Richard Rennie on his trade trip to South Korea.

Little did we know back in January 2023 the challenges that would be confronting local businesses by mid-2023: inflation running at 6.7%, mortgage interest rates of 7.25%, unprecedented roading, health and housing infrastructure issues, record rainfall and flooding and underlying it all, a feeling of uncertainty and nervousness. Yet despite the uncertainties, there was a broad cross-section of inspiring business success stories in the Year Book. We are confident the winds will change – we’re living in a great place to harness that wind change and fly high. Yes, Kiwis can fly.”– Alan Neben, Publisher


> JULY 2023

July marked Bay of Plenty Business News’ seventh birthday. We scoured the archives to see just how much had changed over those seven years and we selected a shortlist of other BOP businesses whose achievements over the years we felt warranted celebration. The accompanying stories from The Law Shop, Enterprise Angels, Copeland Ashcroft and ABC Business Sales made interesting reading, and hopefully provided some real inspiration for the new crop of up-and-coming firms in 2023.

> AUGUST 2023

The August issue announced a massive $70m investment decision for the Whakatane Mill. It also launched Business Under 40s profiling a selection of high-performing local businesspeople under the age of 40. We reached out to the business community and asked them to tell us about the new generation of personnel in their organisations who are really making a difference. We spoke to lawyers, artists, politicians, entrepreneurs and others – the takeout message for us: the future of Bay business is definitely in good hands.


With the October General Election date looming Bay of Plenty Business News September led with a pre-election preview special – the front page headline noted that the choice of government would likely be, ‘Down to the wire’.

We also zero’d in on transport and infrastructure with background stories on Quayside’s new Rangiuru Business Park development and the welcoming of the first goods trains at the Ruakura Inland Port set to transform freight moves across upper North Island.

> OCTOBER 2023

With the marking of Bay of Plenty Business News’ seventh birthday in July, the team decided it was time for a refresh.

The result: a new design, new recyclable paper stock, new page size, new Culture, People and News sections and a whole new feel for news stories in the Bay.

Appropriately, the first ‘new look’ edition featured an investigation of electric vehicles for business and how the advances in EV technology are impacting businesses locally.



While BBNs September pre-election special headline ‘Down to the Wire’ suggested the results of the upcoming election were going to be ‘no sure thing’, the November post-election issue headline told a different story: “NATS DECISIVE CLEAN-SWEEP ACROSS THE BAY”. Feedback from Business News readers was overwhelmingly positive – they loved the new design and particularly the People and Culture sections.


As you will probably have noticed, the Thought Leaders issue is back again this month. We’ve changed things up again this year for the December issue. We’ve said to our regular columnists, “take a break this month”, and we’ve focused the issue almost exclusively on what we term Thought Leaders.

As 2023 comes to a close Bay of Plenty Business News has focused on industry sector leaders and their thoughts on where they see their industry, their business and the Bay of Plenty business community going in 2024 in addition to reflecting on the year that’s been 2023. We think you’ll find their thoughts interesting.

(Don’t worry, the columnists will be back in January).

New year, new people, new inspiration

100 PEOPLE Behind Bay Business – Bay of Plenty Business News’ newest magazine title which launched in 2023, is due to hit the market again with the second edition in 2024.
The magazine profiles the people behind Bay business in an intelligent, insightful and inspiring way so that readers can learn more about them, their expertise, their experience and their business. Look out for 100 PEOPLE Behind Bay Business 2024, coming your way soon.

“We’re excited to tell these stories. This magazine offers a great opportunity for everyone to find out more about the people behind our most successful businesses. It’s quite a unique concept – I think it’s going to be a real winner again in 2024.” – Pete Wales, Business Director

> www.businessnews.co.nz – STAY CONNECTED

Last year BBN experienced what digital services manager Petrina Wilson called ‘an explosion’ in online subscriber numbers.

“That ‘explosion’ hasn’t eased in 2023,” she says. “We have quality content, and the numbers show me that’s what our users demand.

“The growth in our Business News subscriber base, our social channels engagement and our web traffic has continued its upward trajectory in 2023.

“Our subscribers sure let us know our EDM newsletters are in demand – readers want to  be connected, and our exceptionally high open rates prove it.”

The studio design team upgraded the website to compliment the ‘new look’ print edition in October. This has proven to be a winner with increases to user numbers and page views – a great finish to 2023.

Alan Neben
Alan Neben
Alan Neben is a Mount Maunganui local and experienced New Zealand publisher. His columns provide a light-hearted perspective on social changes effecting New Zealanders

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