About us

The Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce is a progressive and innovative society, founded in 1943. We are your voice for business, passionate about supporting the local business community and advocating on behalf of both employers and employees.

We represent the views of business to influence the policy and decisions-makers of our cities, our region and our country. Our voice reflects the interests and concerns of business owners, with the aim of providing a business environment conducive to growth.

We have active links with local and regional government and the 20,000 strong international Chamber of Commerce movement. The Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce team is led by CEO, Helen Down and backed by a Board of Directors of local business professionals.

Our members and partners are vital to our operations. Our important work is only achievable with the ongoing support of our business community.

Our Chamber provides expert business advice, guidance and training and many network opportunities. Join us and forge new relationships and opportunities within our wide business network.

This website platform was built in March 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic to help answer the unique challenges this environment poses to our business community.

Please be aware our previous platform is still running and you can continue to benefit from expert business advice and assistance by registering for many additional online events at www.hutt-chamber.org.nz.

Shouting Out for Local Business

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If there was ever a time for local business to be supported and heard loudly, Covid-19 is it. The Hutt Valley Covid-19 Business Support Group is all about making sure Hutt Valley businesses are heard loud and clear, and receiving every bit of support possible.

As the threat of Covid became real in early March, the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Hutt City Council and the Upper Hutt City Council together formed the Hutt Valley Covid-19 Business Support Group. This group had one single aim: to support and help all Hutt Valley businesses navigate the impacts of Covid-19.

The team quickly set up and administered a Facebook group; ‘Hutt Valley Covid-19 Business Support Group’. Led by the team, local businesses came together online here to help each other, share information and to raise issues.

Almost daily livestreams took place featuring local, well-known and respected business people. They gave their time freely, providing reliable and up to date information in what had become a fast-changing new world. Livestreams covered numerous current topics, including the wage subsidy, mortgage holidays, commercial lease obligations, tax obligations, employer rights and many more.

The team behind the Hutt Valley Covid-19 Business Support Group met online every day, addressing numerous issues facing local business. They tirelessly advocated for these businesses, lobbying government departments and ministries to keep businesses operating and supported. They organised media coverage, facilitated expert advice, coordinated free government training and support funding, and made hundreds of proactive outbound phone calls to local businesses. They sent thousands of emails, phoned various government departments, conducted research and provided statistics to support local industry.

Their efforts were pivotal in keeping local manufacturers open, including one who designed and supplied 3,000 face visors urgently to the Hutt Valley DHB during Alert Level 4. The group advocated loudly for the Pet Services industry to reopen at Alert Level 3 – an extensive service across the Hutt Valley and a positive win for many local businesses and pet owners. They facilitated numerous media stories to profile local businesses in the Hutt Valley. They conducted two business surveys, with the results fed directly to ministers and government departments. This information, gained from almost 450 local businesses, was referenced by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

Throughout all the Covid-19 Alert Levels, the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce provided all their services free to every business across the valley.

The Hutt Valley Covid-19 Business Support Group continues to operate and support all local businesses with a focus on recovery.

Thank you to all Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce Members and Partners for your ongoing financial support to enable us to be a strong voice for the entire Hutt Valley business community.
We couldn’t have done it without you.

If you would like to support our work on Covid-19 recovery, please join us.

Meet The Team

- Helen - ABOUT US

Helen Down

CEO

Helen has been Hutt Valley of Chamber of Commerce CEO since 2018. She is extremely passionate about local business, having worked with local business owners for many years, running her own businesses. Helen regularly meets with both local and central government, to promote the needs of the local business community.

What Helen’s loving about lockdown? Definitely working from home and not commuting. Helen’s also loving the fact that we as a Chamber have formed some very excellent relationships that have made it much easier to get stuff done and respond well in an extremely challenging situation. We have formed some solid, trusting relationships. worth more than we ever could have expected. Helen has been truly inspired by the resilience, innovation and enthusiasm of our business community. What’s not so great about lockdown? Drawing boundaries between home and work has been difficult. Learning to walk away from the phone and desk to take time out is taking some getting used to!

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Hannah Doile

Events Coordinator

Hannah is a recent graduate from Victoria University, qualifying with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Management. Hannah liaises with our members and partners, organises all of our events and livestreams and keeps everyone in touch.

Her love for events stems from being a bit of a social butterfly as she not only enjoys organising events but also attending the many local concerts and events all over New Zealand. Unfortunately lockdown has put the socialising on hold but that hasn’t stopped her from developing her cooking skills or being a plant Mum. Hannah looks forward to meeting you all online and hopefully Face to Face sometime soon.

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Malcolm Bell

Principal Advisor

I’m Malcolm Bell and I am a member of the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce and Industry with my little consultancy called LGSD Facilitation Services – LGSD stands for Let’s Get Stuff Done.

The Chamber has two contracts in the education to employment transition area – one from the Ministry of Education to provide events and speakers to help with those transitions, and another with the Ministry of Social Development to provide transition to employment brokerage services. All of this is challenging in the current environment!   I am contracted on a short-term basis as a Principal Advisor to assist with establishing connections with schools and their careers/transition teachers.  We are working out ways in which we can help schools in this strange environment.  It’s great to be working with such a dedicated, innovative group of people.

As far as the Covid 19 lockdown goes, my wife, Jane, and I are still enjoying our daily walks around the neighbourhood, which includes catching up with two of our grandchildren 5 minutes away.  We have shouted conversations with them through closed windows. Our two other grandchildren are on a farm just south of Dannevirke.  We have whole family zoom calls on a Sunday afternoon, so we catch up then. The two things I look forward to the most in level 2 (when we finally get there) are hugging my children and grandchildren, and getting away to our holiday place on the shores of Lake Taupo.

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Raewyn Langford

Senior Digital Marketer

Raewyn takes care of our digital communications and marketing activities, from looking after our websites to our social media channels, press releases and associated graphic design. Two things she’s loving about lockdown? Extra cuddles with her furbuddies – mind you, she says only one of her cats is super cuddly; the other one growls when you pick her up. Raewyn’s loving the quiet neighbourhood and not missing the commute at all! What’s not so great? Being a keen crafter and sewer, Raewyn is always on the lookout for the next good deal so she does miss bargain hunting in the local op shops as you can never have too many crafting projects on the go …

Our Board of Directors

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Mark Skelly, President

Owner, Red Hot Business Coaching

Mark passionately believes that the Hutt Valley is an amazing place to grow a thriving business and raise a family. He co-founded Red Hot Business Coaching here in the valley 10 years ago and has had the privilege of helping many individual owners remove the barriers to growth in their businesses over that time. Mark’s career has included a number of senior management roles with nation-wide responsibilities.

Mark and his wife Megan have two children, and he has been on the board of Wa Ora Montessori School for the past 7 years. He is known for making things happen.

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Dave Morgan, Vice President

Principal of LINK Business Broking - Wellington

Dave has had a successful career as a business investor, spotting businesses in need of professional management and robust operating systems. He has bought and sold businesses in the tourism sector, retail sector and the service industry and has extensive experience operating multiple franchise outlets.

With considerable experience as a ‘hands off’ operator, Dave focuses more on the importance of strong business systems and quality training. This experience has helped him identify opportunities to develop the maximum return from his operations and extract the best price for his businesses.

As the Principal of the Wellington office of Link Business Broking, Dave and his team of brokers are at the forefront of helping the baby boomers exit their businesses and extract their capital from their enterprises. Link Wellington has been a platinum sponsor of the HVCC for the last 3 years and is actively involved with the Chamber.

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Neville Baker

Many Past Top Level Leadership Roles

Neville Baker originally from Taranaki, Atiawa and Ngati Mutunga descent, has reigned in top level leadership rolels throughout his successful career starting from Te Aute College through to Victoria University and full time opportunities such as Deputy Secretary of Maori Affairs and Director of Maori Development Cooperation. A Nuffield Scholarship which took him to London where he had placements for the Welsh Development Cooperative, Scottish Highlands Development Board, handling economic conditions for United Kingdom then to Ireland involved in Tourism and dairy farming. Neville went on to become Chief Executive of Economic Affairs of Maori Affairs Department then Maori Trustee, Director Waitangi Tribunal, Director of Maori Land Court, Whangarei and Hamilton, Economic Development Executive to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Chief Executive of Taranaki Maori Trust Board New Plymouth, Board Member Open Polytechnic NZ , Board Member Correspondence School NZ ,Board Member Te Wananga Aotearoa 30 years still, as Chairman of Te Runanganui O Taranaki Whanui in Lower Hutt- Waiwhetu Marae.

Over 3 years 2013-2016 as The Chairman of Port Nicholson Block Trust and continues to hold a directorship – Neville successfully lead the change management process having to deal with high level trouble shooting and has been fundamental in saving the Trust from collapse. Neville Chairs a Turning of The Tide program working closely with NZ Police keeping people out of the Court system, He also sits as an Iwi Leader on the Police Commissioners Forum. He is the only Iwi Leader on this forum that works for NZ Police with their National Police Work Shops.

Neville presents himself his leadership and skill set on the Chamber’s Board.

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Andy Barker

Owner of Media Giant and IT Company, Cloud Edge

Andy has worked in the IT industry since 2005. His career has covered the full spectrum of IT including helpdesk, trainer and engineer roles. Andy has also been the technical lead for big government organisations, running teams and working on multi-million-dollar IT projects.

Andy owns two Hutt Valley businesses, specialising in the IT, websites and graphic design sectors. Both businesses have grown substantially under Andy’s leadership.

Andy brings the perspective of the newer business community with him at 29 years of age and has the unique ability and proven experience to relate to a far wider audience. Andy heads a dedicated Team who work closely with a large client base from all industry sectors. Andy is proud to put himself forward for the Board of the Chamber.

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Celia Birdling

Registered Financial Adviser and Owner of City Medical Brokers

Celia is the owner/director of City Medical Brokers Ltd and also a Registered Financial Adviser having been in the health insurance industry for 30 years. She has worked with local clients in and around the Hutt Valley for over 20 years. Celia joined the Chamber when she formed her own company 7 years ago, but has been supporting Chamber events for the previous 10 years as a member of Chris MacKay Financial Planning team.

Celia lives with her husband in Upper Hutt north, together they have six children between them, two of which are chartered accountants, one a lawyer, one a nurse, a builder and a mechanic. Celia is delighted to put herself forward to members and be representative on the Chamber’s Board with the passion to add value to the Board and Chamber.

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Mike Gould

Past Partner of Gibson Sheat Lawyers

Mike has been a Chamber Board member for 9 years, and is a past vice-president.

Mike has been a partner in local law firm, Gibson Sheat, since 1987. Gibson Sheat is the largest Wellington regional law practice (outside national firms) and has been proudly Lower Hutt-based since 1923.

Mike has a background in commercial and private client legal work, and currently specialises in employment law. He leads the firm’s Employment Law team. A lot of his work involves advising employers about how best to deal with employees in a range of situations, from disciplinary matters through to the correct process for restructuring and redundancies.

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Hayden Kirk

Owner of IT Company, Layer3

Hayden is the Owner/Director of Layer3 Ltd. Layer3 is a Managed IT and Cloud Provider for businesses Nationwide.

Born and bred in the Hutt Valley, Hayden believes the Hutt Valley is an excellent place to set up business.

Hayden is passionate about IT and was excited to be elected to the Technology Valley Board in May 2016. Hayden has a wealth of knowledge in IT and looks forward to working with members to make the Hutt Valley a thriving hub in the ICT sector.

Hayden has successfully run Layer3 for 12 years and feels he can add real value and knowledge to the Chamber Board.

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Tony McKone

Owner of Employee Relations Company, McKone Consultancy

As the owner of a successful small business, I look forward to having the opportunity to connect businesses, people and the truth as a member of the Board for the Chamber.  I bring nine years of governance experience to the Board, as well as knowledge, skills and experience built up over the last 40 years as a business owner, former senior manager in the public sector and as a senior HR practitioner.  I am a Chartered Fellow of the HR Institute, a Certificate Holder of the Association of Workplace Investigators and hold a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies.

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Jo Miller

Hutt City Council CEO

Jo has held one of the most high profile local government roles in the UK and in 2017 the Local Government Chronicle named her the third most influential person in local government there. Jo joined the Hutt City Council as CEO in 2019.

With an outstanding record for motivating people, creating solutions and brokering agreements in major housing, economic regeneration and capital investment schemes, Jo brings a huge amount of experience to the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce board. She has experience working locally, regionally and nationally in the United Kingdom, in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Jo’s vast experience includes holding the role of Chief Executive of the Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council since 2012, and has spent close to 20 years working in local and regional government organisations.

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June Ranson

Managing Director of Licensed Immigration Advisors, Woburn International

June has lived and worked in a number of overseas countries in a variety of Industries. June established Woburn International Ltd in 1991, which is based in Lower Hutt.

June’s role in Woburn International as well as Managing director, is primarily immigration but June also plays a major role in the cultural awareness side and over the years has enjoyed helping many families to adjust to their new life and their changed circumstances. June has been appointed Board Vice Chairman to NZ Association for Migration and Investment. With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, June has worked with hundreds of other career professionals to help them develop and refine their skills, knowledge and expertise across a wide range of disciplines essential for success in our industry.

June is married to Steve and they have a teenage daughter, Zara. June is an early riser and enjoys heading out most mornings for a walk with her lovely dog Mimi. In June’s spare time she enjoys being the pillion passenger on Steve’s Harley Davidson Motor Bike.