Innovation and redesign revolutionising Southland

Big thinking and bold strategies are shaping numerous rejuvenation projects currently underway within Invercargill, injecting new life and revolutionising the city, making Southland the leading region in innovation and redesign.

One key player in reshaping Southland’s future is Southland Just Transition; Southland Just Transition is a region wide strategy to help Southland lead its own planning and to ensure sustainable diversification of industry, wellness of community and to secure a prosperous future for the region.

The Southland Just Transition work is being supported and driven by Iwi, government, unions, education, Southland Business Chamber, Coin South, Councils, Great South and the Murihiku community.

With or without Tiwai, the group’s agenda is to secure the future of the region, to keep it buoyant, introduce more skilled jobs, lower carbon, diversify land and water use, and look to productive clean energy usage. 

Invercargill is on track to become a highly desirable city to visit and settle down in, and as key projects for the greater benefit of the region are presented, Southland will continue to look to government for on-going support.

Deliberate and collective design of the region, industries and communities were born from The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS). From this, large scale projects and initiatives will be shaping what Southland will look like.

Industry extension and diversification for Southland has been a key focus to secure the region’s future, and as innovation and new methods for cleaner more efficient operation for many industries have been developed, the Aquaculture sector has been pegged as an industry that can be significantly upscaled to be a substantial economic contributor to Southland and to become the leading region for New Zealand’s Open Ocean Aquaculture Industry.


The highly anticipated inner-city redevelopment, two brand new hotels, eateries, retail outlets and New Zealand’s first Tier 4 data centre, will all contribute to the transformation of the region.

The CBD redevelopment will have a variety of retailers, a fantastic food court with up to five restaurants on the second floor, access to Invercargill’s cinema, and a large new car park with approximately 670 spaces.

Just Transition’s Enduring Oversite Group (EOG) Chair, Neil McAra commented what an exciting time it was for such a transitional phase for the region’s industries and economies.

“It’s wonderful to have so much enthusiasm about the future of Southland and it’s great to be well supported by government and government resources,” he said.

EOG Co-Chair, Aimee Kaio added Southland Just Transition was key to unlocking the region’s economic and environmental potential.  

Digital access and connectivity are seen as vital to Southland’s development. Presently, the region is being mapped to ensure cell phone coverage is consistent throughout the region.

An exciting new industry will soon be home to Southland with two multi-million-dollar data centres being constructed in the region.

Datagrid New Zealand Limited has had Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval to build the centre at a 43-hectare site at Makarewa, about 12 kilometres north of Invercargill.

Invercargill-based T4 Group is a Kiwi-owned data centre contender that has arrived with plans to build New Zealand’s first tier 4 data centre located in Southland.

The ‘green’ data centre will use modular design and rely on the region’s hydropower generation. It would also use the naturally cool air of the region to reduce the need for powered cooling systems and extract warm air to be used by a large local business.

The initiative was not only beneficial for the industry itself, but for the future of the Southland community, as specialist training facilities are being discussed, bringing potential educational opportunities to Southland attracting international students.

There is a sense of excitement about Southland and the future of the region; the Just Transition work groups are in the planning stages to identify what projects will offer the most value for Southland.


The project groups are made up of seven work streams led by community leaders. These streams include Long Term Planning, Clean Energy, Worker Transition, Business Transition, Land Use, Community Capability Building and Aquaculture.

As the physical landscape of the inner-city changes, the bold plans to reshape Southland’s future is being crafted to not only secure the new direction the region is heading in, but to ease reliance on some industries.

The plan is a bold transition of Southland, and the future looks bright.