Wellington Scoop

Chris Whelan resigns from WREDA, “a disappointment,” says CofC

Press Release – Wellington Chamber Of Commerce
The resignation of WREDA Chief Executive Chris Whelan will be a disappointment to those who had pinned high hopes for the region on him and the new organisation, says Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford.

“Chris deserves our thanks for the job he’s done in bringing three disparate organisations together to form Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency. It was a difficult job, and I know he worked very hard to make it happen.

“He arrived with a proven track record after heading the organisation that put Cape Town on the map as one of the world’s most liveable cities, and it’s a shame he’s going without seeing WREDA reach its potential.

“We are pleased that Chris will be staying on as an advisor in the interim to ensure the smooth transition. The Chamber welcomes Derek Fry as interim CEO and looks forward to working with him as WREDA plans its next moves.”

News from WREDA
WREDA Chief Executive Chris Whelan has decided to leave the role and stay on as an advisor to the organisation.

Mr Whelan was appointed to lead the newly-created WREDA in 2015, bringing together the economic development functions of Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council along with Grow Wellington, Positively Wellington Tourism and Positively Wellington Venues.

WREDA Chair Peter Biggs says Mr Whelan has done a great job bringing together five strong organisations and getting WREDA up and running.

“The new advisory position means we can take advantage of Chris’ experience analysing global trends and emerging opportunities while a replacement Chief Executive is found. Wellington has many advantages and WREDA is about using those to drive growth and development.”

Chris Whelan says he’s proud of what WREDA has achieved in a relatively short time under his leadership.

“The successful ‘LookSee Wellington’ campaign to attract top tech talent to the region has been a highlight. During the last two years, the region’s also seen annual visitor spending increase by nearly $300M to $2.36B. Our Major Events programme brings over $80M a year into the region, with Venues generating about $55M from performance and business events.

“Wellington has a buoyant economy, a distinct identity, a booming tech and knowledge sector and record visitor numbers – now WREDA’s well positioned to significantly lift the region’s performance.

“The changes have made us economically stronger and more resilient which will benefit everyone in the Wellington region,” says Mr Whelan. “I’m passionate about the Wellington region and this advisory role enables me to assist WREDA with my skills and expertise in strategy, business transformation and governance.”

Mr Biggs says the city and the Wellington region are well positioned for the future.

“We’ve seen employers such as Concentrix choosing Wellington as its base for expansion which will bring with it up to 300 jobs. In addition, the city’s planning is well advanced for the convention centre and movie museum, and film and screen continues to be a Wellington success story contributing $728M to the region in the last financial year.

“The Wellington region has many economic advantages, and we have in WREDA an organisation that is well-placed to exploit those advantages and achieve a step change in economic performance. The achievements to date speak for themselves.

“Wellington’s an exciting and vibrant place with enormous potential and Chris has helped position WREDA to deliver results nationally and internationally. Chris can take a lot of credit for WREDA’s achievements and the Board and I want to thank him for his work and his contribution.”

Derek Fry, Director City Growth and Partnerships at Wellington City Council, will be interim Chief Executive during the search for a replacement.


  1. Mark Shanks, 26. May 2017, 10:15

    It would be good to hear Chis Whelan’s views on why he thinks WREDA did not perform as well as expected during his term. If we don’t learn from his experience then I wonder if we can ever expect WREDA to reach its potential.

  2. Traveller, 26. May 2017, 19:25

    If he has done “a great job,” to use the words of Peter Biggs, then why is Chris Whelan resigning? The WREDA announcement insultingly fails to explain anything about the chief executive’s departure.