Rotorua Talent Incubator

We're looking for talented staff and business mentors to participate in a new Rotorua Talent Incubator.

RotoruaNZ has developed a Talent Incubator to help businesses recognise, support and develop their key talent. Benefits will be threefold: to help employees contribute more meaningfully to the business they’re employed by; to gain personal development for the betterment of their future; and to bring more professional value to Rotorua.

This programme will run in the first half of 2023 (excluding school holidays). A key consideration in the timeline is the $42m tourism innovation fund whereby we are testing a concept to build a business case for the Aotearoa Tourism and Hospitality Innovation Hub. An application will be submitted for Rotorua.


Talented staff needed

We know that there are some incredible young managers working in our sector and we want to invest in them and collectively develop the next generation of senior leaders. The Talent Incubator will also enable us to trial, test and develop innovation capability.

We’re looking for individuals who might be in a middle management role or above with aspirations working in activities, attractions, hospitality, accommodation, retail, information centres or events who would like to develop innovation capability and ultimately lead and shape the Rotorua visitor industry for years to come.

Approximately 20 hours per month will be required. There will be structured meetings that will be scheduled in advance, normally Monday through Wednesday during design sprint and project phases.

Applications are open now.


Looking for mentors

Senior leaders, preferably with 10+ years in senior management roles, we’d love to have you on board in this paid role as valued industry experts who can provide insights to business management, learnings, assessing opportunities, managing yield, event execution, leadership, human resources and more.


Time commitments will be approximately 1-2 hours per month. There will be more information on this late February to early March. Your expression of interest doesn’t mean you need to commit now.

If you’re interested in a mentorship role, please express your interest here.

Q&A session

Please join us for an online project overview and Q&A session for both employers and potential participants hosted by Melissa Craig, RotoruaNZ destination manager, and Tash McGill, Talent Incubator facilitator.


Register here to attend this session and we’ll send you a link to join the meeting.


When: 10.30 - 11.00am, 8 February 2023


Timeline of Phase One

23 January: Recruitment launch and applications can be received between now and 17 February

8 February: 10.30am online information session with Q&A

17 February: 5.00pm applications close

20 February: Applications reviewed, shortlisted and interviewed

1 March:  Successful applicants announced

14 March: Candidates will participate in first design sprint and project preparation workshop

April - May: Programme underway

9 June: Phase One finishes

June: Stream Two commences where RotoruaNZ will take the learnings from the Talent Incubator to develop a business case to submit for Tourism Innovation Funding

More details  

What can an individual gain?

  • Phase One: Learn how to start a business, develop an idea to execution, or develop a product or event from nothing and to be able to build a business case using the following steps:
    • Design and prototype projects to test innovation skill development
    • Complete peer-led innovation skills coaching
    • Implement innovation and iteration skills in business and projects
    • Coach and lead innovation projects in their own contexts
    • Apply robust performance metrics reflection and assessment
  • You will receive a personal career and development plan and what next steps to consider
  • You will gain greater connectivity locally and nationally within the tourism and hospitality sectors


  • Phase Two: Opportunity to participate in advanced learning (e.g., Icehouse leadership development)

Applicants must:

  • Have a letter of support from your employer and they must commit to allowing you the time;
  • Be working in and committed to the sector you are in;
  • Be a permanent full-time employee;
  • Demonstrate the values of the destination;
  • Be tangata whenua or permanent resident of New Zealand; and
  • Submit a video application.

Employers with a staff member participating are expected to:

  • Ensure that the staff member/s commits to the six-month process;
  • Release the staff member/s to participate in one-on-one coaching, design sprints, reporting and group work as required;
  • Ensure that your staff member/s will be compensated at their normal rate of pay during the time they are out of office;
  • Share the good story of having staff member/s on this programme; and
  • Be willing to participate in a post-incubator feedback/review session of outcomes and improvements.

Benefits employers will gain:

  • Staff member/s with capability in leadership, innovation, strategic planning and execution;
  • Staff member/s having a clear career path and receiving external mentoring to assist them in their day-to-day work life;
  • Staff member/s who better understand where your business fits within the tourism ecosystem and how they can influence positive change; and
  • Greater connectively for your business across the industry.

Applications are open now

All participants must submit a video that is a minimum of one minute long and no longer than five minutes of why you’d like to be considered.


The video should showcase who you are and what you’d like to achieve. So think about what you’d like us to know, such as:

  • Your whakapapa
  • What you’re doing now and how you got there
  • What your vision for Rotorua is
  • “I have this great idea and I’d like to work on it with a cool group of people”
  • “I want to be the CEO of Tourism New Zealand and this will help me refine my pathway to get there”
  • “I’m going to be Rotorua’s next Bruce Thomasen [owner of Redwoods Treewalk]. How might I get there?”

There is no limit to the number of people per organization that can apply or be put forward.


As a business, you’ll need to be prepared to possibly have multiple staff out at the same time if more than one applicant is successful.


Individuals will need to have a support letter from their employer.

Apply here.


Applicant assessment criteria

  • Current role within the organisation
  • Length of time with the company
  • Any formal qualifications
  • Career aspirations of the individual, along with internal support/development opportunities being offered by the employer
  • Local or national networks they belong to
  • Demonstrate the values of the Destination Management Plan

Assessment panel

  • Tash McGill, project facilitator and independent contractor
  • Bronwyn Alton, senior academic staff member at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, and Destination Advisory Group
  • Rawiri Waru, chair of Te Tatau o Te Arawa, and Destination Advisory Group
  • Observer: Melissa Craig, destination manager (no voting rights)


How will a business pay for staff time out of the office?

Participants’ time will be funded up to 40 hours at a fixed hourly rate (determined by RotoruaNZ) over the duration of the programme to compensate for their time away.


Over and above this, it is expected that the employer will contribute to the development of their staff member/s via covering their wages/salary as per usual. Ultimately this is up to the employer and employee to negotiate.


Businesses will invoice RotoruaNZ for payment and a purchase order will be generated.