Rotorua Innovation Festival announced

Event Director Darren McGarvie.

Rotorua’s newest business event series will take place at the start of August to help inspire social good and business success.

The Rotorua Innovation Festival Taiopenga Auaha 2019 is a local initiative run in partnership by Firestation, Rotorua Lakes Council, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, and Rotorua X. The hope is for this to become an annual feature in the Rotorua business calendar.

Over four days the festival has three high profile keynote speakers plus dozens of other award winning and inspirational speakers.

Event director Darren McGarvie from Firestation Business Growth Centre says he's looking forward to the festival and thinks it will be an awesome event for the business community.

“In creating the Festival our focus was to bring together a wide range of speakers to share knowledge and showcase award-winning initiatives in both the commercial and social enterprise sector.

“For non-profits some of the sessions include getting sponsorship, running effective boards through to understanding your financial numbers. There is also a Grant Panel Q&A with representatives from the leading grant providers in the Bay of Plenty.

“For the commercial sector we have sessions on angel investment, workplace lighting, launching eco-friendly brands as well as showcasing a tech business success story.

“We are excited about the range of speakers we have, especially our keynote speakers Annah Stretton, Mark Lucas and Tiny Deane.”

Annah Stretton is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading entrepreneurs with her successful fashion label and start-up business in the dog wellness industry. She is also a successful author, blogger, publisher and public speaker.

In additional she has launched a ground-breaking social enterprise RAW (Reclaim Another Woman), for socially disadvantaged women in New Zealand.

Stretton will open the festival with a keynote address sharing her insights to her success. She will also run a clinic talking about how she applied her business nous to set-up her successful social enterprise making a difference to women in prison.

The second keynote speaker is Mark Lucas, CEO and co-founder of Cannasouth, a medical marijuana research company poised for growth. Lucas will share what's happening in this industry, co-founding a company in this ground-breaking industry and listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange.

Closing the festival will be Rotorua’s very own Tiny Deane. Recognised as a champion and solution provider to help reduce homelessness in Rotorua and Taupo, Deane will talk about how he got funded and the difference he is making to some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable.

Seats will be limited at each session. People are encouraged to register early to avoid disappointment.

The festival runs from 5-8 August. For session times and to register go to

More information:

  • The Rotorua Innovation Festival Taiopenga Auaha 2019 has been developed to provide inspiration, knowledge and ideas to:
    • Improve our world with a focus on youth, well-being and the environment
    • Launch & grow enterprises
    • Showcase commercial innovation and success
    • Fund new and existing social enterprises.
  • Firestation is the only Business Growth Centre in the central North Island with programmes and services covering leadership, sales, brand, governance, marketing and business coaching.
  • Rotorua X is a charitable trust with the purpose to connect and inspire Rotorua businesses and social enterprises. Rotorua X holds monthly Connect events and an annual dragon’s den style Pitch Night.




FESTIVAL OPENING: Keynote Speaker Annah Stretton


Empowering Women to Break the Cycle

Annah Stretton, Reclaim Another Woman


Creating life-long connections between tamariki and the environment

Katherine Maud, Tiaki Early Learning


Overcoming Mental Health & Anxiety

Liz Wilson, The Thrive Programme


Environmental challenges and their impact on our lives

Bay of Plenty Regional Council


How to Best Use Your Intellectual Property

Mark Copeland, Mark Copeland Lawyers



Introduction to Social Enterprise

Darren McGarvie from Firestation



Finding Your Motivation (Your Ikigai)

Darren McGarvie from Firestation



Online Marketing Essentials

Rachael McGarvie from Firestation



Effective Boards

Darren McGarvie from Firestation



Developing Your Innovative Edge (Unleashing Innovation)

Darren McGarvie from Firestation



Understanding Your Numbers (Raising Finance & Capital/Tax Basics)

Darren McGarvie from Firestation





To be confirmed


Successfully Raising Angel Investment

Julian So, Enterprise Angels


Lighting up workplace health

Clark Nemeth, Antipodes LED


Launching eco-friendly inspired brands

Melissa Woods, Salt Bags NZ and Woods Brands Innovation


NZ Tech Business Success Story; From Launch to Sale

Hadleigh Ford, SwipedOn


Rotorua X Connect 10th Birthday Event

Mark Lucas, CEO Cannasouth
VENUE: Regent of Rotorua



Grant Panel Q&A

Representatives of key Rotorua Grant organisations


Successful Sponsorship Pitches

Rachael McGarvie, Firestation


To be confirmed



Keynote Speaker: Tiny Deane, Visions of a Helping Hand

You may also like...


There are no comments on this article.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now