NZSDA 2019 Conference and Awards

New NZSDA President letting it all hang out

Annual Check and Review


The NZSDA (New Zealand Sign & Display Association) Conference was held in Tauranga 13-14 June 2019 with a very strong turn out from members from all around the country. We were there both as an Elite Sponsor but also from out of our very strong desire to see a growth in the wider industry.

The President (Paul Walters, Identity Signs, Christchurch) said how pleased he was to see the AGM so full extra chairs had to be brought in. The AGM was a mixture of reviewing major events of the last year (minutes last meeting and the financial accounts) but it was very exciting to hear the new stuff that is planned going forward.

Paul has a strong interest in the return of brush skills to the sign writing industry and you can see the interview he did on a very cool project on Seven Sharp here: Paul’s 7 Sharp Interview


Support from being part of a network

As a relative newcomer to the industry and Association I was extremely impressed by how friendly and supportive everyone was that was there. Well over half of the industry is comprised by either sole traders or family owned businesses employing a few staff (fairly typical of most New Zealand business industries actually).

It can be a lonely place working alone and making all the decisions by yourself. There is huge value in being part of a wider group (like the Dairy Industry is with the Fonterra and Farm Source co-ops are). Even if you don’t have any problems in your business, who can you share the wins with?

I would say the gender split was fairly 50/50 and even the age range was tending to be more in the 30-40s than the older folk considering retiring. This of course makes the Sign Industry perfect for anyone looking for a career path and a good level of support as they grow.

There was a great chance to catch up with everyone at an informal ‘mix ‘n mingle’ on the first night – though someone might want to tell Nick & Maria from Clarkson Signs, Christchurch that people might be able to mingle with them easier if they actually didn’t  have their whole face covered dressed up as a ghost?

And of course we have a serious side to our industry – can you can tell with Donald Trump visiting us, and Pablo Escobar stopping by with a bit of product for sale.


Blowing the cobwebs out on a BloKart

Digital Signs sponsored the Blokart (another inspiring Kiwi success story) event on the Friday. The wind was only around 5 knots (and the karts operate best from 8 knots) so we ended up on the new Drift Trikes at Bay Station Park.

Andy Lowe (current Vice President), Image Creators, Nelson is all set to be the next President of the NZSDA (he’s the one doing the beautiful sideways drift on Kart 2 in the photos) was having a great time.

There was an “all girls” race at one stage – of course that went extremely well (what?!) – it is a true fact they spent half of their time going in one direction then the other half going in exactly the opposite direction.


Rewarding Excellence

Saturday night was the Awards Evening. This was the first time that the entire entry and judging process was entirely digital (sign of the times?) with the entries into the different categories being displays on large 65” televisions up high for everyone to see scrolling through in vibrant colour.

We were very pleased to be handing out awards to the successful entrants in the “Corporate Brand – Interpretation & Delivery” section. A very big congratulations to Horton Signs, for their Bronze Award, Falcon Signs, for their Silver Award, and of course South Island Screen Printers, Nelson for their Gold Award!

A very special congratulations to all the other winners (click on the Awards Evening link to view them all) and a special recognition to all the good work being done by teams at The Sign Shop, Nelson and Signtech the Signmasters, Christchurch for winning a massive 13 of the 58 available awards.


Signee programme

Something announced and explained at the conference was the Signee training programme, both as a 10 week pre-entry “introduction” to the industry as well as the ongoing training pillars for those on an apprenticeship wanting to train across all aspects of the industry (design, application and installation) if their current employer does not specialise in some parts.

We strongly encourage this programme as both a way of showing the very large opportunities for artistic, through commercial to trade skills but also for what it does to provide a valid career path opportunity for those at school and looking for a rewarding career as they go out into the workforce.

Very few people appreciate the Sign Writing Industry starts from creative, brand, marketing and helping customers get their message out there, right the way though colours, shapes and design and bringing those to life in shops, offices, outdoors and public spaces. Even the large sign you see concreted into the ground got put there by a sign writer!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Sign Writing Industry please contact Melissa Coutts, 0800 0800 52 or


NZSDA Awards Dinner Evening 2019


Digital Displays of Entries into the NZSDA Awards

Clarkson Signs dress up

And we want people to take the Sign Writing Industry seriously


Fake it until you make it

Digital Signs sponsored Blokards and Drifting Carts

Fine Signs Bronze Award

Falcon Signs Silver Award

South Island Screen Printers Gold Aware