What We Do

Established in 1993 as The Nelson Tasman Business Trust, a non-profit organization supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes across the Nelson Tasman region. Now known as Business Assist, we continue to provide free assistance and advice for local businesses to thrive.

How We Support You

  • Free consultations
  • Business networking events
  • Free or low-cost training seminars
  • Match mentors to your business needs through BMNZ
  • Support Flexi-Wage applicants through MSD
  • Provide business resources and referrals

What We Achieve

Each year through NTBT:

  • 75+ businesses are matched to a mentor
  • 300+ businesses receive a free and confidential consultation
  • 570+ business owners attend training and networking meetings
  • 530+ referrals to access further support
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions are made to the local economy


Whether you are an entrepreneur with an idea, a start-up or well-established business or community group, Business Assist can support your business.

Meet Our Team

Gael Gordon



03 539 0824

022 679 8717

Gina Munro

Mentor Manager


03 539 0824

Bea Pole-Bokor

Marketing & Events Manager


03 539 0824

Meet Our Board

Robert Panzer


Robert has a 33-year background as a tourism operator, starting from scratch and building a successful niche business. As a business mentor since 2007, he came on the board in July 2021 and was ‘elevated’ to chairman in March 2022, overseeing a raft of changes and challenges to the NTBT organization; new staff, new name and global (and local) challenges. Working on a positive future for the trust assisting our Nelson Tasman business community.


Sacha MacDonald

Deputy Chair

Sacha MacDonald of Ngā Puhi, Ngati Ruanui, NgāRuahine and European decent has over 20 years experience in business management, human resources, capability development and management accounting.

Frequently called upon for organisational capability, recruitment and human capital development projects. Sacha’s skills align well to serving Business Assist and the community it supports.


Tom Maling

Board Member

Tom has over 10 years of experience as a Chartered Accountant across several industries and roles. He spent 9 years in Auckland in roles at KPMG, Westpac and a local Manuka Honey exporter.

Tom has moved back to his hometown of Nelson, taking on a position as a Director at Brown & Associates Accounting Group where he advises small to medium size businesses.


Matthew Benge

Nelson City Council Representative 

Nigel Teal

Board Member

A loyal advocate of Nelson Tasman Business Trust and now Business Assist for 20 years, Nigel joined the Board of Trustees in 2019. A seasoned voluntary business mentor and Regional Business Partner service provider for management and business capability, Nigel supports community boards and private sector organisations to achieve their quest for long-term viability. 

Lucy Byrne

Board Member

After recently moving to Nelson from Auckland, Lucy started her own business as the Director and Sustainability Advisor at Bluemoth. She is passionate about protecting the environment and working with small to medium businesses. Alongside this, she is the Community Manager at the Mahitahi Colab. When Lucy isn’t thinking about climate action, you’ll find her hiking off the beaten track.


Derek Williams

Board Member

With over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, Derek specialises in implementing digital solutions while also leading impacted staff to adapt to and adopt digital change.

Some years ago, he set up a business with his wife making hand-made ceramic tiles. The eventual failure of that business motivated him to become a Business Mentor, specialising in making startup businesses more successful. To support an even wider community, he recently established a startup support and guidance website, sharing his knowledge and expertise.


Kit Maling 

Tasman District Council Representative, Board Trustee

Kit is a Tasman District Councillor in his 4th term. He has been on NTBT since 2011 and firstly as a council TDC Rep and later as a Trustee.

With 25 years in New Zealand Police, he rose rank of Inspector level 2 and in his last posting he was in charge of advanced training at the Royal New Zealand Police College.

Kit has done 12 years orcharding on Waimea Plains on his own Orchard and then as Production Manager for Hoddys.

At the beginning of his Council career he also worked part time for Probation service.

Kit is qualified as a Hearings Commissioner under the RMA to hear resource consents and plan changes.

Amy O'Malley

Board Member

Sponsors & Supporters