Steve Ellingford - Centre Manager, Bayfair Shopping Centre

Profile photo of Steve Ellingford"As you begin to work on environmental issues and sustainable business, you realise everything is connected – businesses, communities, and people. Because of that, Bayfair is becoming more and more focused on creating businesses, communities, and spaces that are interlinked and fully inclusive. We came to understand that accessibility is not just needed by the 25% of the population experiencing disability, it is needed by all of us at some stage in our lives."


Steve Ellingford, a member of our Fab 50 network, and the team at Bayfair Shopping Centre have received countless awards for their commitment to social change. We are delighted to work alongside them to support their access leadership!

In April 2015, our Be. Welcome team assessed Bayfair and awarded the shopping centre a Silver accessibility rating. But just six months later we upgraded their rating to Platinum – a leap of two levels in our Be. Welcome certification system! This extraordinary achievement reflects Steve and the team's desire to demonstrate leadership in the retail sector. Their energy and hard work in rapidly implementing our recommendations saw them become the first shopping centre in the country to reach a Platinum accessibility standard.

Since then, Bayfair has created a number of innovative events for Autism Awareness Month. Sensory Skating saw the Centre offer early morning ice-skating sessions for children with sensory processing access needs. The controlled environment eliminated busy crowds, bright lights, and loud sounds. And the Centre's annual Young Innovator Awards offered sensory bookings for young creatives who needed a quiet space.

This approach is part of an ongoing strategy to create inclusive experiences for those on the Autism spectrum. Every Wednesday, Bayfair offers a sensory morning, which involves turning off the centre's audio and keeping the automatic doors open. And, in the lead up to Christmas, the shopping centre holds private Santa photo sessions for children with sensory, intellectual, or cognitive access needs. These exclusive sessions are held in the mornings before most of the Centre's stores open. With no queues, no crowds, no music, and an understanding Santa, the sessions avoid overpowering the senses.

Steve and the Centre are acting as naming sponsors for the Bayfair Festival of Disability Games in Tauranga this year – the first of its kind in New Zealand. The two-day festival, run by Parafed, will feature athletes from around New Zealand in wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, boccia and blind sports competitions.

In November 2017, Bayfair Shopping Centre took out the 'Hardwired for Social Good' award at the Sustainable Business Network awards. This award is presented to an organisation that is deliberately and consistently improving people's lives through its day to day business practices – integrating social good throughout their entire business. And, in December 2017, we were delighted to hear Bayfair had won the Accessible & Inclusive Business category at the inaugural 2016 Tauranga City Accessibility Awards. This honour recognises the Centre's willingness to embrace diversity, and ensure their physical environment is accessible to all.

Due to Bayfair's successes, the centre is currently undergoing plans for a $115 million upgrade including 50 new shops. The 30-year-old shopping centre, owned by AMP Capital, will grow by a third, with another 9000 square meters of floor space, taking the total size of the Centre to 42,000 square meters. The new additions to the centre will follow the accessible and sustainable route that Bayfair has worked so hard to build including additions such as a quiet room, more Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, bike storage, and shower facilities for staff.

Our CEO, Minnie, explains why Steve's Fab 50 leadership is so powerful…

"Steve and the team are modelling authentic corporate citizenship, they really understand what it means to be a caring business in the local community. Their incredible efforts ensure that each and every person visiting the Bayfair Shopping Centre is offered a beautifully welcoming and inclusive experience. Additionally, the centre's support of disability sector organisations and events is forming powerful connections amongst the Tauranga community. Steve's creative approach to accessibility is an example for us all!"

Minnie Baragwanath - CEO, Be. Accessible