David A. Wilson is a social entrepreneur, committed enviromentalist, and Founder and Director of Heritage Futures International. During the past thirty-five year’s he has worked at senior diplomatic levels in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Somalia, Kenya, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and India enabling communities to identify, protect, preserve, manage and utilise their heritage assets to revitalise and transform their neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and regions while enhancing their cultural, social, environmental, economic and political futures.

David has a background as a youth and community worker, public servant senior field worker, lecturer, expeditioner, history re-enactor, and heritage enterprise entrepreneur. His employment has included fifteen years within the New Zealand Government as a national negotiator coordinating Crown partnership funding and programs in community development, business and town centre revitalisation, traditional customs and trades revival, historic town restoration, and heritage asset development for tourism.

David strongly advocates that raising awareness of heritage helps the cultures of the world gain a better understanding and acceptance of each other’s differences, and works to ensure heritage is a vibrant and beneficial part of the present and future. He specialises in two fields: authentic heritage project design, fundraising, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; facilitating transparent, community-based, participatory consultation processes. These processes bring diverse groups, non-government organizations, Indigenous peoples, business, the tourism industry, private investors, municipal, provincial and federal governments, villages, towns and regions together and promote ‘bottom-up’ rather than ‘top-down’ critical dialogue and actions that build consensus and meet the needs of a particular community.

Born and educated in New Zealand with Scottish ancestry dating back to early 1700, David operates with the unwavering belief that creativity will forever be the spark that ignites communities, creates livelihoods, and brings individuals, culture and politics together. He is a pragmatic visionary who looks for cut through ideas, prefers bridges to borders, operates with zeal and courage, rejects stale, lazy, and traditional thinking, will not allow history to become a deafening silence, and has a persistent determination that allows him to break away from constraints imposed by ideology or conventional practices. He is passionate about bringing history alive, preserving memory, creating shared vision and respecting individual expression, enjoys new invention and a different approach, and has a healthy impatience where he cannot sit back and wait for change to happen, but enjoys being a change driver.

David’s professional involvement has included:

• Facilitator - Victorian Precinct. Restoration and repurposing Oamaru’s dilapidated 19th century business precinct & harbour. New Zealand.

• Facilitator - Business Expansion & Retention (BEAR) Programme, New Zealand.

• Heritage Facilitator - Assistance restoring buildings, sites, ecosystems, trains, vehicles, planes, maritime vessels, and bicycles. 1985 to present day.

• Project Advisor - Whanganui 1900’s Riverboat Salvage, Restoration, Recommissioning, and Museum Establishment, New Zealand (NZ).

• Chairperson New Zealand Heritage Trails Foundation - Networking communities and heritage assets in association with the NZ Tourism Industry.

• Chairperson The Great New Zealand Maritime Heritage Trail - Networking and Marketing 250 maritime heritage sites within one national trail.

• Chairperson 1000 COMMUNITIES - Community heritage tourism development in rural communities in association with the NZ Tourism Industry.

• Chairperson New Zealand Horse and Carriage Board. Providing Victorian-era carriage rides, working stables and blacksmith as tourism experiences.

• National Coordinator - New Zealand Heritage Alive - Enhancing Historic Site Interpretations through ‘Living History’ programs and re-enactments.

• National Coordinator - New Zealand MAINSTREET & New Zealand OUR TOWN CBD (Central Business District) Revitalisation Programs.

• National Coordinator - Asset Based Community Driven (ABCD) Development, New Zealand.

• Board Director - Asset Based Community Driven (ABCD) Development, Asia-Pacific.

• Presenter - ‘Future Communities’ - Positioning NZ community leaders for the changing nature of work & global economy impacts.

• Presenter - ‘Life in The Past Lane’ - Enabling community transformation through heritage asset use. Australia / South Africa / Malaysia / UAE.

• Project Director - New Zealand Museum of Social Security establishment.

• Project Director - Oamaru 1880’s Penny Farthing Revival. Construction, racing, and riding as unique cultural tourism experience and attraction.

• Co Facilitator - Somalia Youth Policy Development. Convenor - Somalia Youth Enterprise & Development Conference.

• Consultant - Heritage Trail Establishment - Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, India.

• Consultant - ‘Te Hā 1769 Sestercentennial Event’, Gisborne, 2019. Initial scoping. 250 years since first meetings of Maori & European in NZ.

• Consultant - ‘Lunatic Express’ Heritage Tourism Railway Initiative. Initial scoping, Nairobi - Mombasa, Kenya.

• Consultant - Delma Island (Arabian Sea) Archaeological, heritage tourism and town centre revitalisation plan. United Arab Emirates.

• Consultant - Roebourne Law & Order Precinct Redevelopment - Fostering reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. W. Australia.

• Consultant - Historic Town & Village Restoration & Revitalisation - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates.

• Conference Keynote and Seminar Presenter - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Somalia, Kenya, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and India.

In 2012, a statue of David riding a penny farthing bicycle was erected by his home town community of Oamaru recognizing his services since 1985 in assisting the town restore and repurpose its 19th century business precinct and harbour, and for becoming the first and only wheelman in the nation’s history to peddle a penny farthing bicycle, solo, the entire length of New Zealand over a 52-day period. 

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