NAHC is leading the development of the sustainability focused hitech hydroponics berryfruit operation in the Ngawha Enterprise and Innovation Park, just outside Kaikohe.
Partnering with award winning Maungatapere Berries and Far North Holdings the new venture will develop a 28 hectare site. The partnership will grow soft berries, mostly raspberries and blackberries starting with 10 hectares of hydroponic tunnel houses. Packing and cool-store facilities will be built on site and the enterprise is expected to provide good-quality, well-paid work for between 120 and 160 local people each year including about 80 full-time positions.
NAHC is the majority shareholder within the berryfruit operation which will achieve its first crop around October this year, with the site being future proofed to enable a further 9ha of tunnel houses within the coming years.
NAHC chief executive Paul Knight says this is a highly strategic regional partnership that is developing one of the largest soft berryfruit growing operations in New Zealand. “The venture is forecasted to increase local business activity by $34m per annum and will become one of the largest employers in the region, providing attractive and well paid jobs that are in easy reach of our community.”
Mr Knight said the venture provided a step-change opportunity for the Kaikohe community and Ngāpuhi, and that enabling this type of development is at the heart of what NAHC has sought to achieve. “It’s not just jobs for Ngāpuhi but transformational change for Kaikohe. This is exactly the kind of collaboration NAHC has been looking for; it brings diversity to Ngāpuhi’s investments and will help Ngāpuhi to set our own destiny,” he said.
Ngāpuhi’s investments have traditionally been in fishery.
Patrick Malley says the new enterprise will take all the raspberry and blackberry operations from Maungatapere Berries and focus them into a highly productive, premium site in the great growing region of Kaikohe, while also providing work opportunities for local people.
The Malleys are equally enthusiastic to have partnered with Ngāpuhi. “We thought it was very important to have local iwi involved and invested in this business opportunity. We’re grateful that we were able to get Paul’s support on behalf of NAHC as they are a key stakeholder,” said Patrick.
On Tuesday 2 March, 26 successful job applicants will sign employment contracts at TRAION offices with their soon-to-be employer Kaikohe Berryfruit Limited and a team from Ministry of Social Development.
The enterprise’s workforce is expected to grow to about 80 fulltime roles in the next six to 12 months, with an additional 120 casual and part time workers across the harvest season. The employment opportunities will range from pickers through to managers, across the entire operation.
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