Bay of Plenty businesses invest, expand and thrive post lockdown

May 4, 2021

Bay of Plenty businesses invest, expand and thrive post lockdown

Covid-19 tugged, yanked, pushed, pulled and tested Bay businesses’ ability to survive. Since the March 2020 lockdown, it has been survival of the fittest. Zoe Hunter speaks to businesses that have not only survived but thrived.

Te Arawa Fisheries is thriving amid the global pandemic and is now eyeing a business venture that could create up to 1000 jobs.

The Māori-led organisation posted a $1 million increase in total revenue post-lockdown and is developing new business opportunities to establish itself as an important player in the fisheries sector.

The 2020 Te Arawa Fisheries Annual Report, shared with members this month, highlighted the organisation’s business strategy and positive financial position.

While Covid-19 had an impact on Te Arawa Fisheries’ retail operation, the organisation was able to retain all its frontline staff and still delivered a net surplus of $591,000, nearly 30 per cent up on the previous year.

Te Arawa Fisheries achieved total revenue of $4.5m in 2020, up more than 20 per cent on 2019.

Chief executive Chris Karamea Insley said a lot of hard work went into achieving a positive result despite the lockdowns.

“We needed to do things differently … We have to change in order to survive and sustain our operation and our assets.”

Insley said they moved from a passive strategy to a more active and assertive one.

“That was a massive call to make: becoming active means you’ve got to take charge of everything you’re doing.”

That mahi is aligned with the organisation’s new business strategy – Ka pu te ruha ka hao te rangatahi (The old net is cast aside and the new net goes fishing).

“In practical terms, this means identifying and developing new markets and products to move up the value chain and mitigate our operation from increasing risks.

“It’s also about working smarter, using the technology and expertise that we have at our fingertips to enhance our operations, while at the same time ensuring we are steadily decreasing our carbon emissions.”

Insley said partnering with the “smart people” including scientists, researchers, technologists at universities and crown research institutes had been instrumental in its more active strategy.

“We are now partnered with about a dozen leading institutes across New Zealand.”

The organisation partnered with the University of Otago’s food and nutrition team to research how to turn fish waste into high-value snack foods for international markets, Insley said.

It has also entered into a new joint-venture with Future Cuisine and has invested in new technology installed at a Mount Maunganui facility to produce smoked and flavoured mussels, he said.

“Within a month we will push this product out under our new Māori brand called Hī! (as in the haka).”

Insley said the organisation had also been working on a large-scale aquaculture development with all Bay of Plenty iwi.

He expected the project would create about 1000 new jobs.

The business had spent the past year researching aquaculture that would suit conditions in the Bay of Plenty and had shortlisted six species.

Over the next six to eight months they would develop an investment-ready business case to present to iwi.

“It’s about partnering with the right people, at the right time, to secure even better outcomes for our business, our people and our whānau.”

Read the Bay of Plenty Times article here.

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