Hapu boost for Food Hub

By Doug Laing

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IN AGREEMENT: Tom Manaaena and Trevor Taylor.
IN AGREEMENT: Tom Manaaena and Trevor Taylor.

A sign of the potential of iwi development in Hawke's Bay's economic future has come with an announcement post treaty settlement group Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust has acquired a quarter-share of the company which owns the Tomoana Food Hub.

The investment by the Tangoio-based group of six hapu, which settled with the Crown in 2014, was revealed in a statement yesterday , the trust's business arm taking a 25 per cent share of Elwood Road Holdings Limited, which trades as the Tomoana Food Hub in a close partnership with the Tomoana Investments Ltd, majority- owned by hub developers the Taylor whānau.

Operating on a 22.5ha site of which 10ha is already developed off Elwood Rd and just west of the Hawke's Bay railway line, the hub houses Jamestrong Packaging Ltd providing can manufacturing for Kraft Heinz Wattie's, Miracle Water Ltd exporting freshwater to China, and Tomoana Warehousing Ltd, which provides logistical services to the food and beverage industries of Hawke's Bay and the Bay of Plenty.

The remaining, yet-to-be-developed 12ha is zoned for food processing activities and commercial interest in the site is strong.

Food Hub founder and company chairman Trevor Taylor said he's pleased with the partnership and the equity investment which will facilitate a more rapid expansion of the Hub for the benefit of Hawke's Bay.Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust chairman Tom Manaena, a Board director on the Hub, said he is "delighted" that expansion of the Hub will materially benefit the Hapū and Hawke's Bay, with tenant companies expanding the number of jobs available in the fast growing food and beverage industry and associated support industries, along with a forecast financial performance of the Hub that exceeds the Trust's investment hurdle rate.

Business arm Maungaharuru-Tangitu Ltd chairman Dr Andrew West believes that with some limited financial assistance from central, regional and local government the Tomoana Food Hub will become the equivalent of the Waikato Innovation Park, which opened in 2004 on 17ha of Tainui-owned land in Hamilton with some limited financial assistance from Central, Regional and Local Government.

He said the opportunity to accelerate the sophistication of the food and beverage export industries of Hawke's Bay and the associated agritechnology export industries is "truly remarkable" and an example of the intent of Hawke's Bay's Matariki Regional Economic Development Strategy.

The Crown's settlement with Maungaharuru-Tangitu, signed in 2013 and enacted after a late-night third reading in Parliament provided a financial and commercial redress package worth $23 million along with the vesting, and vesting and giftback, of culturally significant sites, establishment of a fund for the purpose of soil conservation in the Tangoio area, and a partnership agreement (Te Kawenata) with the Minister and Department of Conservation.

The commercial redress properties included in the settlement were the 2500ha Opouahi Station, leased by Landcorp as a sheep and beef farm, and part of Esk Forest, leased by Panpac Forest Products Limited.Ngati Kahungunu iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said the iwi had been invited to be a part of the project, and could have been but for the timing, with NKII investments tied, mainly in the fishing industry.

He applauded the Maungaharuru-Tangitu step as particularly appropriate with the region renowned as "the fruit bowl of New Zealand, the market garden of Asia, and the most fertile place on the planet."

The investment would be one of many partnerships developed between hapu, iwi and other business in the area. "Absolutely," he said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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