About 230 jobs may be created after Tauranga investment in an Ōpōtiki mussel processing factory.
The Purpose Capital Impact Fund, created by a number of Tauranga organisations, announced its inaugural investment in the country's first deep-water aquaculture project off the coast of Ōpōtiki.
The fund was established last year and attracted a number of high-profile investors.
As a result of the investment, Whakatōhea Mussels Limited now had enough funding to expand its blue water mussel farm and build a mussel processing factory in Ōpōtiki to employ hundreds of locals.
The fund formed a syndicate including BayTrust and Eastern Bay Energy Trust to invest $5.5m into the $37m project.
About $19m had already been secured from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.
Whakatōhea Mussels Limited chairman Ian Craig said "to see this project finally coming to life is a dream come true for Whakatōhea iwi and Ōpōtiki town,
"It's no exaggeration to say we've been working to make this happen for decades."
Many of those who were expected to apply for work in the factory would be women and solo mums so childcare issues would be addressed by the company.
Training, support, transportation and childcare subsidies would be available, as well as a commitment to minimise the impact on marine life.
Eastern Bay Energy Trust chairman, Aaron Milne said the investment was an opportunity to catalyse growth in the Eastern Bay as it would turn a place with traditionally high levels of unemployment into one of the largest aquaculture regions in New Zealand.
Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board chief executive Dickie Farrar said this was the realisation of a dream first conceived by iwi elders back in 1996.
"Now we have the opportunity to invest in our people and our community to build a better future for all."
Ōpōtiki's open ocean aquaculture mussel farm represented the future of aquaculture in New Zealand as concern grew over the environmental impacts of inshore aquaculture.
The farm was 8km off the coast of Ōpōtiki and comprises 3800ha. The mussel farm's lines would now be expanded from 176 to 300+, and the processing factory would be built.
Once established, the factory would process standard live and half shell frozen mussels but also in time move into higher-value nutraceutical processing.
Site works to build the processing factory were already under way and it was aiming to be up and running by early 2021.