Clear guidance and incentives are needed to encourage international firms here to help deliver New Zealand's industrial potential, the head of one of the country's largest greenfield industrial and residential developments says.
Stephen Hughes, chief executive of the Drury South Crossing business park south of Auckland, said a "clear re-entry pathway into the country" is needed for multinational organisations wanting to set up or expand their New Zealand operations.
"This is one of the few times in our modern history where our geographic isolation is a clear competitive advantage and we are going to need more than international students and tourists to restart the economy."
With multinationals "queuing at the door" to develop new operations and jobs here, better consideration is needed as to how those visitors are treated as they come through the quarantine process, he said.
"Whilst this process is critical to protect Kiwis, a one-size-fits-all approach is not necessarily conducive to securing investments and jobs at the level the country needs."
The $800 million Drury South Crossing development covers 361 hectares. The mixed-use park lies between the southern motorway and the Drury Quarry, now owned by Fulton Hogan but originally established by the Stevenson Group 81 years ago.
Hughes said about 20 per cent of the 170 ha of commercial land available had now been sold to large-scale operators, including food suppliers wanting to establish high-volume capability, logistics providers and a 10,000 square-metre data centre.
"What we are seeing is a need from local food producers to store large volumes of export-ready product where it can be accessed using automated storage retrieval systems and robotic technology to access products from warehouses that are of a scale we have not generally seen in New Zealand."
Hughes said he had also fielded early enquiries from US film studios looking to develop warehouse facilities into sound stages and production facilities.
"There are relatively few sites left in the Auckland region which can accommodate this scale of operation and it has been encouraging to see that local and international businesses are looking to invest at this level, which will be an essential part of the region's economic recovery."
With construction scheduled to start on new warehousing and commercial facilities late next year, the expectation is that the development could ultimately employ about 6,000 people across its various manufacturing, logistics and food processing businesses, due for completion during 2027.
The residential component includes plans for about 800, primarily affordable homes, on a 45 ha block.