Ōpōtiki local Johnny Tihore is back working on the land he grew up on.

He's returned home after five years in the mines of Australia, and he says primary businesses like New Zealand Manuka are encouraging others to return to the region.

"I just like the vision of what this company is doing for our people down the coast. They are creating employment. They're giving something to the people, that is the biggest thing."

Johnny wanted his children to enjoy all the benefits of growing up in New Zealand and was concerned they were missing out on learning about their culture.


"I was asking them to sing the national anthem and they'd start singing the Australian anthem. I was shocked. It's definitely been good for my kids and my partner, being back home. We are close to the sea, and we are home. This place, this is our home."

New Zealand Manuka CEO, Karl Gradon is proud to be working on local projects like their Maungaroa Station Plantation - the largest manuka plantation in the country with more than 4,000,000 trees.

"We've actually gone to the local trust, as the custodian of that land, and they have provided us with the vast majority of the labour to assist. The employees we have there are absolutely fantastic, they've been absolutely top notch."

The company is currently working on breaking into the North American market and the demand for staff is expected to grow as business continues to buzz.

Also returning home is sportswoman turned beekeeper, Mere Vaka. She moved away from the coast to study and pursue her passion for sport, but was unsure about what was next.

"I was really searching for something different. Something that was going to excite me. When the opportunity came to move here and work it was like 'yes, I am coming and I will be there tomorrow'."

She never expected to end up working as a beekeeper.

"I love seeing the change from a weak hive to a pumping hive, a strong one. It's just so amazing to think that whatever you have done to the hive, combined with whatever nectar is flowing, pollen coming in - the change is always very exciting for me."


Mere had no idea that beekeeping was even a profession.

"I didn't even know what a beehive looked like. I can remember a couple of school holidays just looking out into the paddock and asking my Papa why there were drawers out in the paddock - I honestly thought they were drawers."

Booming business coupled with skilled locals keen to move home is ensuring a bright future for the region.

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