A project "30 years in the making" officially launched on Monday, with the official opening of Takitimu Seafoods.

The launch drew in a crowd of about 350 people, including the Māori King, His Majesty Kingi Tūheitia, who cut the ribbon.

Earlier this year Ngāti Kahungunu bought Hawke's Bay Seafoods, of which it had been a shareholder for many years, and has subsequently rebranded it.

The takeover was announced a day after Hawke's Bay Seafoods was fined more than $1 million after being found guilty of under-reporting 27 tonnes of bluenose catch.


The Ministry of Primary Industries found discrepancies between the number of fish reported and the number exported.

Nino D'Esposito and brother Giancarlo D'Esposito were charged as directors of the company and son Marcus D'Esposito was charged as a manager.

The company was subject to a multi-agency raid in 2014, which pushed back negotiations with Ngāti Kahungunu around the selling of the business.

Chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu Ngahiwi Tomoana said they had been hoping to buy Hawke's Bay Seafoods for about 30 years.

"It's been a 30-year dream of our people to restore our whakapapa, Te Tangaroa, in all its aspects."

Former director of Hawke's Bay Seafoods (the predecessor to Takitimu), Nino D'Esposito, said at the launch it was a pleasure and honour to hand over the business to Ngāti Kahungunu.

"We've been working with Ngāti Kahungunu for over 20 years.

"I've been all around the world internationally visiting out customers with Ngahiwi, for over 20 years now, so he knows our customers very well.


"He knows our industry."

He said he and his family would continue to support Ngāti Kahungunu as it grew the business.

Local leaders, people from the fishing industry, iwi representatives, and representatives from the Chatham Islands, the Cook Islands and China all gave speeches as well.

Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said collectively Māori own $50 billion worth of assets, and growing.

"I'm proud to stand here to celebrate this day, not just for Hawke's Bay, but for Aotearoa/New Zealand."

Bostock owner John Bostock said Takitimu had the potential to create more, full-time jobs in Hawke's Bay.

"Full-time jobs are really, really important.

"We've got many social issues in our community, and I think a full-time job is probably the greatest opportunity to create real change and benefit."