Kaikohe Berryfruit Ltd, one of the first confirmed occupants of the Ngāwhā Innovation and Enterprise Park that were announced on Tuesday, is a joint venture, led by the Ngāpuhi Asset Holding Company, partnering with award-winning Northland grower Maungatapere Berries and the Far North District Council-owned Far North Holdings, which will develop a sustainability-focused, high-tech hydroponics berryfruit operation on a 28-hectare site.
The partnership will grow soft berries, mostly raspberries and blackberries, starting with 10 hectares of hydroponic tunnel houses. Packing and cool-store facilities will be built on-site, and the enterprise is expected to provide good-quality, well-paid work for between 120 and 160 local people every year. Of those, between 60 and 70 are expected to be full-time positions.
Ngāpuhi Asset Holding Company chief executive Paul Knight said the enterprise was a highly strategic regional partnership, developing one of the largest soft berryfruit growing operations in the country.
"The venture is forecast to increase local business activity by $34 million a year, and will become one of the largest employers in the region, providing attractive and well-paid jobs within easy reach of our community," he said.
The venture, he added, provided a "step-change opportunity" for the Kaikohe community and Ngāpuhi, while enabling this type of development was at the heart of what the Ngāpuhi Asset Holding Company had sought to achieve.
Meanwhile Kerikeri-based Olivado will build an expanded avocado oil production plant to service the huge growth of avocado plantings in Northland, to supply its 34 markets internationally. It will process its waste through a bio-gas unit, to produce bio-methane to run its plant and to supply local industrial and domestic users of LPG.
Recognised as a world-leading innovator in its field, Olivado was the first food-oil company in the world to create a circular economy by using all the waste it creates in its production process. It was bringing to Kaikohe an innovative avocado waste management system it developed in Kenya over the past 10 years, which used avocado waste to make methane for vehicle fuel, and a liquid and solid fertiliser that will be used by Kaikohe Berryfruit Ltd and other horticulturalists.
The park will become the base from which Olivado will bring this circular economy concept to dairy farms in Northland by establishing a dairy waste out-sourcing programme. Its biogas plants will be located on farms, freeing farmers from the cost of effluent treatment and liability, creating many more jobs in the process.
Chief executive Gary Hannam said Olivado was delighted to be putting the 'innovation' into the new innovation and enterprise park.
"It's great to be bringing our innovation back to Northland," he added.
Olivado had 12 years of experience training young Kenyans without a school education to work in its avocado oil factory and biogas plant, Hannam saying the most exciting part of the company's new presence in Kaikohe was being able to contribute practically to the park's philosophy of becoming a base for training and motivating the many young people who had had no real prospects in Kaikohe for generations.
"We will be working with the park and Kaikohe Berryfruit Ltd to give hope to the community in practical training and real jobs, interesting jobs with real prospects for young people," he said.